Celtic cruise to Champions League win
Goals from Mikael Lustig, Georgios Samaras and James Forrest gave Celtic a comfortable 3-0 win over Cliftonville and ensured there is little chance of an upset when the part-time Irish side travel to Parkhead next week for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifier.
It had promised to be a nervy night for the visitors, who had lost all four of their pre-season games and who had a clutch of players missing for various reasons.
However, Neil Lennon's side, especially in the first 45 minutes, showed the professionalism and purpose which had taken them to the last-16 of the tournament last season.
Full-back Lustig gave the Scottish champions the lead at Solitude in the 25th minute when he broke away from the Reds defence at the near post to head in a Kris Commons corner.
Six minutes later Greek forward Samaras, who had revealed his aversion for the ground's artificial pitch before the game, finished off a move involving Forrest and Commons by turning at the edge of the box and driving an unstoppable shot past Reds keeper Conor Devlin.
And in a one-sided first-half, watched by almost 5,000 enthusiastic fans who had packed into the tiny ground in north Belfast, Commons also hit the woodwork twice.
With nothing to lose, Tommy Breslin's side rallied in the second half with Stephen Garrett missing a good chance in the 48th minute from close range after Lustig was short with a headed backpass.
Anthony Stokes hit the bar for Celtic with a drive before he set up Forrest in the 84th minute to hammer the ball low past Devlin from inside the box to make the return game in Glasgow a formality.
Celtic started the game with impressive purpose. Commons hit the bar with a header after two minutes when Forrest stood a cross up for the former Derby and Nottingham Forest player at the back post.
The home side, for all their obvious determination in the early stages, could not make much headway. The Hoops were in control and in the 12th minute Samaras headed an Emilio Izaguirre cross over from eight yards.
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