Soccer-Celtic dumped out of Champions League by Ferencvaros


By Martyn Herman

LONDON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Former European champions Celtic will miss out on the Champions League group stage for the third successive season after a dispiriting 2-1 home defeat by Hungary's Ferencvaros in the second qualifying round on Wednesday.

Tokmac Nguen latched on to a hopeful long punt forward to score Ferencvaros's winner in the 75th minute, rounding off a miserable night for Neil Lennon's Scottish champions.

Ferencvaros, managed by former Ukraine striker Serhiy Rebrov, go forward to the two-legged final qualifying round where they will bid to reach the group stage for the first time since 1995-96. Celtic drop into the Europa League qualifiers along with the continent's also-rans.

Dutch club AZ Alkmaar needed an equaliser in the fifth minute of stoppage time to stay alive against Czech side Plzen before winning 3-1 after extra time.

Plzen led through David Limbersky's 78th-minute goal but Teun Koopmeiners levelled from the penalty spot at the death.

Albert Gudmundsson put the hosts in front eight minutes into extra time before Koopmeiners sealed victory.

The night's most dramatic tie was in Cluj where the Romanians lost 6-5 on penalties to Dinamo Zagreb after the teams were locked at 2-2 after extra time. Gabriel Debeljuh's stoppage-time goal for Cluj had taken it into the additional period.

Cluj also missed a penalty while Zagreb played for more than an hour with 10 men after Kevin Theophile-Catherine was sent off for conceding the spot-kick.

Maccabi Tel Aviv booked their place in the final qualifying round with a 3-0 win at Lithuania's Suduva, Avi Rikan, Nick Blackman and Ofir Davidzada scoring the goals.

Norwegian champions Molde came from a goal down to beat Slovenia's Celje 2-1, while Ercan Kara's strike earned Rapid Vienna a 1-0 win over Lokomotiva Zagreb.

Young Boys of Switzerland eased through 3-1 against Faroe Island champions Ki.

Celtic have mopped up nine successive Scottish titles but when it comes to Europe they are often found wanting. Wednesday's flop was a new low, though, as they failed to even reach the final qualifying round for the first time since 2005.

They made a dreadful start at an empty Celtic Park as David Siger's long-range shot gave Ferencvaros a seventh-minute lead.

Celtic had 25 goal attempts but with French striker Odsonne Edouard missing due to injury they were wasteful.

Ryan Christie's 53rd-minute deflected shot dragged them level and it seemed that slice of luck would turn the tie in their favour. But Nguen had other ideas.

"It's massively disappointing," Lennon said. "It's anger and frustration. It's not fine going out at this stage of the competition, because we're better than that.

"We need to get our mentality right. The game was actually a lot easier than what I thought it was going to be, but we didn't take our chances."

French club Dinamo Brest beat Sarajevo 2-1, Cypriots Omonia beat Legia Warsaw 2-0 away and Denmark's Midtjylland were 1-0 winners at Bulgaria's Ludogorets.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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