Celtic avoided defeat and scored a precious away goal to make themselves favourite to advance to the group stages
90+4 min: Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeep! It’s finished all square in Maribor, which is a result Celtic will be happy with going back to Celtic Park next week. They were impressive in spots this evening, considering their decidedly average personnel, but made enough silly mistakes to have lost the tie. I think it’s fair to say they won’t be causing anyone too many problems in the group stages should they go on to win this tie.
90+3 min: We’re in the final minute of added time and Maribor win a throw-in deep inside their own half.
90+2 min: Now Celtic have a corner, won by Stefan Johansen who’d shot at Handanovic from close range. They take it, Maribor clear and Celtic win a throw-in deep inside the opposition half to keep the pressure on their hosts.
90+1 min: Maribor win a corner after a sloppy mistake by Efe Ambrose, who at gives the ball away but at least recovers to concede the corner. The ball’s played into the penalty area by Ibraimi, but Lustig heads clear.
90 min: Mikael Lustig wins a free-kick deep inside his own half, down by the corner flag, after being fouled by Sallalich.
89 min: With Celtic on the counter-attack, Charlie Mulgrew plays the ball through for Callum McGregor to chase. Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic rushes off his line to clear.
88 min: Maribor win a free-kick on the right flank, almost in line with the edge of the Celtic penalty area. Mitja Viler whips the ball towards the far post, but Mikael Lustig heads clear.
86 min: Another corner for Maribor, this one coneded by Callum McGregor. Ibraimi’s outswinger is cleared by Nir Biton, the Israeli substitute who has just replaced Baram Kayal.
85 min: Callum McGregor lets the menacing Agim Ibraimi get in behind down by the byline and the Maribor forward wins a corner from his subsequent cross. There are anxious moments for Celtic, but Virgil van Dijk clears.
83 min: That’s a fine save from Craig Gordon, who flings himself to his right to claw a Mertelj screamer from distance around the right upright. It may not have been on target, but he couldn’t take any chances. It was a fine shot from the substitute, whose brother, I may have mentioned, is a professional water polo player.
81 min: Celtic susbtitution: Anthony Stokes, who looks exhausted, makes way for birthday boy Lee Griffiths, who is 24 today. Maribor substitution: Amir Derisevic off, Ales Mertelj on. Yes, that Ales Mertej, whose brother is a professional water polo player. Don’t pretend you didn’t know.
79 min: Maribor susbtitution: Goalscorer Damjan Bohar traipses off, to be replaced by Sintayehu Sallallich, the Israeli Under-21 international. Don’t pretend you didn’t know.
75 min: Virgil van Dijk tried his luck a couple of minutes ago, shooting from 30 yards and bringing a decent save out of Handanovic, who was forcved to tip over the bar and concede the corner. Nothing came of the set piece.
75 min: With Celtic committing lots of players forward, Maribor embark on a counter-attack. Callum McGregor takes one for the team, picking up a yellow card with a cynical tug on the shirt of Agim Ibraimi. Moments previously, Celtic had a strong penalty-shout turned down when Baram Kayal went down under a challenge from Mitja Viler on the right-hand side of the Maribor penalty area. No spot-kick is forthcoming.
74 min: Maribor substitution: Jean-Philippe Mendy on, Dare Vrsic off. Celtic substitution: Jo Inge Berget off, Efe Ambrose on. Mikael Lustig moves to left-back, Ambrose moves to right-back and Emilio Izaguirre moves up to occupy the position previously held by Berget.
72 min: A shocking miss from Stefan Johansen f Celtic, who bursts between Maribor’s central defenders and, with the goal at his mercy, loses control of the ball with a clumsy touch.
71 min: Izaguirre tees up Baram Kayal, who shoots high and wide.
70 min: Stokes takes the corner, sending the ball towards the near post. Maribor clear.
69 min: Celtic win a free-kick on the left flank, between the side of the penalty area and the touchline. Suler it was who conceded the free-kick, for needlessly bringing down Jason Denayer. Anthony Stokes whips the ball goalwards, but it’s headed out for a corner.
66 min: More decent play from Stokes, who wins a long ball from the back on the edge of the penalty area and steals half a yard before unleasching another low diagonal drive. This one rolls inches wide of the left upright.
64 min: Celtic advance into Maribor territory with Emilio Izaguirre on the ball. He plays it to Anthony Stokes in the inside right channel, who shoots diagonally from right to left, but well wide. Stefan Johansen was coming up in support, but didn’t get there quick enough.
