Leigh Griffiths the difference as Celtic leave it late

Kyle Lafferty’s first ever European goal earns Rangers a surprise draw with Villarreal

Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths scores the winning goal at Celtic Park. Photograph: PA

Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths scores the winning goal at Celtic Park. Photograph: PA

 

Celtic 1 Rosenborg 0

Leigh Griffiths climbed off the bench to score a dramatic late winner for Celtic in their Europa League Group B opener against old foes Rosenborg at Parkhead.

The Hoops had knocked the Norwegian outfit out of the Champions League qualifiers earlier in the season, and that familiarity appeared to contribute to an insipid first 45 minutes which ended with visiting keeper André Hansen touching a shot from Odsonne Édouard onto the outside of the post.

The Scottish champions continued their struggle in the second half until the 87th minute when Griffiths, on for Édouard, headed in a Dedryck Boyata knock-down for a 1-0 win and three points that had looked like escaping them.

The visitors looked solid enough in the early stages, their flair coming from Tunisian striker Issam Jebali.

Amid the early skirmishes, though, Jebali was booked by Polish referee Pawel Gil for simulation after he went to ground inside the Celtic penalty area when taking on Mikael Lustig.

Minutes later Celtic centre-back Filip Benkovic, making his European debut for the home side, tested Hansen with a header from a Callum McGregor corner before Édouard fired a Tom Rogic pass over the bar from 16 yards.

However, for all the possession, the zip was missing from Celtic’s play.

Just before the hour mark Rogic and James Forrest were replaced by Scott Sinclair and Mikey Johnston as Brendan Rodgers tried a speedier route to the opener.

Griffiths replaced Édouard in the 76th minute before Johnston turned a Kieran Tierney cut-back over the bar.

However, all was well when Griffiths, from right in front of goal and unmarked, headed Boyata’s set-up from a Scott Brown cross past Hansen to secure the points.

Meanwhile Kyle Lafferty’s first ever European goal handed Rangers a hugely impressive 2-2 draw in their Europa League opener with Villarreal.

Carlos Bacca and Gerard Moreno twice had LaLiga side Villarreal ahead, but Rangers refused to buckle, with Scott Arfield netting ahead of Lafferty’s maiden goal in continental club competition.

Steven Gerrard sprang a selection shock before kick-off as defender Nikola Katic was dropped despite not putting a foot wrong since signing from Slaven Belupo this summer. Joe Worrall got the nod instead as he was handed a surprise debut, but the Nottingham Forest loanee could not have got off to a worse start. The 21-year-old allowed the ball to ricochet off his body into Bacca’s path. The Colombian reacted brilliantly, arcing a stunning hit over Allan McGregor for the opener just 44 seconds in.

Yet little by little Rangers grew in confidence as Villarreal allowed them time to pick some passes.

Villarreal’s ex-Everton anchorman Ramiro Funes Mori should have done better after he was allowed to slip his marker and get on the end of a Santi Cazorla corner.

Gerrard would have been pleased with his side’s overall showing, with only a quality final ball missing. But they got it after 67 minutes as James Tavernier charged into the box. Ruiz got a tackle in but Daniel Candeias was on hand to clip the ball back in for Arfield to sweep home from close range.

Villarreal immediately clicked up a gear as substitute Moreno charged past Borna Barisic before rifling past McGregor to regain the lead within two minutes of the equaliser. But Rangers hit back with quarter of an hour left. Barisic charged down the left before cutting back for Lafferty, who tucked home to the delight of the travelling fans.

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