Champions League - Qualifying Second Round - 1st Leg
Celtic5Nomme Kalju0

Celtic 5-0 Nomme Kalju: Griffiths scores first goal since November in rout

Leigh Griffiths scores for Celtic
Leigh Griffiths scored his first Celtic goal since November with a curling free-kick

Leigh Griffiths scored on his first Celtic start since December as Neil Lennon's men hammered Nomme Kalju in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie.

The striker whipped home a brilliant free-kick to net dominant Celtic's third goal on the stroke of half-time.

Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie - from the penalty spot - had put the Scots 2-0 up and Christie and Callum McGregor completed the scoring after the break to render next week's return leg in Estonia effectively moot.

Celtic are now poised to face either Israeli side Maccabi Tel-Aviv or Cluj of Romania, with the latter earning a 1-0 home win on Wednesday.

'Griffiths delivers ultimate comeback'

If the night was all about Celtic building a mountainous lead and securing their passage into the next qualifying round, then the sub-plot was all about Griffiths.

No home start in a competitive game since last September. No goal in a competitive game since last November. The striker has had his mental health to take care of and amid the process he had to endure some ugly moments of dark speculation in one of world football's capital cities for dark speculation.

Griffiths has spoken about the difficulties of hearing the gossip and the lies, but against the thoroughly outclassed Estonians he delivered the ultimate comeback. Celtic were cruising by then. After close to 40 minutes of softening up Kalju, they duly beat them up in the closing moments of the opening half.

Christie's free-kick was nutted home by Ajer via the underside of Pavel Londak's crossbar. Celtic lost Boli Bolingoli through illness straight after; Mikey Johnston came on and played with verve. Surely we'll see more of him this season than last.

Six minutes later, Celtic went two ahead, the influential Christie winning a penalty when Aleksandr Kulinits stuck out an arm to stop his delivery. Christie lashed the penalty past Londak. Such was the ferocity of the strike, three Londaks might not have stopped it.

The piece-de-resistance was coming, though. With time almost up at the end of the half, Griffiths lined up his second free-kick of the night. The first one came off the defensive wall and fell to Scott Brown whose point-blank shot was blocked by Londak, but this time the outcome would be altogether different.

Leigh Griffiths
Leigh Griffiths' goal was his first since 24 November last year

Griffiths' execution was lethal. Over the wall it soared and down it descended into the top right-hand corner. Londak flailed as any goalkeeper would have flailed. The striker ran away to celebrate and sank to his knees. It's early days, but if this moment marks the return of Griffiths as a striker of substance then what terrific news for Celtic - and Scotland.

He was replaced early in the second half, leaving to a standing ovation. Celtic could have been further ahead by then, Kalju's goal being peppered non-stop. A fourth arrived just after the hour mark, Christie curling a left-footed pearler beyond Londak's reach.

Christopher Jullien, the £7m centre-half, started on the bench and on the bench he remained. Lennon suggested that he's not quite up to the speed of things just yet, not that he was needed. You don't bring on a defender when you're running over the top of your opponents, every one of your attacks promising goals.

Lennon brought on Olivier Ntcham for Christie. Christie got the appreciation he deserved, the Frenchman got the lukewarm reception he deserved. If anything, given some of Ntcham's comments about wanting to move clubs, he got off lightly. Celtic's supporters were probably too cheery to give him any more stick. Soon, they'd be cheerier still.

The fifth was rattled in by McGregor, an emphatic thump that flew into the net. Game over. Tie over. In this marathon qualifying process nights like this are a relief. They can take it handy in Estonia next week before the big stuff begins again the week after.

'Christie must be on Premier League radar' - analysis

Former Celtic defender John Hughes on Sportsound

I felt Ryan Christie was man-of-the-match, as he was last week. He's making up for lost time after his horrendous injury. He won Brendan Rodgers over last year and he has certainly won Neil Lennon over. He's one of the first names on the team-sheet now. He must be on the radar of big English Premier League clubs with these kind of displays.