61 min: Callum McGregor performs brilliantly to leave Marko Suker in his dust as he sprints down the right flank, before standing the ball up for Anthony Stokes, six or seven yards out from the Maribor goal. He fails to connect properly and appeals loudly for a penalty, claiming his marker Aleksander Rajcevic handled the ball. The ball may have hit the centre-back’s hand, but it was from close range and there was nothing he could do to avoid it.
59 min: A loose pass from Izaguirre gifts possession to Marcos Tavares just outside the Celtic penalty area and Maribor send the ball out towards the left flank. The cross is inch-perfect and Ajim Ibraimi doesn’t even have to leap in order to bring a smart save out of Craig Gordon with his downward header towards the corner.
57 min: “What’s up with Jeremy Boyce (13 mins)?” asks John. “I mean, why now? Has he been on vacation in the 1960’s or something and just come back?Things have been going this way for a while in Scotland. If he’s only just arrived in the present, he should check out Rangers and the two Edinburgh clubs.”
56 min: Maribor advance again, with Derisevic attempting to pick out Damjan Bohar with a cross-field pass towards the corner. Calum McGregor intercepts and plays the ball out of defence for Celtic.
55 min: Ibraimi takes the free-kick but fails to get hold of it properly and sends his effort straight into the base of Celtic’s defensive wall.
54 min: Emilio Izaguirre fouls Zejko Felipovic and is lucky to escape a booking. Free-kick for Maribor, about 30 yards from the Celtic goal.
53 min: Amir Derisovic sends a shot from the edge of the penalty area fizzing over the Celtic crossbar.
52 min: Felipovic, who has been very impressive for Maribor tonight, picks out Amir Derisovic with another fine pass to the corner. Celtic clear and get the ball forward to Anthony Stokes, who is crowded off it once again.
50 min: Jason Denayer wins a free-kick after being tripped by Zejko Filipovic in midfield.
49 min: Jo Inge Berget advances down the left flank, waiting for Stefan Johansen to come up in support. The Norwegian decides not to bother and Maribor clear.
48 min: Maribor apply some pressure, surging forward and firing over the bar, courtesy of Dare Vrsic.
46 min: In the Slovenia goal, Jasmin Handanovic shanks a clearnace straight to somebody in a Celtic shirt. It ricochets forward to Anthony Stokes, who is approximately 15 yards offside. He scoops the ball up and over Handanovic into the Maribor goal, but knows it won’t count. Nice finish, all the same.
Second half: Maribor get the second half started, playing into the Stanislava Brezovar end. Well, it may not be the Stanislava Brezovar end, but he’s the only famous Slovene I know. There are no changes to either line-up.
An email from Simon Roberts: “Every time I hear about this Celtic being allowed through in Europe malarkey I can’t help but think of this,” he writes.
Half-time analysis ... of another match: “Well, my hopes of seeing Celtic today have been stymied as they have decided to televise Standard Liege v Zenit here instead,” writes JR in Illinois. “This game is no good. At least I’m getting to see Tony Watt. Unfortunately I’m not sure if he has touched the ball yet. Ah well, we’ll always have that goal against Barcelona. AVB wardrobe update: He’s wearing a track suit sort of deal with navy trousers and a light blue top.”
Half-time: The sides go in all square at one goal apiece, following Callum McGregor’s early opener and Damjan Bohar’s subsequent equaliser. Both teams will feel they should be ahead, but they’ll be equally pleased they aren’t behind after a half in which both could have conceded two or three goals.
44 min: Virgil van Dijk is forced to earn his corn, chasing Marcos Tavares down the right flank and muscling him off the ball on the edge of the penalty area as the Maribor forward attempted to burst through on goal.
43 min: Anthony Stokes is forced to labour fruitlessly, chasing two aimless balls from deep in quick succession.
42 min: Zejko Filipovic plays another beautifully weighted pass over the Celtic back four for Agim Ibraimi to chase in to the penalty area. Celtic clear courtesy of Jason Denayer.
41 min: Asim Ibraimi cuts in from the right flank and unleashes a powerful surface-to-air screamer that stings the palms of Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal. The ball breaks to Gordon’s left, where Dare Vrsic fires high and wide from a tight angle on the edge of the six-yard box.
39 min: With his back to goal in the Celtic penalty area, Maribor No10 Agim Ibraimi chests down a fine Filipovic delivery from the right flank and turns, under close scrutiny from Iazaguirre. The referee penalises him for handling the ball and Celtic win a free-kick.
