Europa League - Group E

Lazio 1-2 Celtic: Neil Lennon's side reach Europa League last 32

By Kheredine IdessaneBBC Scotland at Stadio Olimpico
Olivier Ntcham's 95th-minute goal put Celtic into the last 32 with two games to spare
Olivier Ntcham's 95th-minute goal put Celtic into the last 32 with two games to spare

Olivier Ntcham's dramatic stoppage-time strike earned Celtic a stunning win over Lazio and a place in the Europa League last 32 with two games to spare.

Serie A's top scorer Ciro Immobile had given Lazio the lead with an unopposed back-post volley, but James Forrest lashed in his 11th goal of the season just before the break to level.

Neil Lennon's side had to defend stoutly after the break and looked like they would earn a point until Ntcham ran on to an Odsonne Edouard pass to secure Celtic's first win in Italy.

It is the second time in two weeks that the Scottish Premiership side have stunned Lazio with a late winner, Christopher Jullien's header earning victory in Glasgow two weeks ago.

It also means that their games with Rennes at Celtic Park and against Cluj in Romania will now only decide whether they win the group or not.

Famous victory for Roman lions to savour

When you haven't ever beaten an Italian side in their own country, the last thing you want to do is give them a helping hand. The concession of a goal inside seven minutes to the predatory instincts of Immobile rendered a tricky task more akin to mission impossible.

Several key Celtic players looked ill at ease in a 3-5-2 formation in which Forrest and Jonny Hayes were deployed as wing-backs and struggled to adapt, not helped by the players in front of them constantly giving the ball away. The Irishman in particular looked like a fish out of water as Lazio pinpointed a perceived weakness in their opponents.

Keeping the deficit at just a single goal for half an hour was a minor triumph as pressure from the impressive Immobile almost led to an own goal when Jullien headed narrowly past Fraser Forster's left-hand post. There were other moments when a frantic Celtic back line had to do some last-ditch defending to keep the marauding hosts out.

Slowly but surely, the visitors found their feet. Twice Mohamed Elyounoussi made threatening advances but failed to find a final product.

And just before the break, a moment of magic that would have graced any arena. The pass from Elyounoussi to Forrest, in behind the Lazio defence. A rocket of a shot into the top right-hand corner of Thomas Strakosha's net. Wild celebrations from nearly 10,000 visiting fans who hadn't had anything to get excited about prior to that.


Parity celebrated five minutes before the break, and only preserved by a wonderful save by Forster from a Sergej Milinkovic-Savic header, and then an even better goal-line clearance by Jullien to deny Felipe Caicedo as Lazio tried to hit back straight away. In a frantic minute or two, Marco Parolo then headed over when he could, and probably should, have scored.

A half of two halves, if you will, and a blessed relief for Lennon to get his men in for half-time still on level terms with a very dangerous-looking opponent.

That said, had Edouard taken an early second-half chance, this game could have been completely turned on his head. A dodgy clearance by Strakosha gifted Celtic the ball and when Edouard was played in, the Albanian goalkeeper made amends with a strong save from the French striker's shot.

More Celtic pressure drew a mistake from Lucas Leiva, which allowed Forrest to break clear. But with Hayes and Edouard screaming for a pass, the Scotland forward fancied a second goal but his effort was blocked by a defender, much to Edouard's fury.

The dynamic of the match had changed completely; the meek start made by Celtic a distant memory, fading as quickly as the smoke from the pyrotechnics which were on show before a ball was kicked. Uefa has punished Celtic for that before and seem almost certain to do so again.

The fireworks on the field were coming from the yellow-shirted visitors. Some fabulous build-up play involving Christie, McGregor and Forrest left Edouard with the ball inside the Lazio box. However, he couldn't control it and a most presentable chance was gone in an instant.

It was almost instantly regretted too, as Forster once again kept out a Milinkovic-Savic header with an impressive point-blank save. All of a sudden, Lazio seemed to regain their belief. Substitute Luis Alberto nearly scored straight from a corner; the ball ballooned back off Forster's near post as Celtic breathed a sizeable sigh of relief.

James Forrest's superb European form

And then came what felt like 'the' chance. Elyounoussi's pass to Edouard was inch-perfect, inviting the Frenchman to race into the left-hand side of the penalty area. His curling shot slipped agonisingly wide. Would there be a better opportunity all night?

