Celtic Survive Testing Night To Edge Past AZ In Europa League

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Celtic came through a tumultuous night in the Netherlands to beat AZ Alkmaar on aggregate and advance to the Europa League groups for the fourth consecutive season. Celtic took a 3-0 lead thanks to Kyogo Furuhashi’s third-minute goal, but Zakaria Aboukhlal equalized after goalkeeper Joe Hart made an error, and Carl Starfelt’s disastrous own goal gave AZ the lead in the second leg.

As Celtic hung on in the face of adversity, Hart earned partial redemption with two key saves from Aboukhlal, and Ernest Poku squandered a late chance. Despite the end of their six-game winning streak, Ange Postecoglou’s team enters Friday’s draw, while AZ drops into the Conference League. Celtic had kept four clean sheets in their previous five games while scoring 24 goals, but that solidity and free-flowing football were conspicuously absent in the Netherlands.

In a nightmare, error-strewn first half, the Scottish side’s dream start was quickly undone.
As a result of Hart’s blunder, AZ were gifted an equalizer. The ball brushed off the chest of centre-back Stephen Welsh as he failed to deal with a kick-out from AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst. The former England goalkeeper had plenty of time to clear on the edge of his box, but aboukhal took the ball off his toe and slotted it into an empty net.

Source: BBC Sport

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