Celtic ease into Champions League second qualifying round

Published July 19, 2019
GLASGOW: FK Sarajevo’s Benjamin Tatar (L) and James Forrest of Celtic vie for the ball during their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round second leg at Celtic Park.—AP
GLASGOW: FK Sarajevo’s Benjamin Tatar (L) and James Forrest of Celtic vie for the ball during their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round second leg at Celtic Park.—AP

GLASGOW: Celtic cruised through to the second qualifying round of the Champions League after a 2-1 win over Sarajevo saw them progress 5-2 on aggregate.

Neil Lennon’s 1967 European Cup winners had few problems navigating the tie after winning the first leg 3-1 in Bosnia, and goals from Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor in each half ensured smooth passage into the next round.

The Scottish champions were comfortable from the off and Christie killed any hope of a shock comeback when he opened scoring in the 26th minute.

They conceded a poor goal just after the hour mark minute when Benjamin Tatar pounced on a mistake from debutant Boli Bolingoli, but with 15 minutes remaining Lewis Morgan found McGregor in space jut outside the penalty area and the midfielder fired home to seal the win on the night.

A positive evening for Celtic was made better by Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths returning for his first competitive match since December after taking time away from the game for personal problems and they will next play Nomme Kalju of Estonia.

Elsewhere, Sutjeska of Montenegro scored deep into stoppage time to level the aggregate score at 2-2 against Slovan Bratislava and force extra time, then later won a penalty shootout 3-2. Goalkeeper Vladan Giljen saved two spot kicks from the visiting Slovakian side.

With two goals in the final 10 minutes, BATE Borisov of Belarus won 2-1 at Piast Gliwice of Poland to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Romania’s CFR Cluj rallied from a 2-0 aggregate deficit against Astana to win 3-1 on the night and 3-2 overall.

Dundalk of Ireland won a penalty shootout 5-4 at Riga after two goalless games.

Also advancing were Ferencvaros of Hungary, Slovenia’s Maribor, AIK of Sweden, Qarabag of Azerbaijan, and Norway’s Rosenborg.

On Tuesday, former European champions Red Star Belgrade reached the second qualifying round by beating Suduva of Lithuania 2-1.

Red Star, the 1991 European Cup winners, also won 2-1 on aggregate by defending a two-goal lead with 10 men after defender Marko Gobeljic was sent off in the 60th minute.

Feronikeli failed to become the first Kosovan team to advance past the first qualifying round, losing 1-0 at home to The New Saints of Wales to go out 3-2 on aggregate.

In their European debut, Saburtalo Tbilisi advanced despite losing the second leg 3-1 at home against Sheriff Tiraspol.

Other teams advancing were HJK Helsinki — who next play Red Star — and Malta’s Valletta.

The second qualifying round will be played July 23-24 and 30-31.

Before those games, UEFA makes pairings for the third qualifying round Monday when teams including Ajax, semi-finalists last season, FC Porto and Dynamo Kiev enter the draw.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2019

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