Last night Celtic qualified for the group stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2009, with a 4-0 over Swedish champions Helsinborgs. Neil Lennon’s side already had a 2-0 lead ahead of the match at Parkhead, and the Scottish Champions record at home had been superb in recent times.
The match started slowly and both teams looked un-prepared for this fixture, but in the 15th minute the game burst into life. First Georgios Samaras was threw on goal, but hit his shot right at the Helsinborgs keeper. The next chance was Celtic’s best chance of an opener. Celtic had strong penalty claims waved away by the referee, when James Forrest had been tripped by the Helsingborg defender in the box. Moments later however that chance didn’t matter, Celtic got their reward for their constant pressure. Striker Kris Commons slotted into the net after been teed up by Samaras.
The Scots went into the break in the lead and deservedly so. The teams came out from the half-time break, the teams looked rejuvenated, and unlike the first half the chances were flowing from the start of the game. It only took minutes before Fraser Foster was called into action. First tipping a 25 yard free-kick round the post and then blocking a low shot from the opposition’s strikers.
Celtic started to look tired, but the introduction to Tony Watt seemed to have an instant impact. First he had a shot tipped over from the Helsinborg keeper; next he was unlucky not to add a second for Celtic, with a low driving effort.
It all went Celtic’s way after that and they then had the ball in the back of the net, but Gary Hooper had been adjudged to be offside, after a shot from Kris Commons had deflected off the crossbar and fell to the Englishman’s feet.
Celtic looked like they were going to be 3-0 aggregate winners, but Victor Wanyama had different ideas. The midfielder headed in a cross from Celtic’s earlier goal scorer Kris Commons to give the Scottish champions a 4-0 win on aggregate.
The Scots will now have to wait until later today for the eagerly anticipated Champions League draw is made, as they look to prepare for their next game on Saturday against Hibernian.
Can Celtic Make the knockout stages?
If Celtic put in performances like they did last night, then they can beat most teams, remembering though that they are not world beaters and can’t be compared to Bayern Munich or Barcelona. They also have young talent to fall back on, with Tony Watt looking a good prospect for the Scottish Champions. All Celtic need is a reasonable draw, performances like these and a bit of luck, and if they manage this, we may see their name in the knockout stages of the competition.