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Old Bhoy haunts Celtic as late goal leaves Champions League tie in the balance

The SPL champions looked like taking a two-goal advantage into the second leg but conceded deep into stoppage time.

Jo Inge Berget spent a season on loan at Celtic Park in 2014.
Jo Inge Berget spent a season on loan at Celtic Park in 2014.

CELTIC’S HOPES OF reaching the lucrative group stages of the Champions League were dealt a late blow as Jo Inge Berget scored for Malmo in stoppage time as the Swedish champions lost 3-2 in the first leg of their play-off round match at Parkhead.

The hosts had come out of the blocks flying as Leigh Griffiths slotted past Johan Wiland in the third minute before Nir Bitton headed home a Stefan Johansen corner in the 10th minute.

However, Berget grabbed his first with a sizzling finish in the 52nd minute before Nikola Djurdic forced Craig Gordon into a fine save as the Swedes started the second half with confidence.

Griffiths grabbed his second of the match with a looping header in the 61st minute to restore Celtic’s two-goal advantage but Berget’s goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time handed the Swede’s a lifeline as the Hoops travel to Sweden next Tuesday with a slender advantage.

Ronny Deila made just one change from his side’s weekend win over Inverness as James Forrest came in for Gary Mackay-Steven while Griffiths was handed the task of leading the line up front ahead of Nadir Ciftci, who had started the club’s previous European fixtures this season.

Britain Soccer Champions League Scott Brown dejected at full-time. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Scottish striker wasted little time in repaying his manager’s faith as he fired Celtic into the lead in the third minute.

Johansen sent a brilliant delivery between two defenders and Griffiths peeled away from his marker to roll the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Celtic’s dream start continued when Bitton added a second in the tenth minute.

Johansen was again the architect as his in-swinging corner was met by the Israeli international at the near post who sent his downward header past the poorly positioned Wiland.

It could have been three moments later as Emilio Izaguirre and Griffiths linked to set up Johansen, but his angled shot was blocked by Wiland.

A misplaced pass out of defence allowed Vladamir Rodic to fire a shot at Gordon but the Celtic stopper got down low to turn his effort round the post.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Qualifying - Play-off - Celtic v Malmo FF - Celtic Park Celtic had earlier come storming out of the blocks. Source: Jeff Holmes

Malmo pulled one back in spectacular fashion through former Celtic player Berget.

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Magnus Eikrem’s cross found the unmarked Norwegian, who spent a brief spell on loan at Celtic last season, and he blasted his effort into the top corner from the edge of the box.

The Swedish champions’ resurgence continued and Gordon could only palm away a stinging effort from Djurdjic before the danger was cleared.

Celtic’s wobble was brief, however, and Griffiths soon restored their two goal advantage.

The striker jumped above Anton Tinnerholm to send an angled looping header off the inside of the post and over the line before the Malmo players could clear it.

With the game deep in stoppage time Berget latched on to a headed knock down from a corner to lash the ball home.

Champions League play-off first leg results:

  • Basel 2-2 Maccabi Tel Aviv
  • Celtic 3-2 Malmo
  • Rapid Wien 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Skenderbeu 1-2 Dinamo Zagreb
  • Valencia 3-1 Monaco

© AFP, 2015

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