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Champions League: Markus Rosenberg Headed Malmo Against Celtic

in Latest/Sports

CELTIC exited the Champions League at the play-off stage as Swedish side Malmo claimed a 4-3 aggregate win.

Trailing 3-2 from the first leg, Malmo turned the tie in their favour on away goals when Markus Rosenberg scored.

The visitors needed a goal to stay in the tournament but saw a Nir Bitton effort disallowed for a foul.

Dedryck Boyata’s own goal then made Celtic’s task that much harder and Europa League group stage football beckons for Ronny Deila’s side.

It will be a second successive appearance in that competition for the Scottish champions, having lost at the Champions League play-off stage in the Norwegian’s debut season.

Malmo are likely to benefit by over £20m from participation in the Champions League group stage, while Celtic stand to make around £8m.

And, with Dutchman Virgil van Dijk expected to join Southampton, Deila also faces the task of replacing one of his first-choice defenders.

With the tie so tight at the midway stage, both sides knew how important an early breakthrough in Sweden could be and Celtic threatened first.

Saidy Janko sped away on the right and Malmo looked stretched as both Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong were prevented from converting.

Former Celtic forward Jo Inge Berget had scored both of Malmo’s goals in the first leg and the Norwegian forward was very much in the mood in the first half.

Berget twice flashed shots wide and almost found his captain Rosenberg with a teasing low cross.

Griffiths lifted a volley wide after some suspect Malmo defending and, but for goalkeeper Johan Wiland’s unconvincing intervention, Van Dijk would surely have headed Celtic ahead from Stefan Johansen’s ball rather than sending his effort wide.

Deila could have been satisfied with the visitors’ opening to the match but the complexion of the tie was about to change.

Yoshimar Yotun’s left foot whipped a fierce corner delivery in from the right and Rosenberg rose above Van Dijk to make the crucial connection, albeit with his shoulder rather than his head.

Malmo looked equally fragile when trying to defend a Celtic corner as Bitton leapt to meet the cross and then knocked in the resulting loose ball.

Serbian referee Milorad Mazic, who had just booked Griffiths for clattering into Anton Tinnerholm, blew for a foul against the away team but replays showed that Bitton’s marker, Kari Arnason, had handled in the challenge.

Buoyed by that let-off, Malmo pressed for a second on the night and Rosenberg cut back for Nikola Djurdjic, who was only denied by a terrific Craig Gordon save.

Celtic failed to heed the warning and the same two players combined again early in the second half with Rosenberg firing wide.

And Gordon came to the Scottish champions’ rescue again with a brilliant double-save, blocking Vladimir Rodic’s drive and Rosenberg’s rebound.

But the keeper was then left exposed at Rodic’s corner as substitute Felipe Carvalho nodded towards goal and Boyata’s boot touched the ball over the line, despite the best efforts of Gordon.

Deila, who had sent Kris Commons on for Stuart Armstrong at half-time, introduced Nadir Ciftci and then Gary Mackay-Steven as Bitton and James Forrest were withdrawn.

But the substitute trio could not instigate the two-goal comeback Celtic needed with Commons’ long-range effort over the closest they came. – BBC Sport

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