He somehow clawed away an awkward Azat Nurgaliyev chip after another Ambrose error, parried a ferocious 40-yard Twumasi drive, touched a dipping Nurgaliyev shot on to the crossbar and kept out a Kabananga effort with his legs.

Agim Ibraimi (FC Astana) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Looking to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2013, they found the Kazakhs tough opposition.

The official owner of the club, which was only formed six years ago, is the country’s super-rich sovereign wealth fund, known as Samuryq-Qazyna.

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Samuryq-Qazyna’s head is Omirzaq Shukeev, a former deputy prime minister and economics adviser to president Nursultan Nazarbayev. The club is also a member of Nazarbayev’s Astana Presidential Sports Club, created in 2012 to provide financial support for several sports teams that compete on the international stage.

When Benfica make the 3,800-mile journey to Kazakhstan as part of the group stage of this season’s Champions League they will be taking on the remotest and smallest team in the competition – and also one of the richest.

Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Although there were several further scares for the small travelling support, the majority of Astana's opportunities came from distance, with Craig Gordon looking assured.

Nazarbayev congratulated the team after the Apoel match, and noted that “Astana will now have soccer battles with the world brands”.

The short history of the club already boasts two league titles, two Kazakhstan Cups and two Kazakhstan Super Cups. In 2015, Astana qualified to the UEFA Champions League group stage, becoming the first Kazakh team to do so.

Such an outcome had looked unlikely as a makeshift Celtic defence had to deal with a barrage of Astana chances.

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But the striker, whose 40 goals last year earned him multiple awards and medals, showed his worth with a fantastic equaliser.

With barely a glance up, Griffiths rifled the ball past Nenad Eric to change the complexion of the tie.

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The Scotland international again produced save after save to help ensure Celtic are in the driving seat going into next week's second leg.

A version of this article first appeared on RFE/RL

Like many things in Kazakhstan the club was created and is owned by the state, and is part of a campaign to promote the country’s newly minted, remote, and rather unknown capital city: Astana.

But after heavy Astana pressure, Leigh Griffiths struck a potentially crucial away goal on 78 minutes.

Samuryq-Qazyna’s extensive holdings, estimated to be worth about €66.5bn, technically make FC Astana one of the richest teams in the Champions League. Although a direct comparison is difficult, Forbes places Real Madrid’s net worth at €30bn and Barcelona’s at €2.8bn. The fund’s deep pockets have already paid for a 30,000-seater stadium, the Astana Arena, costing €164m to construct and a squad valued at €14.5m.

Griffiths had scarcely been involved in the match, his partnership with Moussa Dembele failing to gel.

The reward, along with facing former champions Benfica, are matches again the Spanish giants Atlético Madrid and Turkish club Galatasaray.

Astana EXPO-2017 is planning to organize the following services at the EXPO area: pay services, pharmacy stores, excursions, tours throughout Kazakhstan, entertainment area, printshop, production and installation services, rental of office equipment, services, photo and video filming and editing, car rental, translation and interpreting services, tailoring, legal, consulting (accounting) and many other services.

First central Asian team to compete in Champions League group stage is owned and financed by Kazakh government. RFE/RL reports

Kazakh officials are no doubt hoping that FC Astana will reap similar PR benefits when they play against some of the sports top teams in the Champions League, one of the most-watched sports competitions in the world.

Nomads no more, Kazakhs celebrate their footloose heritage at events like this cultural festival in Astana, where young women soar on a swing while others wander amid yurts, music performances, and vendors of fermented mare's milk.

Ambrose was fortunate not to see a lapse of concentration punished as he missed a Patrick Twumasi cross altogether, with Junior Kabananga inches away from connecting and Mikael Lustig nervously knocking the ball clear.

Those interventions could prove vital as Celtic aim for a win in Glasgow next week to reach the Champions League play-off stage.

All seven of the club’s members have Astana in their name, and several feature the powder blue and yellow colours of the Kazakh flag.

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Most football teams in Europe would consider the millions of euros in earnings to be the biggest benefit of playing in the Champions League, but that’s not the case for FC Astana.

Darhan Kaletaev, FC Astana’s chairman, was quick to thank the godfather of the Astana sporting enterprise. “This victory was achieved thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff, the football-loving people of Astana, and the support of the president of Kazakhstan,” he said.

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Astana

The following managers won at least one trophy when in charge of Astana:

Kazakhstan's new capital is the opposite of understated. After dark, government buildings change hues as the night progresses, creating a theme park atmosphere. The presidential palace suggests a gaudy version of the White House. Prize-winning British architect Norman Foster is one of many foreigners who helped shape the city. His purple Khan Shatyr shopping mall has an indoor sand beach and wave pool on the top floor.

Though still haunted by doping suspicions, the Astana team is an established part of international cycling, and their presence at elite events has brought incalculable amounts of – mostly positive – publicity to the Astana brand, the real goal of the club’s financial backers.

In Brendan Rodgers' third competitive game in charge, they fell behind to a Yuri Logvinenko header.

Best-known among them is the Astana cycling team, home to some of the world’s best racing talent including Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru and, for a short period before the doping allegations caught up with him, Lance Armstrong.

Goal! FC Astana 1, Celtic 0. Yuri Logvinenko (FC Astana) header from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Patrick Twumasi following a corner.