Edouard tried to make amends with a free-kick moments later but again was narrowly off target, this time over the crossbar. This was a half full of passion, pride and no little skill from Celtic. A pulsating contest which ebbed first one way and then another with both defences having plenty of work to do to subdue some smart attacking play from both sets of forwards.

No more so than when a great, late chance presented itself for Lazio's Luis Alberto, only for the powerful left hand of Forster to keep Celtic level.

And then the moment of history. Another Lazio mistake gifted Edouard the ball, and he played in fellow Frenchman Ntcham, whose delicious chip took Celtic through and sent their jubilant fans away into the Roman night delirious.

The first time Celtic have ever won on Italian soil, and only the second time ever they've beaten an Italian side away from home. The other time was that famous night in Lisbon in 1967. These Roman lions in Celtic shirt may not be remembered as long, but they'll savour a famous, famous victory. And rightly so.

Man of the match - Fraser Forster

Immobile and Milinkovic-Savic were standouts for Lazio. Forrest had a good game and scored an excellent goal for Celtic.

But for providing several top-class saves at vital moments - a bit like he did in the last meeting against the Italians at Celtic Park - the award goes to Forster. Celtic deserved to take something from this game and the Englishman was the man who helped deliver it with a wonderful late save, and several more earlier in the match.

Fraser Forster celebrates
Fraser Forster made a magnificent save from Lazio's Danilo Cataldi in added time at Celtic Park two weeks ago to ensure his side held on for a 2-1 win. He was inspired again in Rome

Match stats

  • Celtic have recorded three consecutive victories in the Uefa Cup/Europa League for the first time since November 2002, when they won six in a row on their way to the Uefa Cup final
  • Forrest netted his fourth goal in his past six appearances in all competitions for Celtic, after scoring only twice in nine games for the club beforehand
  • Lazio have only won one of their past eight games in the Europa League (W1 D0 L7), failing to keep a clean sheet on each occasion
  • Celtic won away from home against Italian opposition in European competition for the first time, with this being their 13th attempt at doing so
  • Within the top five European leagues, only Robert Lewandowski (21) has scored more goals across all competitions than Lazio's Immobile (15) this season.



Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Strakosha
  • 3Ramos Marchi
  • 93VavroSubstituted forBerishaat 82'minutes
  • 33Acerbi
  • 29Lazzari
  • 16Parolo
  • 6LeivaSubstituted forRomero Alconchelat 58'minutes
  • 21Milinkovic-Savic
  • 22Rodríguez MenéndezSubstituted forLulicat 58'minutes
  • 20CaicedoBooked at 42mins
  • 17Immobile


  • 4Gabarrón Gil
  • 7Berisha
  • 10Romero Alconchel
  • 15Jacinto Quissanga
  • 19Lulic
  • 23Guerrieri
  • 34Adekanye


Formation 5-3-2

  • 67Forster
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forBauerat 89'minutes
  • 33ElhamedSubstituted forBittonat 83'minutes
  • 2Jullien
  • 35Ajer
  • 15Hayes
  • 17ChristieSubstituted forNtchamat 77'minutes
  • 8BrownBooked at 51mins
  • 42McGregor
  • 22Edouard
  • 27Elyounoussi


  • 1Gordon
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Bitton
  • 11Sinclair
  • 13Bauer
  • 16Morgan
  • 21Ntcham
Tobias Stieler

Match Stats

Home TeamLazioAway TeamCeltic
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Lazio 1, Celtic 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Lazio 1, Celtic 2.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Lazio 1, Celtic 2. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Odsonne Edouard.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Luiz Felipe.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Fraser Forster.

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Senad Lulic with a cross.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Moritz Bauer replaces James Forrest.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Luis Alberto (Lazio) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

  10. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Jonny Hayes.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Felipe Caicedo (Lazio) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Valon Berisha.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Valon Berisha (Lazio) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Francesco Acerbi (Lazio).

  15. Post update

    Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Nir Bitton replaces Hatem Elhamed.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Lazio. Valon Berisha replaces Denis Vavro.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Luiz Felipe (Lazio).

  20. Post update

    Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.


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