Oct 23, 2014 at 8.05pm UK at ​Celtic Park
AstraAstra Giurgiu
Scepovic (73'), Johansen (79')
Tonev (70')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Enache (81')
Yahaya (8'), Oros (72')

Live Commentary: Celtic 2-1 Astra Giurgiu - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Celtic's slender 2-1 victory over Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League this evening.

Celtic survived a real scare to see off Astra Giurgiu 2-1 in their Europa League Group D clash this evening.

The Bhoys looked devoid of ideas for large parts, although they eventually made the breakthrough on 73 minutes when Stefan Scepovic headed home a cross at the back post.

Stefan Johansen capitalised on a goalkeeping error shortly after to double his side's advantage, only for Gabriel Enache to pull one back for the Romanian minnows to leave Celtic sweating a little.

It was not to be for Astra, however, with the home side holding out for all three points which sees them remain top of the group.

See how the game unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

7.32pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text commentary of Celtic's Europa League Group D clash against Astra Giurgiu. Tonight's visitors will be looking to avenge the 5-1 thrashing suffered at the hands of Dynamo Zagreb in their last away outing in this competition, while the Hoops are still looking to acclimatise to life under Ronny Deila.

7.34pmCeltic have struggled both domestically and in Europe so far this campaign, having twice been eliminated from the Champions League at the qualification stage, while they are six points off the pace in the Scottish Premier League.

7.35pmTonight offers Deila an opportunity to build up some steam in the Europa League against one of the competition's minnows. Kickoff is now around 30 minutes away, so let's take a look at how both sides line up this evening...

7.37pmTEAM NEWS!

CELTIC STARTING XI: Gordon, Lustig, van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre, Brown, Mulgrew, McGregor, Johansen, Stokes, Scepovic

ASTRA GIURGIU STARTING XI: Lung, Youseff, Morais, Oros, Pliatsikas, Yahaya, Seto, Enache, Laban, William Amorim, Budescu

7.39pmJust the one change made by Deila for tonight's game then, with Stefan Scepovic coming into the team in place of John Guidetti who is not eligible to play. It means that Kris Commons misses out once more, having also missed Saturday's 5-0 win at Ross County, while Emilio Izaguirre has shaken off a knock.

7.41pmLukasz Zaluska is among the substitutes for the hosts, meanwhile, despite having been injured in a street attack earlier this week. Adam Matthews is also among the backups, although James Forrest is still not fit enough to make it into the matchday squad.


CELTIC SUBSTITUTES: Zaluska, Ambrose, Matthews, Tonev, Griffiths, Kayal, Wakaso

ASTRA GIURGIU SUBSTITUTES: Coman, Gaman, Florescu, Chitu, Rus, Bukari, Fatai

7.46pmIn terms of the visitors, who come into this game in slight disaray following various money and visa issues which saw two key men left at the airport earlier this week, they have named Vincent Laban in their starting line up for this one. The Cyprus international is someone who is well known to Wales supporters, having scored in his side's slender 2-1 defeat at the Cardiff City Stadium a little over a week ago.


7.50pmA big night for Celtic then, and a real chance to take hold of top spot in Group D. The Hoops currently lead the standings, although they are level on points with Red Bull Salzburg, and find themselves a single points ahead of Zagreb. It's by no means comfortable, but by the end of tonight things may be a little clearer.

7.53pmThe Hoops made a terrible start to the season, and as we reach the last week of November they are still trying to fully recover. The knock-on effect means that they will not compete in Europe's showpiece competition this season, of course, rather comically dumped out of qualifying on two occasions. The Europa League is a more realistic target for Celtic, though - in terms of reaching the latter stages, at least - but they must first escape their group.

7.56pmTonight's opponents Astra have lost their last three games in European competition, although they do boast a decent record in their seven away fixtures, with five wins and two losses. That 5-1 loss against Zagreb last time out - their record defeat away from home - was a real blow, however. Can they recover this evening with a big scalp?

7.58pmDID YOU KNOW? A good omen for Astra heading into this game, as Romanian sides are unbeaten in their last four games in Scotland (W3 D1).

