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CL play-off: Malmo comeback stuns Celtic in Champions League

London: Celtic crashed out of the Champions League as Malmo claimed a 2-0 victory in the second leg of their play-off round clash in Sweden to progress 4-3 on aggregate. After a frantic start, Malmo opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Markus Rosenberg, suspended for the first leg, headed a corner past Craig Gordon.

Malmo's players celebrate after the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg football match between Malmo FF and Celtic FC at Malmo New Stadium, in Malmo. Pic/AFP
Malmo's players celebrate after the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg football match between Malmo FF and Celtic FC at Malmo New Stadium, in Malmo. Pic/AFP 

Celtic had a Nir Bitton goal controversially chopped off just before the break before Dedryck Boyata's own goal in the 54th minute put Malmo through to the lucrative group stages of the Champions League for the second year running.

For the Hoops it is the second successive year they have fallen at this hurdle and the Scottish champions must now be content with a place in the draw for the group stages of the Europa League. Celtic manager Ronny Deila was less than enchanted at the display. "I think we had a very poor performance," said the Norwegian.

"The whole team looked frightened and scared when they played. "No one wanted the ball and we lost the ball in dangerous situations all the time." Celtic had made two changes from the first leg as Saidy Janko came in for the injured Mikael Lustig while Charlie Mulgrew replaced Emilio Izaguirre.

The match started at a blistering pace with Leigh Griffiths just failing to get on the end of a Janko cross before Jo Inge Berget, who grabbed a double in the first leg, blasted a shot wide at the other end. Griffiths, who also claimed a brace at Celtic Park, then latched on to a high ball over the Malmo defence but the striker sent a sizzling strike into the side netting.

However, it was the home side, buoyed by a boisterous support, who opened the scoring through Rosenberg. The Malmo captain made a short dash into the six-yard box for a corner and leapt above Virgil van Dijk to glance a header over the head of Janko, who was guarding the far post. Celtic centre-half Boyata then stuck out a leg to stop a fierce Rosenberg drive from 20 yards as Malmo exerted more pressure.

Griffiths was lucky to escape with just a booking when he kneed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm in the groin in an off-the-ball incident before the Hoops had a goal ruled out in controversial circumstances in the 42nd minute. A corner appeared to hit the arm of Malmo defender Kari Arnason before Bitton put the rebound into the net but Serbian referee Milorad Mazic was quick to disallow it.

The frantic pace of the opening 45 minutes showed no signs of abating in the second half as Rosenberg immediately sent a shot just wide. A superb double save from Gordon kept Celtic momentarily in the tie as he kept out a Vladimir Rodic angled shot before keeping out a close-range effort from Rosenberg on the rebound.

However, there was nothing the 'keeper could do to stop Malmo doubling their advantage from the resultant corner when Felipe Carvalho's headed flick-on ricocheted off Boyata and crossed the line before Gordon could scramble it clear. Substitute Kris Commons blasted a late effort well over the bar to sum up Celtic's disappointing night.

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