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Celtic beat AZ 2-0 to take advantage in Europa League tie

Ange Postecoglou's side took a step towards the group stage with the first leg win.

Celtic beat AZ 2-0 to take advantage in Europa League tie SNS Group

Celtic have the advantage in their Europa League play-off tie against AZ Alkmaar after beating the Dutch side 2-0 at Parkhead.

Kyogo Furuhashi continued the eye-catching start to his Celtic career with the opening goal, before James Forrest’s deflected shot doubled Celtic’s lead.

AZ started the brighter of the two sides, with Zakaria Aboukhlal looking for a penalty after a promising attack after just three minutes and Vangelis Pavlidis forcing a smart save from Joe Hart just moments later.

Celtic took the lead in spectacular fashion after just quarter of an hour. Tom Rogic took the ball on the left side and showed his skills to hit the byline and deliver a dangerous cross that Kyogo met in acrobatic fashion, turning the ball into the roof of the net.

The hosts then poured forward in search of a quick-fire second. Liel Abada tested Hobie Verhulst and then Tom Rogic saw his shot on the rebound blocked.

With Celtic pressing forward, AZ were looking to make the most of space that opened up and Aboukhlal had two opportunities in quick succession that Hart dealt with. Stephen Welsh went close with a header at the other end.

After the break, AZ had a golden opportunity to level. Aboukhal worked his way into the box and delivered a cut-back that gave left-back Thijs Oosting an open goal to aim at but the defender fired over from 10 yards.

Celtic punished the Dutch side for not taking their chance just after the hour mark. Kyogo picked out Forrest in the box and the winger turned and hit his shot, seeing it take a deflection that carried it past Verhulst and into the net.

Both sides made changes to freshen their sides up and Celtic nearly had further reward with seven minutes to go. Tony Ralston raced forward and picked out Odsonne Edouard but the Frenchman was denied by a brilliant save from Verhulst, who was then up quickly to beat out the striker’s header right on the line, then Adam Montgomery’s header was blocked by Bruno Martins Indi.

Oosting then drew a save from Hart but Celtic pushed forward in injury time but couldn’t add a third.

The teams meet in the AFAAS Stadium next Thursday with Celtic holding the upper hand as they look to reach the group stages.