Rosenborg 0-1 Celtic (Agg: 0-1): James Forrest strike sends Hoops into Champions League play-offs
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 03/08/17 6:29am
James Forrest's second-half strike ensured Celtic clinched their place in the Champions League play-offs with a 1-0 win over Rosenborg on Wednesday night.
The visitors had to be patient in Trondheim, though, before finally taking the lead with 21 minutes to go when Forrest crashed an unstoppable effort in off the bar.
That strike proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Scottish champions won 1-0 on the night - and on aggregate, after the first leg ended goalless last week - to see their name in the hat for Friday's draw.
As many had predicted pre match Celtic - who made three changes from the first leg - dominated the first half in terms of possession of the ball, albeit without testing Andre Hansen too often in the Rosenborg goal.
The visitors nearly made the breakthrough after 20 minutes when Jonny Hayes' free-kick from the left-hand touchline was met at the far post by a firm header from Erik Sviatchenko.
However, of all people it was Rosenborg forward Nicklas Bendtner who was back in the right place to smother the ball off the line and to safety.
Forward Leigh Griffiths was a substitute after recovering from a calf problem, while defender Erik Sviatchenko was passed fit to start, but striker Moussa Dembele was still missing with injury.
That was Sviatchenko's last action of the match though as the influential Denmark international, who had to pass a fitness test to take his place in the centre of the Celtic back four, was soon forced from the field with a knee injury.
The closest Brendan Rodgers' side came to opening the scoring was just before the half-hour mark as Hayes did well to skip clear to the left-hand byline before his pull back was touched goalwards by Forrest.
Forrest, though, was prevented from giving the visitors the lead by a sensational reaction save from Hansen, who somehow managed to tip the striker's close-range effort over the bar as the two teams went in on level terms at half-time.
The 24-time Norwegian champions upped the pace after the break as they went in search of a goal, but as they did, so gaps began to appear for Celtic to exploit on the counterattack.
And it was from one of those fast breaks that Celtic, who by now had introduced Leigh Griffiths in attack, got their crucial away goal.
The pacy Scott Sinclair did well to pick out the run of Forrest in the box, but after an initial poor touch by the 26-year-old, the forward then beat Hansen from a tight angle with a right-footed piledriver.
That away goal meant Rosenborg now needed to score twice to progress and as the hosts pushed more men forward, further chances came for Celtic to increase their lead.
However, faced with just Hansen to beat, both Forrest and Griffiths failed to get the better of the Rosenborg No 1.
Not that it mattered, however, as it will be Celtic in the draw for the play-offs in Nyon in two days' time.
Man of the match: Kieran Tierney
The twinkle-toed full-back, 20, was a constant threat down the left flank all game long, easily getting the better of his opposite number before sending in a number of devilish centres.
And after this display, is it any wonder that a number of big-name Premier League clubs have reportedly been monitoring the Scotland international of late.
Celtic entertain Heart of Midlothian at Parkhead on Saturday lunchtime in the opening match of the Scottish Premier champions' title defence.