Centurion Leigh Griffiths stars for Celtic as Brendan Rodgers' side progress

Leigh Griffiths scored his 100th goal for Celtic as they beat Suduva 3-0 in the play-off second leg to book their place in the group stage of the Europa League.

Centurion Leigh Griffiths stars for Celtic as Brendan Rodgers' side progress

By Ronnie Esplin

Leigh Griffiths scored his 100th goal for Celtic as they beat Suduva 3-0 in the play-off second leg to book their place in the group stage of the Europa League.

Boss Brendan Rodgers was disappointed with his side’s performance in the 1-1 draw in the first leg in Lithuania last Thursday but his players responded with a convincing victory at Parkhead last night.

The win was set up in the 27th minute when the Scotland striker curled in a textbook free-kick from 25 yards to reach his century.

Midfielder Callum McGregor added a second seven minutes after the break before defender Kristoffer Ajer headed in his first goal for Celtic just after the hour mark to complete a comprehensive 4-1 aggregate win.

Celtic’s Old Firm rivals Rangers - who they face in the Scottish Premiership this weekend — were made to do it the hard way as they survived two red cards to claim a place in the group stages following a 1-1 draw at Russia side FC Ufa.

It appeared to be going all so smoothly for Steven Gerrard’s Light Blues when Ovie Ejaria curled home a precious away goal after just 10 minutes.

But Dmitri Sysuev’s equaliser gave the Russians hope before Alfredo Morelos’ moment of madness put Rangers under the cosh.

The Colombian was sent off after collecting two quick-fire bookings and was followed down the tunnel by Jon Flanagan when the defender was also dismissed after the break.

But try as the hosts might, Gers refused to buckle and got the result which secured a 2-1 aggregate triumph and qualification to the main phase of a European competition for the first time since 2010.

I’m sure Jon and Alfredo will apologise to their team-mates but in terms of the nine men who were there from start to finish, I haven’t got words to describe them,” said a delighted Gerrard.

Burnley’s hopes of making the Europa League group stage came to an end as a 1-1 draw with Olympiakos at Turf Moor in their qualifying play-off second leg saw them lose the tie 4-2 on aggregate.

Knowing a 2-0 win on the night would be enough to send them through, Sean Dyche’s Clarets created some great chances in the first half but were unable to take them, with Sam Vokes sending one header wide and another over.

Ashley Barnes then struck narrowly wide, Vokes sent a curling effort against a post early in the second half and teenager Dwight McNeil brought a good save out of Andreas Gianniotis.

Olympiakos subsequently snatched a goal in the 83rd minute through Daniel Podence before substitute Matej Vydra, making his Burnley debut, replied with a close-range finish three minutes later.

While there was certainly encouragement to be taken from the performance, there will also surely be feelings of frustration on Burnley’s part as their first taste of European football since 1966-67 concluded after three two-legged qualifying ties.

The Europa League draw takes place in Monaco today.

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