Celtic have one foot in the Champions League group stage after they hammered Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their play off tie at Celtic Park.
Two goals from Scott Sinclair, James Forrest and two own goals sealed the victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side, with Celtic keeping another clean sheet in the competition.
The two sides will meet again on Tuesday in Kazakhstan for the second leg, but is all but a formality for the reigning Scottish champions with a reported £40 million in revenue on the table for reaching the group stages of the competition.
— CelticGoals ☘ (@CelticGoals) August 16, 2017
In the opening stages of the game, Astana flooded their defence and midfield to frustrate Celtic, who found it difficult to break down.
Just after the half hour mark, Celtic opened the scoring through Scottish Cup Final hero Tom Rogic, The Aussie midfielder picked the ball up in the Kazakh side’s half and ran past two defenders and into the penalty box before lifting the ball over the keeper, only to see Astana defender Postnikov knock the ball over the line.
Despite a number of scares at the other end Celtic held firm, and just before half time Scott Sinclair scored the second of the game.
A tackle inside the Astana half fell nicely to Scott Sinclair who raced through one on one with only the goalie to beat before firing the ball past keeper Aleksandr Mokin.
In the second half, a sickening blow of heads between Rogic and Logvinenko should have stopped play, but the referee waved play on and Griffiths ran forward playing the ball to Sinclair who drilled home Celtic’s third goal of the game.
Celtic smelled blood and pushed forward for another, Griffiths sliced a shot wide when he was through on goal, but the striker held up the ball long enough to play it into the path of James Forrest who fired home the fourth goal to give Celtic a commanding lead.
With the clock ticking down, Griffiths added a fifth with a low effort thanks to a deflection which took it into the far corner when it looked as if his shot was going wide.
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Armstrong 82), Rogic (McGregor 63) Sinclair; Griffiths
Not Used: De Vries, Benyu, Ajer, Ralston, Miller
FC ASTANA (4-4-1-1) Mokin; Shitov, Postnikov, Logvinenko (Beysebekov 65), Shomko; Twumasi, Maevski, Kleinheisler, Tomasov (Murtazayev 77); Muzhikov (Grahovac 82), Kabanaga
Not Used: Eric, Anicic, Tagybergen, Maliy.