36 min: Maribor’s meekness as the home side seems fairly remarkable. Guardian Scottish fitba expert Ewan Murray may have been tweeting about Maribor’s shortcomings, but Celtic don’t look like world-beaters either and you think whichever team grabs this match by the scruff of the neck could win it comfortably.
33 min: It seems Johansen’s blushes might have been spared by the linesman’s flag. Apparently he was offside as well as in the way.
31 min: Celtic win another corner courtesy of Izaguirre, which Stokes takes from the left. His inswinger is sensational and Virgil van Dijk connects with a free header on the edge of the six-yard box. His goal-bound effort hits his team-mate Stefan Johansen in the face. Oh Celtic.
28 min: Charlie Mulgrew picks out Mikael Lustig with a long pass to the corner, deep in the Maribor half. The right-back crosses towards the far post, but there’s nobody present to gewt on the end of his delivery.
25 min: Maribor win a corner, after Izaguirre is forced to put a whipped cross from - I think - Bohar out for a corner. Dare Vrsic swings the ball into the mixer, but Celtic clear. Moments later, Maribor win another corner, but nothing comes of that either.
24 min: Yet another corner for Celtic, who are turning the screw on opponents who are playing very meekly and giving the Scottish champions a lot more respect than they perhaps deserve. Johansen’s delivery is better this time, but it’s headed over by Lustig.
22 min: Celtic win another corner, which Johansen takes. This time is delivery is feeble, failing to clear the defender on the near post. The Norwegian raises as a hand by way of apology to his team-mates.
21 min: Another corner for Celtic, which Stefan Johansen sends towards the back post. His delivery is excellent and finds it’s way to Charlie Mulgrew, who’d made a run to meet it. His meaty header is cleared off the line by Zejko Filipovic.
19 min: Emilio Izaguirre floats in a pass from the left flank, but overhits it and forces Anthony Stokes to go chasing it. Moments later, the ball finds it way back to Izaguirre and the Honduran whips in another cross, attempting to pick out Stokes at the far post. Maribor centre-back Marko Suler clears for a corner, from which nothing comes.
16 min: The defending there was poor, to say the least. Zejko Filipovic played a slide-rule pass through the Celtic defence, where Mikael Lustig allowed left winger Damjan Bohar to run across him, latch on to the through-ball and slot home from about six or seven yards.
Oh dear, Damjan Bohar latches on to a through-ball which carved open the Celtic defence to slot home from close range past Craig Gordon.
13 min: Jeremy Boyce writes: “WTF. is going on, when the legacy of Gemmill, Johnstone, Simpson et al. comes down to this, a dodgy qualifier against the Slovenian (!) giants of Maribor,” he asks. “What happened ? Where did all the money go ? 55,000 adoring, PAYING public a week (alright, a fortnight) and this is the best they can do ? The biggest interest is ‘should Stokes be playing alone up front ?’. Jock must be spinning. The real question is, should Stokes (or most of the rest of them) even be playing? Bazza, you could play as well as half of these muppets.” No, I couldn’t.
11 min: More patient possession play from Celtic, just inside their own half of the pitch. It’s an understandably sensible, if dull approach.
9 min: A brief moment of panic as Izaguirre loses Agim Ibrami, who miscontrols a fine ball over the top in the Celtic penalty area.
8 min: Celtic attack again, with Stefan Johansen crossing into the Maribor box, where Anthony Stokes is outjumped for the header. The ball breaks as far as Miakel Lustig on the right, whose cross is intercepted and cleared.
Celtic open the scoring after Jo Inge Berget controls a beautiful pass into the left side of the Maribor penalty area and takes advantage of a lucky bounce off a defender and shoots low and hard towards the near post. Jasmin Handanovic gets down to the save, but the ball breaks kindly for Callum McGregor, who volleys into the empty net from the edge of the six yard box.
5 min: Celtic are given the freedom of their own half as they play the ball out of defence, with Maribor remaining compact inside their own half as the Scottish side move forward.
4 min: Marko Suler lumps the ball forward for Maribor, but Mikael Lustig clears as far as Callum McGregor.
2 min: Celtic pass the ball around the back, inside their own half. The ball’s played to left-backk Emilio Izaguirre on the left touchline and he moves it inside. After patient build-up, the ball’s played back out to Izaguirre on the left from the edge of the penalty area, but his attempted cross is cleared.
1 min: Celtic kick off, playing from left to right in the intimate surroundings of the Stadion Ljudski. Around 300 Celtic fans have made the journey to Slovenia for this evening’s game.
