Early Doors

Confusion as Celtic play it safe in fear of repeating Legia howler

Early Doors

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Barely a fortnight after profiting from an administration blunder, Celtic made one of their own as defender Efe Ambrose was left behind in Glasgow while the rest of the squad flew out to Slovenia for the Champions League play-off with Maribor.

The Nigeria defender was sent off for a 'last man' challenge in the 4-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw in Poland and sat out the second-leg of the third qualifier at Murrayfield.

But, although the Scottish champions lost 6-1 on aggregate, their opponents were effectively drummed out by UEFA for fielding an ineligible player. So the game in Edinburgh was forfeited in favour of a 3-0 Hoops win, which took them through to the play-off on away goals with a 4-4 draw.


Because that match was rubbed out, Celtic believed Ambrose had yet to serve his ban and would do so in the first-leg in Slovenia.

Therefore, Ambrose did not travel with the Hoops party which left Glasgow airport on Tuesday morning.

However, on speaking to UEFA, it transpired that Ambrose is indeed eligible to play, with European football's governing body deciding that his presence on the pitch counted in the forfeited match.

The good news for Celtic is that they travelled 24 hours before the match - so Ambrose will fly out and join them on Wednesday.

"He didn't travel today, he is coming tomorrow morning," Hoops boss Ronny Deila said.

"In the beginning there were some communication problems, if he was ready or not. We didn't think he was ready because he got two matches but in the end it was one match.

"So he is coming now and I am very happy because we need defenders."

Not everyone agreed that it was a good thing though - Ambrose is notoriously error-prone in the big games...


It's certainly an odd one. Given the match was declared forfeit, it seems slightly peculiar that Celtic are allowed to profit twice – one rule allowing them to progress, another ensuring their suspended players are available.

It’s been a fruitful fortnight for Celtic. And if Ambrose plays an influential role against Maribor, then Legia will have every reason to feel even more aggrieved.

PA Sport/Eurosport

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