Celtic’s 3-2 success against Ferencvaros ensures a place in the knockout stages of either the European Conference League or the Europa League; Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, and Liel Abada give the visitors three crucial points.
With a dramatic 3-2 Europa League win over Ferencvaros in Hungary, Celtic confirmed their place in European competition after the holidays.
Ange Postecoglou’s side are already guaranteed a place in the Europa Conference League’s next round at the absolute least if they finish third in Group G, but they are only a point behind Real Betis after their second win in as many games.
In Hungary, they got an early lead when Kyogo Furuhashi made and scored a 12-yard goal inside three minutes, but were quickly pegged back by a brutal deflection on Oleksandr Zubkov’s pass from Josip Juranovic.
Jota, on loan from Benfica, restored Celtic’s lead midway through the first half, starting on the touchline before surging inside and past Adam Bogdan from 25 yards.
On the hour, Liel Abada appeared to have put the game out of reach, but Celtic, determined to do things the hard way, allowed Myrto Uzuni too much room, allowing Ferencvaros hope with a long-range curler four minutes from time.
It was merely a comfort as the visitors clung on for victory, knowing that two wins in their next two Europa League games would extend their season into the new year.
Celtic have come back from the verge of relegation thanks to back-to-back victories.
Celtic, whose fans were barred from the stadium due to Covid laws, were booed for kneeling before the game, but they hushed the home crowd within three minutes.
When pressing high up the field, Abada won the ball and squared it to Furuhashi, who tricked a sliding opponent by pretending to shoot with his right foot before tapping home with his left.
Abada was also involved in the equalizer in the 11th minute, giving the ball away in front of the 18-yard line. The ball was moved across to Zubkov by the home side, who attempted a cross that was blocked by Juranovic, only for the ball to bounce over Joe Hart and into the far corner.
Celtic took the lead again in the 23rd minute, just seconds after Hart stopped an angled drive from Eldar Civic. Callum McGregor carried the ball forward, and David Turnbull assisted Jota before the Portuguese winger cut inside and blasted in from 22 yards, deflecting off a defender and the post.
After Uzuni slipped in behind Cameron Carter-Vickers, Hart made a save, but Celtic appeared to be the more likely team to add to the first-half tally, with Turnbull coming nearest with a long-range effort that was saved by former Hibernian goalkeeper Bogdan.
In the early parts of the second half, both teams struck the crossbar, Tokmac Nguen with a twisting long-range effort for the hosts and Anthony Ralston with a header from Turnbull’s free-kick for the visitors.
After racing on to Turnbull’s through ball and setting up Abada for Celtic’s third on the hour mark, Furuhashi was denied by a superb goal-line clearance.
Turnbull began the motion by regaining possession at the midway line, and McGregor then fed Furuhashi. The Japan international passed the ball past the home left-back, and Abada finished it off expertly at the far post.
As the speed dropped, Postecoglou switched his front three, bringing in James McCarthy in place of the injured Nir Bitton.
After substitute Mikey Johnston had misplaced the ball, Uzuni delivered a superb curling effort to set up a thrilling conclusion for the home side.
Welsh was also injured, so Liam Scales was brought on to assist Celtic get the win.
The manager’s words…
“Our goal was to gain three points and keep us alive in the group,” Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou told BT Sport.
“It’s all down to the players; I thought we played incredibly well and scored three fantastic goals, and we could have had more.”
Stephen Welsh had come into the starting lineup in place of the injured Carl Starfelt, and he overcame a shaky start in which he stumbled before making a recovery tackle, and was then penalized for catching Zubkov’s face with the palm of his hand.