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Celtic FC – Malmö FF 3:2

It is the tie that would define our season, will be get to play in the big boys playground that is the Champions League or will end up with the second prize like last season and join the Europa League?

After negotiating our second qualifier in Azerbaijan we were paired with the Swedish champions Malmö. Like most opponents in European competition we generally don‘t know too much about teams until we play them.

All I really knew about Malmö was that they played in last year’s Champions League group stages alongside Athletico Madrid, Juventus and Olympiakos. From memory they were a good side and unfortunate not to take more points that the 3 they got. This season they knocked out Red Bull Salzburg (I was happy to see the knocked out too) who we know we‘re a good side when we played them last year.

The magnitude of the game meant that Celtic Park was full and everyone was braced for one of those famous European nights. If Lionel Messi thinks is the best atmosphere he’s played in then who am I to argue.

The sound of the Champions League hymn had the whole stadium rocking and possibly shocked the Malmö players as we found ourselves 2 goals to the good inside the first 10 minute. The first coming from a quick pass from Stefan Johansen that played Leigh Griffiths in on goal to break the deadlock and a second from a Nir Bitton header from a corner. Things couldn‘t be any better. But there was still a long time to go! We had further chances to extend our lead which we did not take and slowly The visitors crept into the game.

The Swedish champions looked nervous at the back when we put them under pressure, however they looked sharp and quick when they went forward. However, we managed to see our the first half with 2-0 lead.

The second half didn‘t start as well as it could have with a goal shortly after the break from Jo Inge Berget. The Norwegian had a 6 month spell at Celtic last season and came back to haunt us. Lustig and Van Dijk both went for the same ball and left the Viking lookalike free at the back post and hit the ball sweetly between the defenders and past Craig Gordon.

The game continued at a frantic pace and Celtic restored their 2 goal lead mid way through the second half from Leigh Griffiths again. A deep cross from the right saw the striker out jump the taller defender to loop a header beyond the keeper. The way Griffiths can out jump bigger guys is reminiscent of Henrik Larsson, although Leigh has a long long way to go before he matches up to the king.

We held on to our 2 goal lead until the dying minutes, well the 5th minute of injury time, where we failed to deal with a corner which lead to Berget again scoring meaning a 3-2 victory for Celtic but 2 potentially crucial away goals for Malmö.

Conceding a late goal like this can sometimes feel like a defeat initially but they still have to beat us, and hopefully we can score out there to make the task a bit harder for them. Here’s hoping we do!!

Hail Hail

Nice Guys Sankt Pauli //Scott