x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Celtic in Champions League driving seat after victory in Sweden

The Scottish side moved closer to the Champions League group stage with a 2-0 win over Helsingborgs - but manager Neil Lennon warned his players qualification is not yet guaranteed.

Celtic midfielder Kris Commons celebrates his opening goal against Helsingborg with teammates
Celtic midfielder Kris Commons celebrates his opening goal against Helsingborg with teammates

HELSINGBORG, SWEDEN // Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, insists he will take nothing for granted despite his side taking a large step towards qualifying for the Champions League group stage.

The Scottish champions recorded a 2-0 win in Sweden in the first leg of their play-off against Helsingborgs, and weathered an attempted fightback from the hosts to put themselves in poll position for next week's return fixture.

But afterwards, Lennon warned: "There is still a lot to play for in the tie as far as I am concerned.

"I don't think it's over although our home record is very, very good.

"There was enough there to worry me as Helsingborg were very impressive.

"But in the end we hit the bar twice and, on the counter-attack, we could have put the tie well out of sight."

Kris Commons volleyed the Scottish side into the lead with less than two minutes on the clock following a cross from Georgios Samaras.

Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a series of saves as the Swedish champions fought back but in the 75th minute Samaras put Celtic in the driving seat for next week's second leg in Glasgow when he headed in a Commons corner.

Helsingborgs coach Age Hareide was defiant in defeat and said Celtic could be overconfident because of their 2-0 advantage.

"It is possible (to recover) because I think Celtic will think it is over, that they are ready for the group stages and that is a good thing for us," the former Norway boss said.

"Even if they say they are not, in their minds they will be thinking it is enough and they won't lose 2-0 at home.

"If it was 3-0 it would have been over but not 2-0."

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