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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 15 October, 2019
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Celtic's Champions League dreams burn bright after Swede victory

Goals from Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras put The Bhoys in a great position to advance to the group stages.

Kris Commons celebrates with his Celtic teammates.
Kris Commons celebrates with his Celtic teammates.
Image: Trevor Martin/PA Wire

GLASGOW CELTIC’S HOPES of reaching the group stages of the Champions League this season received a massive boost on Tuesday after a fine 2-0 win away to Helsingsborg.

Kris Commons got Neil Lennon’s men off to a perfect start when he found the net after only two minutes and Georgios Samaras doubled the lead with 15 minutes to play.

The Scottish champions will take the two-goal advantage back to Celtic Park next week.

Lennon welcomed back Scott Brown, Gary Hooper and Thomas Rogne after the trio missed Saturday’s league match against Ross County.

Samaras was the creator in the early stages as he sent in a cross that Commons met with a first-time volley to stun the home fans.

Playing with confidence

The goal gave Celtic the freedom and confidence to pass the ball around and pick holes in an advancing Helsingsborg midfield.

Samaras came close with a first-half header but The Bhoys were indebted to Fraser Forster in goal as the ‘keeper thwarted at least four clear scoring chances.

James Forrest was brought on in the second-half to inject a bit of pace to the Celtic attack. The midfielder presented Joe Ledley with a fantastic opening but the former Cardiff man saw his header crash off the crossbar.

The visitors were not to be denied, however, and a Commons corner was headed home by Samaras to provide a cushion ahead of next week’ return leg.

Celtic’s city neighbours, Rangers, were 1-0 winners over Flakirk in the Ramsdens Cup on Tuesday thanks to an Andy Little goal.

The quarter-final draw is on Wednesday afternoon with sides such as East Stirlingshire and Stenhousemuir lying in wait.

As for Celtic, they can dream of dates with Barcelona and Ac Milan in the Champions League group stages. The reality is almost upon them.

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Patrick McCarry

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