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  • Celtic's Champions League journey continues with win over Sarajevo

    Celtic's Champions League journey continues with win over Sarajevo

    By: Tony Connelly on 17 Jul, 2019 21:39

  • UEFA Champions League
    First Qualifying Round, Second Leg
    Wednesday, July 17, 2019
    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…2
    (Christie 25, McGregor 76)

    FK SARAJEVO…1
    (Tatar 63)

    Celtic win 5-2 on aggregate

    CELTIC progressed to the second round of Champions League qualification with a 2-1 win over FK Sarajevo. Neil Lennon’s side marked their first competitive game of the season at Paradise with a dominant win in the second leg that saw the Hoops win the tie 5-2 on aggregate.

    Ryan Christie fired Celtic ahead in the first half with an instinctive finish inside the box. Sarajevo drew level after the break but Callum McGregor restored Celtic’s lead with the winning goal 15 minutes from the end.

    Celtic started brightly, moving the ball well in the final third and creating a couple of early chances. The first was an ambitious effort from Ryan Christie but the midfielder’s long-range shot from a set-piece deflected out for a corner.

    McGregor tried to test the keeper a minute later with a low, driven shot from the edge of the 'D' that flew a yard wide of the post.

    Sarajevo struggled to deal with Celtic’s tempo and they were never allowed to settle into the game. Their attempts to gain a footing were made all the more difficult by the home side’s dominance in possession which yielded more chances in front of goal.

    James Forrest nearly got the Bhoys off the mark when he worked some space for himself inside the box with a burst of pace and shot across goal, but his attempt was blocked.

    Neil Lennon made a tactical change midway through the first-half, switching Forrest out to the left and Morgan onto the right flank. Both wingers were lively and continued to overcome Sarajevo’s full-backs with relative ease.

    The goal came through the middle, though, and was initiated by Odsonne Edouard. The French forward dribbled his way into the box before steering the ball to Christie. He took a touch and lifted the ball into the top corner from the edge of the six-yard box.

    Celtic maintained their relentless pressure on the Bosnian champions for the rest of the first half as they went in search of a second. That nearly came when McGregor initiated a quick break after winning the ball in the middle of the park. He passed to Christie who released Edouard. The 21-year-old forced a good save from the keeper when he cut inside and shot from the edge of the area.

    Some impressive individual play from Morgan out on the right helped create the final attempt of the first period. The Hoops winger got away from his man by the corner flag, dashed across the box and passed to Scott Brown. He teed the ball up for Boli Bolingoli, but the Belgian’s drilled shot across goal flashed the wrong side of the post.

    The half-time break did nothing to disrupt Celtic’s rhythm and the Scottish champions immediately set about their opponents following the restart. The first chance came from a Jozo Simunovic header which was comfortably saved.

    Bolingoli passed up a golden opportunity to score his debut goal when he got away from Mirko Oremus inside the box with quick turn near the byline. He had sight of goal, albeit from a tight angle, but he steered his shot wide from close-range.

    Sarajevo, as they did last week in Bosnia, stole a goal against the run of play. A headed ball fell to Benjamin Tatar inside the Celtic penalty area and the Bosnian produced a good left-foot finish.

    Celtic were determined to restore their lead and pilled the pressure on Sarajevo. Forrest was denied what would have been a wonderful goal when he tore towards goal, cut inside and tried to curl a shot into the bottom far corner.

    McGregor had been excellent in midfield all evening and he capped off a fine performance with the winning goal. His movement off the ball earned him enough time and space on the edge of the penalty area to take a touch and fire a powerful left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

    More chances followed as the final whistle approached. A run down the left from Bolingoli ended with a good cross from the Belgian. Morgan collected on the corner of the box but was unable to keep his half volleyed effort down.

    Celtic now progress to the second qualifying round of the Champions League where they will face Estonian champions Nomme Kalju. The first leg will take place at Celtic Park next Wednesday, July 24 at 7:45pm, with the away fixture scheduled for Tuesday, July 30.

    CELTIC: Bain; Ajer, Bitton, Simunovic, Bolingoli; Brown, McGregor, Christie (Henderson 88), Forrest, Morgan (Sinclair 86); Edouard (Griffiths 79)
    Subs: Gordon Jullien, Ralston, Hayes

    FK SARAJEVO: Kovacevic; Hodzic, Lazic, Hebibovic, Ahmetovic, Rahmanovic (Guzina 82), Velkoski, Milanovic (Sisic 58), Serbecic, Tatar (Dokanovic 71), Oremus
    Subs: Dizdarevic, Sabanovic, Kurdic, Handzic

    Website Man of the Match: Callum McGregor

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