• Champions League round-up

Celtic claim group spot after last-gasp win

ESPN staff
August 28, 2013
James Forrest scored a 92nd minute winner to send Celtic into the Champions League group stage © Getty Images
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Celtic reached the Champions League group stages for the second successive season after beating Shakhter Karagandy 3-0 in a dramatic play-off with an injury-time James Forrest goal.

The Hoops were trailing 2-0 to the Kazakhstan champions from the trip to Astana, but they treated their fans to a great European night in the east end of Glasgow.

Shakhter keeper Aleksandr Mokin made a series of good saves during the expected early onslaught but in the first of two added minutes at the end of the first half, Kris Commons thundered in a left-footed drive from 25 yards to give the home side the lead.

That deserved breakthrough was the boost needed to go and finish the job in the second half.

Georgios Samaras grabbed the second three minutes after the break to shake Celtic Park to its foundations. As the home side went for the third to prevent extra time, striker Anthony Stokes hit the bar with a volley on the hour mark.

The Scottish champions survived a couple of scares as Shakhter tried to fight their way back into the tie but in the second minute of injury time Forrest slammed the ball high in to the net from a Stokes pass to send Parkhead wild.

The goal sparked wild scenes of celebration after the final whistle as the Celtic fans once again looked forward to mixing it with Europe's elite.

Seven-time champions AC Milan overcame PSV Eindhoven 3-0 to make the group stage for the 11th time in 12 seasons.

Kevin Price-Boateng netted either side of a Mario Balotelli strike to earn the Italian giants a 4-1 success on aggregate.

Zenit St Petersburg eased into the group stage after beating Pacos de Ferreira 4-2 to secure an 8-3 aggregate victory.

Zenit, always strong favourites for the tie, went 3-0 up at the Petrovsky Stadium thanks to goals in either half from the excellent Danny and a 66th-minute header from Alexander Bukharov, but the visitors hit back a minute later when Manuel Jose's shot deflected past Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin.

Andrei Arshavin then won and converted a penalty before Carlao restored some pride for the Portuguese side in the 83rd minute.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad safely made it through to the group stage for the first time since 2003-04, their only previous appearance, as they won 2-0 at home to Lyon.

The Spanish side secured an impressive 2-0 win at Lyon in the first leg and Carlos Vela's brace secured the same result in San Sebastian.

Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen also reached the group stage. Having beaten Maribor 3-1 in the first leg, Stanislav Tecl's third-minute goal at the Stadion Ljudski vrt was enough to claim a 1-0 win and ease through 4-1 on aggregate.

Georgios Samaras scored Celtic's second to set up a dramatic finale © Getty Images
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