Shakhter Karagandy 2 Celtic 0 match report: Celtic stunned by minnows from Kazakhstan in Champions League play-off

First-leg defeat ensures a difficult task in Glasgow next week

Celtic have left themselves with it all to do to reach the Champions League after a surprise defeat to Kazakhstan champions Shakhter Karagandy in the first leg of their play-off at the Astana Arena.

The Scottish champions started the game well but found themselves behind in the 12th minute when Andrei Finonchenko took advantage of some slack defending to score from close range.

Kris Commons rattled the bar with a thunderous drive in the 19th minute with the ball bouncing down on to the line but Neil Lennon's side struggled at times with the route-one approach taken by a home side who looked limited in other aspects of their game.

The visitors had the best of things again in the second half with James Forrest missing a chance from six yards but in the 77th minute powerful striker Sergei Khizhnichenko headed in a second to leave the shell-shocked Hoops having to make amends in next week's second leg in Glasgow.

Lennon, though, will be puzzled as to how his side have work to do against a basic team who themselves may wonder how they managed to emerge from the tie with a win.

Two of the Hoops' summer signings, Virgil van Dijk and Steven Mouyokolo, made their European debuts and started in central defence together for the first time as regular stopper Efe Ambrose dropped to the bench.

Mikael Lustig replaced Adam Matthews at full-back, the Wales defender recovering from a hamstring injury but only finding a place as substitute as Forrest came in for Beram Kayal.

Shakhter, the first Kazakh side to reach the play-off round of the competition, were playing 114 miles away from home in the 30,000-capacity national stadium, which was close to full with a couple of dozen Hoops fans in one corner behind a goal.

Celtic dominated the early stages on the artificial surface and indeed could have been two ahead before they fell behind.

The home side escaped in the fourth minute after Shakhtar keeper Aleksandr Mokin fumbled a Charlie Mulgrew corner and Van Dijk and Commons tried to get the ball in but it was scrambled away for another corner.

When Commons flighted the ball into the box from the other side, the Dutch defender powered a header in which was parried by Mokin and the Kazakh champions somehow survived again.

The home side were probably as surprised as anyone when they forced their way into the lead with what was a basic goal.

A long throw-in from the left by midfielder Gediminas Vicius was headed on by Nikola Vasiljevic and Finonchenko stole past Hoops midfielder Joe Ledley to knock the ball past Fraser Forster from close range.

The home fans could not believe their luck and they cheered every attack in the moments following but the Parkhead side stabilised and when Commons hit the woodwork it reminded them that Celtic remained a threat.

In the 29th minute, just after Shakhter defender Sergei Maliy had headed a cross from Aleksandar Simcevic over the bar from 14 yards, Georgios Samaras skimmed a header from a whipped-in Mulgrew free-kick just inches past the far post.

The Parkhead side had another opportunity four minutes from the break when Van Dijk got on the end of a Mulgrew corner but his header was directed straight at Mokin.

Celtic came out for the second half with some purpose and set about getting themselves level.

Hoops left-back Emilio Izaguirre should have netted in the 51st minute after taking a Commons pass and burrowing his way into the box but he slashed at his shot which flew over the bar.

Shakhter were defending in number and relying on the occasional break for respite.

One Shakhter break ended with Khizhnichenko getting a shot away which lacked the power to really test Forster but which brought thunderous cheers from the home fans, by now sensing a famous victory.

The Parkhead side continued to press and in the 72nd minute Forrest had a glorious chance when Izaguirre planted a cross on his head six yards from goal but the Scotland midfielder's header was straight at Mokin who gratefully blocked to safety.

The closing stages were frantic but again Celtic were slack when conceding the second.

Mouyokolo did well to block a goal-bound shot from Khizhnichenko but when the ball was crossed back in to the box by Vicius he steered a header past Forster from 10 yards.

The Glasgow giants were stunned and the final minutes passed in something of a blur for the visitors with Mulgrew heading over from six yards in the final minute.

After getting past Cliftonville and Elfsborg in the previous two qualifier, the Parkhead side now need to pull something special out of the bag next week, although in front of their own fans that is far from unlikely.

PA

Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried