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Sunday 20 August 2017

Celtic in Europa driving seat after seeing off Astra

A late goal burst saw Celtic edge 2-1 past Astra to move into the driving seat for a place in the knock-out phase of the Europa League.

The Hoops looked on course for a comfortable win when Stefan Scepovic and Stefan Johansen scored in the 73rd and 79th minutes but a goal from Gabriel Enache in the 81st minute ensured that the Bhoys had to fight to the final whistle to claim full points.

With Red Bull Salzburg comfortably beating Dinamo Zagreb, Celtic sit in joint top place in Group D with the Austrians on seven points.

Despite scoring twice at Ross County on Saturday Anthony Stokes was retained in his role on the left of an attacking midfield trio with Stefan Scepovic replacing the ineligible John Guidetti.

Just before the half hour mark Celtic opened up the Romanian defence for the first time when Stefan Johansen fed the ball to Mikael Lustig racing down the right with the Swede's cross forcing Vasileios Pliatsikas into a rushed clearance that almost sent the ball into his own net.

Much to the relief of the home fans Scepovic rose to meet a Stokes free-kick from the left in the 73rd minute to power a header into the Astra net.

Four minutes later Celtic doubled their lead when Johansen rammed the ball home from ten yards out after goalkeeper Lung had failed to hold a low Tonev cross from the right.

With nine minutes left to play Enache pulled a goal back for Astra ensuring a tense end to the match as the Hoops held on for three points.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed a 5-1 win over Greek side Asteras Tripolis at White Hart Lane, thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Harry Kane and a wonder-goal from Erik Lamela.

Kane opened the scoring for Spurs after 13 minutes, hammering his shot into the bottom corner. And Lamela doubled the home side's lead after 30 minutes with a stunning 'rabona' effort, wrapping his left foot around his standing leg to fire the ball into the Asteras net from 18 yards out.

Lamela grabbed his second of the night on 64 minutes with a beautiful volleyed left-foot shot.

Kane then notched his second goal in the 75th minute with a right-footed shot and followed that up six minutes later with a headed goal.

Kane played the last few minutes in goal after Hugo Lloris was sent-off and the visitors claimed a consolation goal through Jerronimo Barrales.

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