LONDON (AP):Seven-time champions AC Milan avoided another early-season hiccup by reaching the group stage of the Champions League with a 3-0 win over PSV Eindhoven, and Celtic produced a stunning comeback to join them yesterday.
After a 1-1 draw in a tense first leg in the Netherlands, Kevin-Prince Boateng scored twice and Mario Balotelli added another to ensure Milan won the play-off 4-1 on aggregate and advanced to today's draw.
At Glasgow, Celtic beat Shakhter Karagandy 3-0 to overcome a 2-0 loss in the first leg. James Forrest's stoppage-time goal gave the Scottish champions a 3-2 win on aggregate. Real Sociedad and Zenit St Petersburg also advanced along with Plzen, which progressed after beating Maribor 4-1 on aggregate.
Milan, which had a surprise 2-1 defeat to promoted Hellas Verona last weekend in their Serie A opener, qualified for the group stage for the 11th time in 12 seasons, and 17th overall.
HOME TEAM AHEAD
Boateng unleashed a shot from outside the box into the left-hand corner to put the home team ahead in the ninth minute. Stephan El Shaarawy then came close but saw his shot hit the crossbar.
Balotelli scored his 13th goal for AC Milan, since his move from Manchester City, with a volley from close range in the 55th after Philippe Mexes flicked on a corner from the right.
"We're happy. We played a great match. We also played well in the first leg," said Balotelli, who could not play for Milan in the Champions League last season after a January transfer. "It's the Champions League and it means a lot to us to do well."
Boateng scored his second goal of the evening after collecting the ball on the left side of the box and firing a shot into the far corner in the 77th.
Celtic will play in the group stage for the eighth time after Neil Lennon's team produced one of their trademark comebacks. Celtic erased the first-leg deficit with goals from Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras on either side of half-time before Forrest sealed the home team win from Anthony Stokes' cross.
"It's the best feeling ever - we are in the Champions League, where we should be," Forrest said. "We've done it in 90 minutes and that is what we wanted."