8.01pmPREDICTION! I don't think this will be all that one-sided, but it must be remembered that Astra have won just one of their last five games. They are currently fourth in the Romanian Ligue 1 table, although maybe the new manager effect - Oleg Protasov having taken over the club last week - may have an effect this evening? That said Celtic really should be winning games like this, and I believe that will be the case in a 2-0 victory.

8.04pmThe teams are now out onto the pitch with kickoff just a couple of minutes away. Ronny Deila has just been speaking to BT Sport, incidentally, demanding that his players get off to a strong start this evening at Celtic Park. They will certainly have their supporters behind as ever.

0 minKICKOFF! Celtic get us underway at a wet Celtic Park. Incidentally, two of the players listed as substitutes by Astra this evening did not even travel - an example of those logistical issues I mentioned a little earlier.

2 minMulgrew gives away a free kick in a dangerous area, which is easily collected in the end by Craig Gordon. He's been terrific in this competition so far, although he may have a quieter evening this time around.

4 minCHANCE! Celtic manage to push into an advanced position for the first time, winning a corner which Anthony Stokes delivers. Mulgrew was left free towards the back post area, but he fails to keep his header down. He had a sea of bodies to get his effort through, but he should have done far better from there.

6 minMulgrew is dropping deep at the moment between Celtic's two centre backs to collect the ball. Not been a great deal of possession in advanced areas at the moment, but the hosts are doing well to just keep the ball ticking over.

7 minYELLOW CARD! Seidu Yahaya is shown the game's first yellow card.

9 minAstra sitting back in their own half at the moment with one player - Budescu - up top on his own. The Hoops just continuing to work the ball forward and they have won a few corners already, but have failed to make the most of any of the set piece opportunities.

11 minIncidentally, one of those two absent Astra players I mentioned a little while ago is their back-up goalkeeper Danut Coman. Football works in strange ways, and it seems almost inevitable that No.1 Siviu Lung will pick up an injury at some stage!

13 minThe visitors looked to have a good break on the cards, but the move broke down. That's the first time they've broke forward as a team so far. A little thinking for Celtic to do, perhaps.

14 minSHOT! Budescu manages to get between Celtic's centre-back pairing before firing a shot over the target from a tight angle. Only a half-chance, but once more Astra showing that they do have the ability to spring a counter-attack.

16 minIzaguirre swings in a couple of tasty looking crosses which are not latched onto by a player in a hooped shirt. A chance for Celtic to swing in a fourth corner, though, with the ball having been headed behind...

17 minA simple catch for Lung to take the spell off pressure off his side. Astra pushed up the other end and won a corner of their own, meanwhile, but it was well headed away.

20 minThe game has swung the Black Devils' way once more. They haven't looked too thretening in fairness, but certainly asking questions of Celtic.

21 minSAVE! Well Gordon is saved into the first save of the game. Yahaya struck the effort from range and Gordon simply stood his ground, chesting the ball away. It was unorthodox to say the least, but with a man stood a yard in front of him that was pretty much all he could do.

22 minSAVE! It's another great stop from Gordon. I mentioned that he has been Celtic's start man in the Europa League so far, but tonight was expected to be a simple 90 minutes for him! Budescu found space inside the area, and his outside-of-the-foot effort was heading into the bottom corner if not for the intervention of Gordon.

24 minSHOT! Celtic have just relieved the pressure momentarily. Stokes is picked out inside the box, but his drive is deflected well over the bar. The resulting corner, which is the Hoops' fifth this evening already, is headed away.

26 minAstra's defenders have had to head away a fair few set piece's so far this evening, but the Celtic backline are the ones most under pressure. If not for Gordon, the Romanian outfit would be ahead.

28 minLustig swings in a great ball from the right-hand side, which is turned behind for another corner. Stokes finds Lustig at the back post, but the defender headed over.

29 minCLOSE! Almost a spectacular own goal, and Lustig is involved once more. Pliatsikas made a complete mess of clearing the ball, with the ball deflecting off his own body and narrowly over the target.

31 minCHANCE! A great chance for Enache to give Astra the lead - they are having all the game's best opportunities. The midfielder could not pick out the bottom corner, though, missing the target by a matter of inches.

