Champions League Qualifying - 2nd Leg

Champions League: Stjarnan 1-4 Celtic (agg 1-6)

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland
Celtic's Nir Bitton celebrates his goal in Iceland
Bitton equalised for Celtic

Celtic recovered from a shock early goal from Stjarnan to stroll into a Champions League qualifying tie against Qarabag of Azerbaijan.

Olafur Karl Finsen's precise finish briefly gave the Icelandic part-timers hope of overturning a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in Glasgow.

But a Nir Bitton header and low Charlie Mulgrew drive either side of the interval put the tie beyond Stjarnan.

Late goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen added the gloss.

It means that the Scottish champions will face Qarabag, who defeated Rudar Pljevlja 1-0 on aggregate thanks to a near-post header from Reynaldo, in the penultimate qualifying round.

There was no hint of danger for Celtic in the opening minutes as they stroked the ball majestically around an artificial surface sparkling in the Icelandic sunshine.

With Ronny Deila reportedly concerned about the form of Emilio Izaguirre, the manager moved Mulgrew across to left-back to make room for the return of Virgil van Dijk.

The presence of the highly rated Dutchman beside Belgium international Dedryck Boyata, the summer purchase from Manchester City, promised a back line capable of blanking out a side who rarely threatened in Glasgow and who have struggled in defence of their domestic title.

However, Stjarnan's first-ever championship success was built on a counter-attacking game and they penetrated a lacklustre all-green line with their first attack.

Celtic captain Scott Brown congratulates Charlie Mulgrew
Mulgrew (right) was moved to full-back and scored Celtic's second goal and set up their fourth

El Salvador midfielder Pablo Punyed's low pass was played into the path of Finsen by Danish forward Jeppe Hansen and the Iceland international turned inside Bitton before driving low past goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Given their side's first-leg dominance, Celtic's travelling support in the tiny Samsungvollur stadium in Gardabaer, just south of Reykjavik, had not been expecting to be treated to one of the choreographed celebrations that have made Stjarnan such hits on the internet.

Stjarnan were to leave them disappointed on both counts as they greeted their goal in a more traditional style that suggested they were not happy to merely enjoy sharing the stage with former European Cup winners.

Their opponents having shown they meant business, a stuttering Celtic got back to the work of slowly breaking down a packed home defence.

Boyata thought he had added to his first-leg goal only to be pulled up for offside after turning the ball over the line when goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen had blocked from Johansen.

The expected Celtic response finally came when Bitton rose to head home a Johansen corner from close range.

If that made a Stjarnan comeback highly unlikely, Mulgrew's precision drive that skimmed across the plastic surface and into the far corner made it an impossible task.

Bitton was denied a second goal by an offside flag as both sides went close to adding to the scoreline before Gary Mackay-Steven set up Griffiths, who had replaced out-of-sorts new signing Nadir Ciftci, and Mulgrew presented Johansen with the glory of the fourth goal.

By then it was all extraneous in terms of qualification and Celtic know they will face more testing nights ahead if they are to achieve their goal of reaching the group stages.

Olafur Karl Finsen scores for Stjarnan
Olafur Karl Finsen opened the scoring for Stjarnan
Stjarnan celebrate the opening goal from Olafur Karl Finsen (centre)
There were to be no elaborate celebrations after Finsen (centre) found the net for Stjarnan
Nir Bitton heads Celtic level in Iceland
Nir Bitton headed Celtic level in Gardabaer
Charlie Mulgrew fires Celtic's second goal
Mulgrew fired Celtic into a 2-1 lead in Iceland
Celtic scorers Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen celebrate
Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen both scored late on for Celtic



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Nielsen
  • 12Aegisson
  • 2GudjónssonBooked at 61mins
  • 9Laxdal
  • 14Arnason
  • 5Praest
  • 6RunarssonSubstituted forGunnarssonat 59'minutes
  • 11BjörgvinssonSubstituted forBjörnssonat 45'minutes
  • 8Punyed
  • 17Finsen
  • 19HansenSubstituted forBarddalat 81'minutes


  • 4Laxdal
  • 10Gunnarsson
  • 18Barddal
  • 20Palsson
  • 22Kari Knutsson
  • 23Björnsson
  • 25Johannesson


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Gordon
  • 23LustigSubstituted forAmbroseat 52'minutes
  • 20Boyata
  • 5van Dijk
  • 21Mulgrew
  • 8Brown
  • 6Bitton
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 25Johansen
  • 14S ArmstrongSubstituted forGriffithsat 62'minutes
  • 7CiftciSubstituted forRogicat 82'minutes


  • 3Izaguirre
  • 4Ambrose
  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Stokes
  • 18Rogic
  • 26Bailly
  • 49Forrest
Jonathan Lardot

Match Stats

Home TeamStjarnanAway TeamCeltic
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Stjarnan 1, Celtic 4.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Stjarnan 1, Celtic 4.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Stjarnan 1, Celtic 4. Stefan Johansen (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Charlie Mulgrew.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Brynjar Gudjónsson (Stjarnan) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Pablo Punyed.

  5. Post update

    Offside, Celtic. Stefan Johansen tries a through ball, but Leigh Griffiths is caught offside.

  6. Post update

    Nir Bitton (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Veigar Gunnarsson (Stjarnan).

  8. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  9. Post update

    Delay in match Michael Praest (Stjarnan) because of an injury.

  10. Goal!

    Goal! Stjarnan 1, Celtic 3. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Gary Mackay-Steven.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Virgil van Dijk (Celtic).

  12. Post update

    Pablo Punyed (Stjarnan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Veigar Gunnarsson (Stjarnan) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Halldor Orri Björnsson.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Veigar Gunnarsson (Stjarnan) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Ólafur Karl Finsen.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Tomas Rogic replaces Nadir Ciftci.

  16. Post update

    Offside, Celtic. Craig Gordon tries a through ball, but Stefan Johansen is caught offside.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ólafur Karl Finsen (Stjarnan) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Veigar Gunnarsson with a cross.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Stjarnan. Jon Arnar Barddal replaces Jeppe Hansen.

  19. Post update

    Dangerous play by Efe Ambrose (Celtic).

  20. Post update

    Ólafur Karl Finsen (Stjarnan) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Wednesday 22nd July 2015

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