Celtic 3-4 CFR Cluj (4-5 agg): Lennon's side out of Champions League after thriller

By Sports Desk August 13, 2019

Celtic were knocked out of Champions League qualifying on Tuesday after a 4-3 defeat to CFR Cluj saw them lose the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

Neil Lennon's side came from behind to force a 1-1 draw in the first leg and were up against it again in Glasgow when Ciprian Deac struck in the first half.

James Forrest, hero of the first leg, levelled the scores before Odsonne Edouard made the most of haphazard defending to make it 2-1 to the Scottish champions.

Abdel Billel Omrani's penalty put Cluj ahead on away goals but Ryan Christie struck just two minutes later to edge Celtic back in front.

There was to be more drama, however, as Omrani turned in a rebound to make it 4-4 on aggregate and give the visitors the edge on away goals.

In the dying seconds, George Tucudean struck a stylish fourth goal to give Cluj the victory and seal a play-off encounter with Slavia Prague.

Deac handed the Romanians the initiative when he headed past Scott Bain 27 minutes in.

Former European Cup winners Celtic hit back six minutes into the second half when Forrest, linked with a move to Russian side Zenit in recent days, fired in an equaliser from inside the box.

Edouard swung the tie Celtic's way 10 minutes later, sweeping the loose ball into the bottom-left corner after Cluj's defence made a mess of trying to clear.

Omrani then snatched a second away goal with a confident penalty, but Christie was on hand to side-foot home almost immediately after the ball broke for Edouard.

However, the twists kept coming, with Omrani sliding in to steer the ball high into the net after Bain had saved from Alexandru Paun.

With Celtic desperately chasing another goal to send them through in the eighth minute of injury time, a hopeful clearance fell kindly to Tucudean, who lofted a composed finish past Bain to send the visiting bench into raptures.

Related items

  • MLS Review: Ibrahimovic and Galaxy earn LAFC date; Union win seven-goal thriller MLS Review: Ibrahimovic and Galaxy earn LAFC date; Union win seven-goal thriller

    LA Galaxy set up a blockbuster El Trafico derby showdown with rivals Los Angeles FC in the MLS Western Conference semi-finals after edging Minnesota United 2-1.

    Second-half goals from Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos saw the Galaxy past hosts Minnesota in the first round of the play-offs on Sunday.

    After a scoreless first half at Allianz Field, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Galaxy broke the deadlock via Lletget – who bounced on a deflected shot by the former Manchester United striker with 19 minutes remaining.

    Dos Santos doubled the lead four minutes later with a curling effort beyond Minnesota goalkeeper and ex-Arsenal shot-stopper Vito Mannone.

    Jan Gregus scored a late goal for Minnesota, but the Galaxy were not to be denied as they look ahead to a mouth-watering clash against Supporters' Shield champions LAFC.

    In Sunday's other play-off match, Philadelphia Union prevailed 4-3 against New York Red Bulls after extra time in an historic victory.

    The Union overcame the Red Bulls in a thriller for their first play-off victory, having lost their four previous post-season matches.

    Philadelphia trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but rallied on both occasions to force extra time as Marco Fabian's 106th-minute goal sent the Union through to the next round.

    Next up for the Union are defending champions Atlanta United in the Eastern Conference semis.

  • Guardiola: Manchester City still not ready to win Champions League Guardiola: Manchester City still not ready to win Champions League

    Manchester City are still not ready to win the Champions League, according to manager Pep Guardiola.

    City responded to their shock Premier League loss to Wolves prior to the international break with a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

    Two-time reigning Premier League champions City are six points adrift of unbeaten leaders Liverpool ahead of Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Atalanta.

    Having conquered English football, City covet European glory but Guardiola believes his team are not close to reigning supreme in the Champions League.

    "The people say about the Champions League, that target. We still are not ready," said Guardiola, whose City have lost in the quarter-finals in each of the past two seasons.

    "We create a lot, don't concede, but can improve. We've scored a lot over the last two seasons and I don't have doubts about that, but we have to keep going, work on that."

    Gabriel Jesus scored in the victory at Selhurst Park, where the Brazil forward netted his 50th City goal since arriving from Palmeiras in 2017.

    "He [Jesus] will have a long career and with his mentality always he will have success. He is hungry, he will become an important striker around the world and we are lucky to have him," Guardiola said.

    "Gabriel was always good from the beginning. Unfortunately he had the two tough injuries. Last season it was tough for him, after the World Cup it was not easy, but he is strong.

    "He is a number nine for Brazil. The club brought an incredible, young player for an incredible price. One of the best signings.

    "To compete with Sergio [Aguero] is maybe the most difficult thing. Sergio is a legend, an outrageous player - amazing, but Gabriel is so calm.

    "He is a competitor, he accepts the decision and every training session he fights like an animal, but he is so young and can improve."

  • Spurs still 'fighting' for Pochettino, insists Alderweireld Spurs still 'fighting' for Pochettino, insists Alderweireld

    Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld insisted Spurs are still "fighting" for manager Mauricio Pochettino amid the club's struggles.

    Spurs were held to a disappointing 1-1 Premier League draw by Watford on Saturday, leaving Tottenham without a win in three matches in all competitions.

    Pochettino's future has come into question as Tottenham languish in seventh position, while they were humiliated 7-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League prior to the international break.

    However, Alderweireld said Spurs are behind Pochettino, who led Tottenham to the Champions League final last season.

    "There is a team on the pitch and you see us fighting," Belgium international Alderweireld said.

    "Everyone is behind the club and the manager otherwise we could not have put the effort we put in."

    Alderweireld added: "I think we didn't make the right decisions. At the end they had one long ball and they scored. It's difficult, not positive, but in the second half we changed the game.

    "We did a lot better. We could have scored a lot more goals. We need to improve and improve and improve. It's the same players [as last season] and we have to get out of this."

    Tottenham host Red Star Belgrade on matchday three in the Champions League on Tuesday.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.