Celtic 1 AEK Athens 1: Hoops in trouble after costly home draw

AEK Athens grabbed a crucial away goal as it held Celtic to a draw in a Champions League qualifier in Glasgow.

Published : Aug 09, 2018 07:41 IST

Celtic is in danger of missing out on the Champions League group stage after a 1-1 first-leg draw at home to a 10-man AEK Athens left its third qualifying round tie finely poised.

Comfortable winner over Alashkert and Rosenberg, Celtic found it far tougher against the Greek champion and must, now, secure an away result if it is to reach the playoff round.

Brendan Rodgers' men had appeared likely to take a lead to Athens when Callum McGregor broke the deadlock inside 20 minutes, only for his opener to be cancelled out by a rasping Viktor Klonaridis strike in the 44th minute.

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And, it was AEK that finished the far happier of the pair as it absorbed a wealth of second-half pressure following Konstantinos Galanopoulos' dismissal for a second bookable offence with just over half an hour remaining.

McGregor was at the heart of a confident start for Celtic, the midfielder testing Vasilios Barkas with a firmly struck effort from just inside the area.

It was the only warning the Scotland international would offer as, in the 17th minute, he picked out the bottom right corner, firing low across Barkas from the edge of the six-yard box.

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But, a largely encouraging first 45 minutes came undone on the stroke of half-time, Klonaridis rifling in an unstoppable equaliser.

Marinos Ouzounidis' men bravely protected parity for the remainder of the match, Celtic substitute Leigh Griffiths going closest to a winner with a header soon after his 63rd-minute introduction.

But, it was to be one of few real scares for AEK, which defied the numerical disadvantage to hold the upper hand for next week's return leg.

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