33 minSHOT! Another shot from the visitors, this time from Amorim, which flies narrowly wide of goal. They are oozing with confidence, and the Celtic Park crowd are beginning to get a little restless.

35 min

36 minIzaguirre bombs forward down the left, delivering another decent-looking cross, yet once more it is easily dealt with. Celtic have another chance to swing in a cross now having won a free kick about 30 yards from goal out wide...

37 minFollowing the theme of Celtic's game so far, the set piece opportunity is not capitalised on. All a little easy for Protasov's charges at the moment.

39 minCHANCE! Great cross from Lustig - again! - but Scepovic just heads over from a few yards out. He was under a little pressure due to the players around him, although you would have expected him to have at least tested Lung from there.

41 minCeltic very pedestrian in terms of their build-up play, just allowing the opposition side to get back and form a solid shape. It has worked perfectly for Giurgiu so far as we approach the final few minutes of the first half.

43 minCHANCE! Brown managed to get a cross into the box from the right-hand side which is well worked to Stokes inside the box, but his goal-bound effort is brilliantly blocked. Celtic's best chance of the first half!

44 minScepovic could have taken that chance on himself, but laying off Stokes was the right choice. More of that is needed from the Bhoys in the second half.


8.54pmThe referee signals the end of the first half, in what has been a fairly balanced 45 minutes. Celtic have dominated in terms of possession, but two of the game's best three chances fell the way of the visitors, with Gordon needing to produce solid saves to keep the scoreline level.

8.56pmThe other big chance fell the way of Stoke just a few minutes before the interval, but his shot from inside the box was brilliantly blocked. It has been frustrating from Celtic so far, and they certainly would have expected to be ahead by now, yet they need to have a little rethink at the break.

8.59pmUPDATE! Elsewhere in Group D, Red Bull Salzburg lead Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at the interval, so it looks like they will be in strong command of the group come 10pm.

9.02pmIt will be interesting to see what Deila does during the 15-minute break, because quite frankly Celtic were poor in that first half. It was all too predictable, with crosses galore but no end product. Anything less than three points this evening will be a disaster.

9.04pmThe Bhoys have Gordon to thank for being level at the interval, although it should not be that way. I'm expecting the home side to come out for this second half all guns blazing in an attempt to turn around their faltering campaign.

45 minSECOND HALF UNDERWAY! As expected Celtic looking to up the tempo following a largely flat first-half showing.

47 minJohansen looked to get an early shot away, which quite well have been curling towards the bottom corner, but the ball is well cut out before it can find its way through.

49 minSHOT! Continuing from where we left off in the first half, Izaguirre creates an opening down the flank, picking out a teammate who fires over. Callum McGregor is the guilty party this time, failing to control his shot from 10 yards out.

51 minSo, so scrappy from Celtic! Seto is picked out inside the box, and having failed to properly connect with his initial shot, he is given another attempt after the hosts failed to cut it out. The hosts just making too many unforced errors across the pitch.

53 minCHANCE! Celtic have missed a glorious opportunity to edge ahead. Izaguirre swings in another peach of a cross, which Johansen fails to connect with at the near post, but Scepovic is standing by to head into an empty net. At least that is what should have happened, yet he could not adjust his body and failed to find the target from a few yards out.

55 minCHANCES! This game has come alive now. Scepovic is again guilty of missing a brilliant opportunity, powering his header wide from close range. Meanwhile, up the other end Amorim latched onto a defensive slip, but his effort was too weak to beat Gordon.

57 minCELTIC SUB: Deila is forced to change things up, bringing on Tonev in place of McGregor. The departing player has not been a threat at all; can his replacement fair any better?

59 minMulgrew snatches at his effort, failing to find the target, as Astra just look to slow the tempo of the game down a little. It has been all one-way traffic pretty much so far following the restart, but still extremely frustrating for the Bhoys.

61 minSHOT! Tonev opts to have a crack at goal from range, although his effort was always heading wide. Less than 30 minutes remaining at Celtic Park with the score still goalless.

