FC Astana v Celtic
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport

There's one final hurdle standing between Scottish rulers Celtic and the riches of the Champions League proper - Kazakhstan top-flight winners FC Astana this evening, in the first leg of a final qualifying tie.
Brendan Rodgers' side were frighteningly good last season, winning a domestic treble, going through the Premiership season unbeaten and making real progress in the Champions League. The early signs suggest they are a better outfit this year.

Fans will certainly hope so, but to have any chance of building on that success they must match the efforts of August 2016 when beating Astana over two legs in this very competition. A 1-1 first leg tie on the road gave a solid footing, finishing the job a week later in Glasgow thanks to a 2-1 cheer.
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths was on target in each leg, including the first goal of a bad-tempered match at Parkhead that saw the beaten side lose two men. Dmitriy Shomko and Igor Shitov were shown red cards at the death, amid ugly scenes.
Griffiths gave The Bhoys a boost when declaring himself fully fit and looking forward to Wednesday evening's challenge. The 26-year-old Scot had been nursing a calf injury all summer but has been pushed into action, with fellow hitman Moussa Dembele out until at least next month. Leigh has more than filled the void, scoring a double against both Hearts and Kilmarnock this month.
Griffiths to net first vs Astana has been chalked up as a 14/5 favourite with Betfair, while those looking for more of a safety net can try 8/11 about him scoring anytime during play. One for your midweek multiples, perhaps.
Both teams scored in each of the two matches involving Celtic and Astana last year, and the 11/8 currently being offered up by Betfair traders is a market best price at the time of writing. Sure to catch the attention of value hunters, while backers looking for their stake money to work a bit harder can get on both teams to score in a Celtic win at 29/10.
The Blue and Yellows may arrive in the UK as 17/2 no-hopers, but this game comes at the perfect time for the visitors as they seek a generous helping of revenge. Stanimir Stoilov's crew lead the Kazakh Premier League, having lost just two of their first 23 starts.

With Dembele's winning goal coming from the penalty spot on 90 minutes last time, knocking Astana out of the tournament, they'll feel they have unfinished business with Celtic and will aim to, at least, ensure this one is competitive going back to the tricky artificial surface of the Astana Arena. A scoring draw would be almost as good as a win for the visitors, and we're top price 15/4 on the even finish.
Recommended Bet
Both teams to score at 11/8

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