Celtic fight back to beat Lazio

Glasgow (AFP) –


Christopher Julien's header a minute from time handed Celtic a vital 2-1 victory over Lazio as the Scottish champions took a huge step towards the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Italians took the lead five minutes before half-time when Manuel Lazzari fired in from a narrow angle.

Celtic levelled midway through the second half when Ryan Christie turned home Odsonne Edouard's pass before Christie turned provider for centre-back Julien to nod home the winner.

Victory takes Neil Lennon's men to the top of Group E with seven points from their first three games.

Romanian champions Cluj beat Rennes 1-0 in France in the other game in the group to move onto six points with Lazio now down to third, three points further back.

Celtic struggled to create against the well-organised Italians in a first 45 minutes short on chances.

Christie also came closest to scoring for the hosts before the break with a fiercely struck shot that came back off the outside of the post.

However, one piece of slack defending cost Celtic as Joaquin Correa freed Lazzari down the right and the Italian international's shot had too much power for Fraser Forster.

Celtic were nearly gifted a route back into the game after the break when former Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva's passback was pounced on by Edouard but after his backheel found Christie, the midfielder's goalbound shot was blocked.

Correa should have put Lazio out of sight when he burst through on goal but hit the base of the post to give Celtic life and the Scottish champions took full advantage two minutes later.

Edouard and Christie combined once more and this time the Scottish international's strike had the power and accuracy to beat Thomas Strakosha.

Lazio seemed the side more likely to take all three points in the latter stages as Forster redeemed himself with a brilliant save from Marco Parolo at point-blank range.

Simone Inzaghi then sent on Serie A's top scorer Ciro Immobile for the final 17 minutes and he also missed a huge chance before Celtic took the lead when Julien rose unmarked to head home Christie's corner.

Celtic were still grateful to another stunning save from Forster five minutes into stoppage time to deny Danilo Cataldi's sweetly struck volley.