Lou Roper mails in: “Surely enquiring MBM ‘minds’ will wish to know the most salient prospect for Celtic’s progress: which ineligible player have Maribor fielded?” he wonders.
Not long now: The teams march out of the tunnel, with Charlie Mulgrew leading out Celtic in the absence of the injured Scott Brown. The Scottish champions wear their usual kit of green and white hoops, white shorts and green and white socks. Their hosts wear purpley-blue shirts with yellow collars and trim, with similarly coloured shorts and socks.
That reply made me laugh on a couple of levels. It’s funny, for a start, but you have to admire the complete lack of awareness demonstrated by a Rangers fan accusing another club of not playing by the rules.
John McEnerney writes: “Tight tie this one for The Hoops!” he says. “Tavares a Brazilian born striker and Ibraimi an attacking midfielder will be the main danger men. Celtic need to box clever here tonight; an early away goal would do nicely and solid defending.”
Gordon-watch: As a Sunderland fan, I have to say that it’s nice to see club old boy Craig Gordon back between the sticks after several years out with injury. Good luck to him.
An email from Simon McMahon: “Evening Barry,” he writes. “It’s not every day you get to see a picture of a current Dundee United player during a Champions League MBM. Congratulations Gary Mackay-Steven, and another first for the Guardian.”
Tonight’s match is being played in Maribor’s Stadion Ljudski, which is located on the left bank of the river Drava in the district of Koroska Vrata in Maribor, Slovenia’s second city. The capacity is just shy of 13,000. Interesting fact: the main stand boasts a 129m long and 18m high concrete arch that is protected by the institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia as an architectural and historical landmark.
In the Sky Sports studios: Charlie Nicholas is working as a pundit and is nonplussed, if not a little bewildered by Celtic’s selection. He seems mystified by the absence of Kris Commons from the Celtic starting XI and feels Anthony Stokes shouldn’t be playing on his own up front. He insists that the Republic of Ireland international needs a runner alongside him to bring out his best.
Maribor (4-4-2): Handanovic, Stojanovic, Rajcevic, Suler, Viler, Vrsic, Filipovic, Dervisevic, Bohar, Tavares, Ibraimi.
Subs: Cotman, Mejac, Sallalich, Zahovic, Mendy, Arghus, Mertelj.
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Gordon, Lustig, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre, Johansen,
Mulgrew, McGregor, Kayal, Berget, Stokes.
Subs: Zaluska, Ambrose, Biton, Commons, Pukki, Griffiths, Henderson.
Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic)
Early team news: Scott Brown (hamstring), James Forrest (hamstring) and Adam Matthews (calf) all miss out for Celtic, while Efe Ambrose flew out to join his team-mates today after being cleared to play in tonight’s match by Uefa.
The Celtic centre-back was sent off in the first leg of Celtic’s “win” over Legia Warsaw, but was left out of the travelling party for tonight’s match because club officials were unsure whether he’d officially served his one-match ban after sitting out the second leg at Murrayfield, which was later wiped out and awarded to Celtic 3-0 after Legia fielded an ineleigible player.
Celtic had been concerned that Ambrose’s ban had therefore not been served and didn’t want to take any chances. Having received assurances from Uefa that the Nigerian international is allowed to play tonight, they promptly bundled him into a cardboard box and threw him on a passing DHL truck bound for Maribor. Maribor, as their manager has reported, have no injury concerns.
Maribor manager Ante Simundza speaks: “We’ve been preparing for this very important match in our usual way,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “Fortunately we have no injuries, we are 100% motivated and focused. We know very well the weaknesses and strengths of our visitors from Glasgow.
“With their new coach they play a more Scandinavian game with a lot of fast running and with very dynamic players all around the pitch. The Celtic coach is young and new, meaning his ideas are maybe not so visible yet. We are ready for their aggressive style. But first we have to impose our style of play on them. It is true that Celtic lost 6-1 to Legia over two legs but they had a lot of bad luck and missed a lot of chances. This result must not influence our players.”
Celtic manager Ronny Deila speaks: “We came here for a good result and I think it will be close,” he said. “However, it’s only 90 minutes for this match here and we still have to play a week later in Glasgow. We have two difficult matches behind us now and I have gathered some very important experiences and information. The players are fitter and sharper, so I expect a much better performance in Maribor than against Legia several weeks ago.
“Maribor are a well-organised club, they look very good on the pitch and are very strong at counterattacking. Every Champions League play-off is different, but if we play our way we can beat anybody. We will try to use this opportunity to qualify for the group stage.”
Barry will be here shortly.