Postnikov (OG) 32', Sinclair 42', 60', Forrest 79' Shitov (OG) 88'.
Celtic 5-0 Astana: Rodgers' men run riot at Celtic Park to all but secure group stage spot

Celtic 5-0 Astana: Rodgers' men run riot at Celtic Park to all but secure group stage spot

Two Scott Sinclair goals and two own goals combined with a goal from James Forrest gave Celtic a 5-0 drubbing of Astana in the Champions League.

harry-wright
Harry Wright

A Scott Sinclair double all but sent Celtic into the Champions League group stages after thrashing FC Astana 5-0 at Celtic Park.

Brendan Rodgers' men made hard work of the same opponents in the Third Round of qualifying just 12 months ago, but Sinclair's brace either side of half time combined with two own goals by Yevgeny Postnikov and Igor Shitov and a  James Forrest strike meant there should be no repeat of last season's nail-biting conclusion to the tie in Kazakhstan next week.

Rodgers opts for strong starting XI

Rodgers opted for a strong lineup in order to avoid a repeat of last year's close shave against the Kazakhstan outfit.

Sinclair, Tomas Rogic and Forrest played in the advanced positions behind Leigh Griffiths in the absence of Moussa Dembele, who scored in Celtic's 2-1 victory against Astana last season.

Scott Brown and Oliver Ntcham occupied the holding midfield roles whilst Stuart Armstrong was left on the bench amidst rumours his Celtic future has been tied up with a new contract.

Astana fielded an experienced lineup with an average age of almost 28-and-a-half years old and just two players under the age of 27.

However, their lineup did include former Bate Borisov and Dynamo Moscow full-back Shitov, who was sent off at Celtic Park last season, and prolific Congo international Junior Kabananga up front.

Celtic frustrated early on

Celtic were forced to take the direct route early on as Astana sat back and let them have the ball, but Sinclair could put Celtic ahead with his snapshot when he found himself unmarked six yards from goal before Griffiths should have put the Glasgow side in front with a free header.

The Khazakstan side were causing Celtic problems on the counter attack before they got to grips with the game with László Kleinheisler pulling the strings in midfield.

Rogic magic breaks deadlock

It was going to take some magic to undo a stubborn Astana defence and that's what Rogic provided.

The Australian international picked the ball up on the half turn and drove towards goal then danced between two defenders.

He chipped a shot towards the back post which was heading out for a goal kick, unbeknown to Postnikov who's flying attempted clearance resulted in the defender poking the ball into his own net.

The centre back could have rectified his mistake two minutes later when Celtic went to sleep from a corner but the 31-year-old headed wide with Craig Gordon stranded in no man's land.

Sinclair sends Celtic on their way

However in Sinclair, Celtic have someone in the form of his life.

The former Manchester City winger's first was delivered on a plate by Astana as he was left with a free run at goal after a careless back pass landed right at the 28-year-old's feet.

His finish was unconvincing as Astana 'keeper Aleksandr Mokin got more than a hand to the ball but could only palm the ball into the corner.

Celtic run riot after half time

It was Celtic's third that caused the most controversy of the night as a one-two with Griffiths left Sinclair to bare down on goal and make no mistake to finish calmly slot home his second on the hour mark.

Simultaneously, Rogic and goalscorer at Celtic Park last season Yuriy Logvinenko were lying prone on the floor and needed five minutes of treatment before both were eventually substituted as a result of a nasty clash of heads.

Griffiths went on to grab his second assist of the game and Forrest his second Champions League goal of the season as the former's reverse through ball allowed the winger to slot in from a tight angle to virtually put the tie to bed for Celtic.

But they weren't done yet and put the icing on the cake just a minute from time when the retreating Astana defence allowed Griffiths to rifle a shot goal-bound that cannoned in off Shitov's knee.

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