Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota and Liel Abada were on target for Celtic as they beat Ferencvaros 3-2 in Hungary on Thursday to boost their hopes of making the Europa League knockout stages.
Furuhashi opened the scoring in an entertaining first half, finding the bottom-left corner inside the first three minutes, but a Josip Juranov own goal – deflected in from Oleksandr Zubkov’s effort – saw Ferencvaros level the scores.
Jota lashed a terrific strike in off the post from long distance to restore the Bhoys’ advantage later in the first half, and Abada added a third on the hour mark after some neat build-up play from the visitors before Myrto Uzuni pulled one back for Ferencvaros late on.
The result sees Ferencvaros eliminated from the group as their wait for a point goes on, while Celtic close the gap to second place to just one point.
Ange Postecoglou’s men quickly went ahead, Furuhashi feinting on his right foot and slotting inside the near post with his left after Abada pounced on a loose ball high up the field.
The visitors’ lead lasted just eight minutes as Ferencvaros equalised with the help of a wicked deflection off Juranovic that looped Zubkov’s low shot over a stranded Joe Hart and in after Celtic gave the ball away cheaply.
Celtic reclaimed their advantage in the 23rd minute of an end-to-end first half as Jota finished off an incisive counter-attack with a superb strike, cutting in from the left to curl in off the near post from the edge of the box.
The crossbar was rattled at either end within five minutes of the restart as Tokmac Nguen struck a ferocious effort from the edge of the box that cannoned off the woodwork before Anthony Ralston headed against the frame of the goal from David Turnbull’s cross.
In the 59th minute, Furuhashi thought he had made it 3-1 but saw the ball hacked off the line after he had dinked over Adam Bogdan.
Celtic did grab a third goal just a minute later, though, with Abada rifling into the bottom-left corner from a tight angle to finish off a slick move.
Uzuni curled a lovely strike from long range into the bottom-right corner in the 86th minute to set up a nervy finish, but the hosts were unable to complete the comeback and earn a draw.
What does it mean? Celtic close the gap
Having started the evening four points behind both Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis, Celtic are now just one point off the latter after Betis’ 4-0 defeat in Germany.
The result means that Celtic are guaranteed more European football, whether that be in the Europa League or the Europa Conference League, with Ferencvaros eliminated from contention with no points after four games.
Bhoys end Europa League away losing run
Before this outing, Celtic had lost each of their last three away games in the Europa League, conceding exactly four goals in each match.
Postecoglou’s charges put in a strong showing on the road on this occasion, however, making sure they avoided an unwanted record of four straight away defeats in the competition.
Ferencvaros’ wait for a European win goes on
Ferencvaros have now lost each of their last seven matches in European competition. This is their longest ever sequence of defeats in their history in Europe.
Additionally, the Hungarian champions have played five home matches in the Europa League to date and are still waiting for their first such victory (D2 L3).
Key Opta Facts
– Ferencvaros have lost all four of their games in the Europa League this season, equalling their longest run of defeats in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (four between 1972 and 1977).
– Celtic picked up their first away win in major European competition since November 2019 (2-1 v Lazio in the Europa League) – it is just their second victory in their last 10 such games (D3 L5).
– Excluding qualifiers, this is the first time Celtic have scored three or more goals in consecutive away games in major European competition for the first time since September-October 1970 in the European Cup (5-0 v KPV and 7-0 v Waterford United).
– Despite their victory, Celtic have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last 10 away games in the Europa League, and have only managed one in their last 25 away from home in the competition overall (1-0 v Rosenborg in November 2018).
Ferencvaros travel to Spain to face Real Betis in their next Europa League game on November 25, while Celtic are in Germany to play Bayer Leverkusen on the same day.
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