Celtic boost third place chances with big win over Anderlecht
Champions League group B, Stade Constant Vanden Stock - Anderlecht 0 Celtic 3 (Griffiths 38', Roberts 50', Sinclair 90')
Celtic took a giant step towards securing third place in their Champions League group, with goals from Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair giving them a 3-0 win over Anderlecht.
Brendan Rodgers’ rode their luck at times, taking the lead against the general run of play, but the Belgians failed to make the most of their possession, struggling to create goalscoring chances in the final third. In the end, they paid for that.
Celtic, on the other hand, made the most of their opportunities, with Griffiths tucking away a Kieran Tierney cross at the back post after 38 minutes against the run of play. Roberts doubled the visitors’ advantage after the break, forcing home a finish via a deflection to give his side a two-goal cushion.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of Anderlecht, with Sinclair adding his name to the score sheet in stoppage time. However, a hamstring injury sustained by Celtic captain Scott Brown put a dampener on the evening for the away team, with the midfielder now a doubt for Scotland’s crucial World Cup qualifiers next week.
Alexandru Chipciu (Anderlecht) and Kieran Tierney (Celtic)Getty Images
Is that the Europa League sewn up for Celtic?
This match, along with the home match against Anderlecht in November, was identified as crucial for Celtic as soon as the draw for the Champions League group stage was made. Drawn in the same group as Bayern Munich and PSG, third place is the aim for Rodgers’ men and this win boosts their chances of delivering on that target, dropping into the Europa League after Christmas.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) - The French midfielder suffered a dismal opening 30 minutes of the match, giving the ball away almost every it came near him. But Olivier Ntcham’s evening pivoted on the through ball that resulted in Celtic’s opener, with the former Manchester City man giving the Hoops the midfield platform they needed to look after their lead in the second half, also setting up Sinclair for the goal that completed the scoring in stoppage time.
Anderlecht - Boeckx 5, Appiah 5, Deschant 5, Spajic 6, Gerkens 6, Dendoncker 6, Trebel 8, Onyekuru 7, Hanni 7, Chipciu 5, Teodorcyzk 4. Subs - Bruno 5, Mbodji 5, Stanciu 5.
Celtic’s Scott Brown gestures during the Champions League clash against AnderlechtReuters
38’ GOAL! Anderlecht 0-1 Celtic: How on earth have they taken the lead? Anderlecht been the better side all night, but Tierney finds Griffiths at the back post with a superb ball and the striker tucks it away. Celtic have the lead!
51’ GOAL! Anderlecht 0-2 Celtic: There's the second goal for Celtic and that could be gigantic for the Scottish champions! Roberts cuts inside and takes aim from just inside the box, with his shot finding the net via a big deflection.
58’ JUST WIDE! That should have been the third goal for Celtic. Tierney's cross finds Roberts, who turns inside the area, but he puts his stabbed effort inches past the near post.
70’ BROWN INJURY! That's a blow to Celtic and maybe even more importantly, to Scotland. They have crucial qualifiers next week and Brown has just been taken off with a hamstring injury.
92’ GOAL! Anderlecht 0-3 Celtic: There's the goal that puts the icing on a very tasty cake for Celtic. Ntcham wins the ball in the centre of the pitch, sets up Sinclair for a simple finish high into the Anderlecht net.
Celtic have won only one of their last 15 Champions League games.
Before tonight, Celtic hadn’t won a Champions League away game since October 2012 (against Spartak Moscow).