Celtic 5-0 Astana: Scott Sinclair leads Champions League rout
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 17/08/17 10:42am
Celtic have one foot in the Champions League group stage after Scott Sinclair's double inspired a 5-0 thrashing of Astana in the first leg of their play-off round tie on Wednesday.
Evgeny Postnikov turned Tom Rogic's shot into his own net after 32 minutes and Sinclair followed up with goals either side of half-time to put the home side in control at a rocking Celtic Park.
James Forrest added a fourth in the 79th minute and Leigh Griffiths' late shot was deflected in by Igor Shitov as Celtic all-but assured their progress even before the return leg in Kazakhstan on August 22.
It was a clinical display from Brendan Rodgers' side on a night when they only had three shots on target, but managed to keep Kazakh champions Astana at bay throughout.
The hosts could have been 2-0 ahead in the opening 10 minutes as Sinclair swiped a shot over from six yards out and then Griffiths headed wide from close range from a free-kick.
Celtic: Gordon (6), Lustig (7), Simunovic (7), Bitton (7), Tierney (7), Ntcham (8), Brown (7), Forrest (8), Rogic (7), Sinclair (8), Griffiths (8)
Subs: Armstrong (5), McGregor (5)
Astana: Mokin (3), Shitov (4), Postnikov (4), Logvinenko (4), Shomko (4), Twumasi (5), Maevskiy (4), Kleinheisler (4), Tomasov (4), Kabananga (4), Muzhikov (3)
Subs: Grahovac (4), Beysebekov (4), Murtazayev (4)
Man of the match: Scott Sinclair
Although Astana looked composed in possession early on, they rarely threatened, and it was Celtic who went ahead after 32 minutes as Rogic broke through and saw his chipped shot turned in by Postnikov.
The Astana defender spurned a glorious chance to score at the right end just a couple of minutes later when he missed the target with a header from six yards out.
And Celtic finished the half in charge as the ball broke through for Sinclair and he shot into the bottom corner.
Celtic made two changes from their win over Partick Thistle at the weekend as Griffiths and Rogic replaced Hayes and McGregor.
Sinclair added a third on the hour mark, finishing well after the referee allowed play to continue despite Rogic and Yuriy Logvinenko both being knocked to the ground by a clash of heads.
Griffiths sliced wide shortly afterwards from a good position inside the box, but made amends by playing a part in the fourth and fifth goals.
First he played in Forrest to fire into the corner before hitting a low shot which deflected in off Shitov in the 89th minute to seal an emphatic win.
Man of the match - Scott Sinclair
Astana managed to shackle Sinclair in the early exchanges, but the winger became more and more involved and integral after scoring Celtic's second goal before half-time.
He finished well on the hour mark to make it 3-0 and continued to look threatening as the home side ran Astana ragged in the second half.
Celtic travel to Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Football, before going to Kazakhstan to face Astana for the return leg next Tuesday.