The miracle happened, when Celtic was dumped out of UEFA Champions League by the Romanian champion CFR in a dramatic game Tuesday night in Glasgow. The Transylvanian team won against the Scottish champion by 4-3 (aggregate 5-4) in the third qualifying round of the Champions League and made it into the play-off round, where they will play against Slavia Praha. This means that CFR will be participating in the group stages of one of the major European cups this autumn. (In case of victory against the Czech team in the Champions League in case of defeat in the Europa League.)
CFR played in front of almost 60 thousand spectators in the legendary Celtic Park Stadium in Glasgow, showing a brave tactic from the very beginning, and thanks to Ciprian Deac’s score took the lead at the end of the first half hour. This remained the score in the half time as well but then the Scottish champions made a storming start to the second half and went 2-1 ahead through goals from James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard.
But then Celtic player Scott Brown gifted the visitors a penalty in the 74th minute when he handled following a corner under no real pressure. Billel Omrani scored the penalty: 2-2.
Only two minutes later Celtic took the lead again after Ryan Christie’s goal (3-2), but Omrani quickly replied and scored his second goal in the 80th minute (3-3) putting the Transylvanian team ahead again on away goals. But this was still not the end. In the 96th minute of the game George Tucudean scored the fourth CFR goal with the last kick of the game finalizing a 5-4 aggregate win for the Romanian champion.
“It’s hugely disappointing for us all,” said Celtics coach, Neil Lennon and continued: “We are going to have to accept the criticism that comes our way whether it be from the media or our own supporters or elsewhere. We have to regroup and make sure we qualify for the Europa League and make a strong claim in that.”
CFR head coach, Dan Petrescu, led already Unirea Urziceni to a 4-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox in 2009 but declared this win a greater achievement:
“I can’t believe it, it’s the second time I have played in the Champions League in Scotland and my team scored four goals,”
he said and countinued: “I never expected that. I told my players they would have to play the game of their lives and told them it would be a miracle if Celtic didn’t score, because they have so much quality they can win against any team in Europe. It’s one of the best victories in my career.”
CFR plays its first play-off game against Slavia Praha at home in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca next Tuesday.
Title image: CFR celebrates their shock victory over Celtic (Photo: Action Images via Reuters)