63 minSHOT! Celtic still looking flat and devoid of ideas. Yahaya looks to capitalise on that by getting in a shot from long range, but it is not as well struck as his first-half attempt, sailing comfortably over the bar.

65 minThe Scottish Premier League champions are missing Commons big time tonight, because it's been just far too pedestrian and predictable so far. Astra have won themselves another corner, meanwhile...

66 minCHANCE! Laban whips in a great cross which Oros latched onto in the air, but he could not keep his header down. The centre-back should have done better with that chance! A let off for Celtic.

67 minCELTIC SUB: Wakosa is introduced as Deila turns to pace. The ineffective Mulgrew is the man who leaves the field.

68 minSHOT! Wakosa's first task is to chase Pliatsikas 40 yards or so down the field, with the full-back going on an adventurous run. He managed to get a shot away at the end of it, too, which rustled the side netting.

70 minSAVE! Once more Gordon is forced into making a big save. Budescu whips in a brilliant, low cross into the box, which goes all the way through. Gordon read it well to push the ball away from danger, keeping the scores level as a result.

71 minYELLOW CARD! Tonev becomes the first Celtic player to enter the referee's book.

72 minYELLOW CARD! Wakosa wins his team a challenge following an obstruction from Oros which leads to the Astra man receiving a booking.


74 minA cruel blow for the visiting side, as Celtic finally make the most of one of those inch-perfect crosses into the box. The free kick following Oros's challenge was lofted into the back post area by Stokes, where Scepovic was waiting to nod home via the crossbar.

76 minCeltic have got a spring in their step now, pushing forward in search of a second. Astra will be forced to push forward themselves, which could leave more gaps at the back.

77 minDOUBLE SUBSTITUTION: Beram Kayal enters the fray in place of Stokes with 13 minutes left to play for the hosts, while Kehinde Fatai is introduced for Giurgui.


79 minThe visitors have fallen apart now, with Celtic surely putting the game beyond doubt. Lung was at fault having failed to handle Tonev's cross into the box, allowing Johansen to smash home his first European goal.


81 minI wonder?... Celtic's comfortable lead lasted for less than two minutes, with Eneche converting at the front post. He got a little lucky, with the ball deflecting off Izaguirre first and then back off his own body, eventually catching out Gordon.

83 minCHANCE! This game is so open now, and Kayal is gifted a brilliant chance to retain that two-goal lead almost instantly. He curled his effort from inside the box well wide of goal, however, when a much calmer finish was needed.

85 minIt's been a fantastic 15 minutes or so, which has set up what should be a tense finale at Celtic Park. The Bhoys have to defend a set piece which is about to be swung into the box...

86 minBudescu instead opted to shoot from more than 30 yards out, striking the ball into Row Z. Danger over for Celtic, now do they push forward or sit back? Big four minutes or so ahead.

88 minDOUBLE SUBSTITUTION: Rus and Florescu enter the fray for the visitors late on in place of William Amorim and Laban, as they go in search of an equaliser.

89 minCredit to Celtic because they are not sitting back, instead pushing forward. Brave or stupid?

90+1 minCHANCE! That really should have been lights for Astra. Wakaso's cross ery nearly catches Lung out, who parries the ball right into the path of Scepovic. The striker could not adjust his body, however, striking wide from close range.

90+2 minThe ball now firmly in Celtic's half with one minute left to play. Can Astra create one more chance?

90-+3 minGordon watches a long punt up the field roll out of play, and with this goal kick the referee's whistle will surely go for full time.


9.56pmThere we have it then; Celtic remain unbeaten in the Europa League, but they had to survive a real scare to retain top spot in Group D. Even after going two goals ahead Astra did not give their opponents a moments piece, pulling one back and pushing forward for an equaliser. The Bhoys dug deep in the end, though, and managed to see out the contest to claim all three points.

9.58pmWell that's all from me this evening, but stick around on Sports Mole as we bring you a full match report and all the reaction from Celtic Park. Thanks for following.

Celtic manager Ronny Delia looks on during the Scottish Premiership League Match between Celtic and Dundee United, at Celtic Park on August 16, 2014
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