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on Sportsound

The next two rounds are critical. It's almost about the mentality, not ability, keeping their heads and not letting the pressure get to them. We've seen it before in Europe when we expect a performance and then they get nervy. If Neil Lennon can deal with that, I think they are in a good position.

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 29Bain
  • 6Bitton
  • 23Bolingoli-MbomboSubstituted forJohnstonat 37'minutes
  • 49Forrest
  • 35Ajer
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forMorganat 59'minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 8Brown
  • 5SimunovicBooked at 62mins
  • 22Edouard
  • 17ChristieBooked at 45minsSubstituted forNtchamat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gordon
  • 2Jullien
  • 11Sinclair
  • 15Hayes
  • 16Morgan
  • 19Johnston
  • 21Ntcham

Nomme Kalju

  • 96Londak
  • 2Kulinits
  • 26Markovych
  • 27Puri
  • 4Avilov
  • 15Subbotin
  • 5Uggè
  • 7M'bu Alidor
  • 11Costa MoraisSubstituted forMashichevat 84'minutes
  • 43PaurSubstituted forVolkovat 75'minutes
  • 21KleinSubstituted forMataat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Teles
  • 3Reintam
  • 6Tjapkin
  • 9Mashichev
  • 20Volkov
  • 99Mata
Referee:
Jakob Kehlet
Attendance:
41,872

Live Text

Match ends, Celtic 5, Nomme Kalju 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Celtic 5, Nomme Kalju 0.

Substitution

Substitution, Nomme Kalju. Nikolay Mashichev replaces Liliu.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 5, Nomme Kalju 0. Callum McGregor (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Nomme Kalju. Aleksandr Volkov replaces Kaspar Paur.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Olivier Ntcham replaces Ryan Christie.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 4, Nomme Kalju 0. Ryan Christie (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

Booking

Jozo Simunovic (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Lewis Morgan replaces Leigh Griffiths.

Second Half

Second Half begins Celtic 3, Nomme Kalju 0.

Substitution

Substitution, Nomme Kalju. Max Mata replaces Peeter Klein.

Half Time

First Half ends, Celtic 3, Nomme Kalju 0.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 3, Nomme Kalju 0. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

Booking

Ryan Christie (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 2, Nomme Kalju 0. Ryan Christie (Celtic) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Michael Johnston replaces Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo.

Goal!

Goal! Celtic 1, Nomme Kalju 0. Kristoffer Ajer (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

Kick Off

First Half begins.

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Wednesday 24th July 2019

  • CelticCeltic5Nomme KaljuNomme Kalju0
  • BATE BorisovBATE Borisov2RosenborgRosenborg1
  • CFR ClujCFR Cluj1Maccabi Tel-AvivMaccabi Tel-Aviv0
  • Ferencvárosi TCFerencvárosi TC3Valletta FCValletta FC1
  • NK MariborNK Maribor2AIKAIK1
  • Red Star BelgradeRed Star Belgrade2HJK HelsinkiHJK Helsinki0
  • DundalkDundalk1FK QarabagFK Qarabag1

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Dortmund6411102813
2Atl Madrid641196313
3Club Brugge61326516
4Monaco6015214-121

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Barcelona6420145914
2Tottenham6222910-18
3Inter Milan622267-18
4PSV Eindhoven6024613-72

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1PSG6321179811
2Liverpool63039729
3Napoli62317529
4Red Star Belgrade6114517-124

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1FC Porto6510156916
2Schalke632164211
3Galatasaray611458-34
4Lokomotiv Moscow6105412-83

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Bayern Munich64201551014
2Ajax6330115612
3Benfica6213611-57
4AEK Athens6006213-110

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Man City64111661013
2Lyon6150121118
3Shakhtar Donetsk6132816-86
4Hoffenheim60331114-33

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Madrid6402125712
2Roma630311839
3Viktoria Plzen6213716-97
4CSKA Moscow621389-17

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Juventus640294512
2Man Utd631274310
3Valencia62226608
4Young Boys6114412-84
View full Champions League tables

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