19 Aug Celtic 3-2 Malmo: Berget blows tie wide open
A double from Leigh Griffiths has given Celtic a precarious lead against Malmo in their Champions League play-off.
The hosts made a blistering start and scored twice inside the first 10 minutes through Griffiths and a Nir Bitton header.
Jo Inge Berget, a former Hoops player, halved the deficit for the Swedes with a stunning volley but Griffiths restored Celtic’s two-goal advantage with a looping header.
However, perhaps inevitably, Celtic flop Berget was to have the final say, blasting home for the visitors in the dying seconds of injury time.
Ronny Deila’s men have a slender lead ahead of the second leg in Malmo in six days’ time.
However, it should have been so much better for the Scottish champions but for lapses in defence – leaving their return to the lucrative group stages in the balance.
Deila opted to go for Griffiths instead of Nadir Ciftci up front after his impressive domestic form and his decision to play the former Hibernian striker was vindicated within three minutes.
Stuart Armstrong surged inside from the left, played the ball into Stefan Johansen who picked out Griffiths, and the 24-year-old – 25 on Thursday – took a touch before coolly slotting the ball beyond Johan Wiland.
It was a dream start and it got better.
They made it two soon after when Johansen whipped in a corner and Bitton leaped high to head home from close range.
It was an explosive start but naturally the Hoops were unable to maintain that ferocious intensity in their play and the match somewhat settled down.
A shell-shocked Malmo registered their first shot on goal when Virgil van Dijk’s clearance fell to Vladimir Rodic who fired a shot from the edge of the box, forcing goalkeeper Craig Gordon into a save.
Malmo seemed at their most threatening from sloppiness seeping in at the back in Celtic’s play but it was a goal of real class which got them back into the game.
And it had to be former Celtic attacker Berget, lashing home a fine volley from Magnus Eikrem’s delivery.
Hoops fans had probably wondered where that finish had come from after his disappointing stint last season, while it seemed a volley borne out of frustration for Berget.
Frustration at conceding a valuable away goal turned to joy for the hosts as they restored their two-goal cushion.
Griffiths showed great anticipation to react to Anton Tinnerholm’s ineffective clearance to send a looping header over Wiland.
However, with Mikael Lustig stretchered off already, Celtic were punished for sloppy defending and Berget fired home to give the visitors much more hope ahead of the second leg.