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Celtic through after stalemate

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07 Aug 2013 23:16:57

Celtic through after stalemate

Celtic booked their place in the Champions League play-offs as a goalless draw against Elfsborg in Boras gave Neil Lennon's men a slender aggregate win.

The Hoops travelled to Sweden for the second leg of their third qualifying round with a Kris Commons goal to defend, and while it was not a great display from manager Lennon's team they did enough to get through the tie.

On the Swedish club's artificial surface, both teams had chances in an opening 45 minutes with Elfsborg's on-loan striker, Mo Bangura, missing a sitter against his parent club.

By comparison the second half was dour, and while the final stages were tense the Scottish champions remained solid to the end.

The draw for the play-off takes place on Friday, with the Parkhead club a step closer to the lucrative group stages of the competition from which they emerged last season to reach the last 16 of the competition.

Much of the speculation before the game centred on Hoops defender Kelvin Wilson with it being reported he would play his last game for Celtic before returning to Nottingham Forest, and Lennon confirmed after the final whistle that he looks set to depart.

The Englishman shrugged off shin splint problems to take his place in the Celtic rearguard as forward Georgios Samaras also came back into the side after recovering from a toe injury, leaving no place for Anthony Stokes.

Bangura had recovered from a leg knock and in the sixth minute, from a Stefan Ishizaki cross, he went close with a spectacular overhead kick from just inside the box, the ball sliding just past Fraser Forster's left-hand post.

The erratic striker from Sierre Leone had a great chance in the 28th minute when Ishizaki swung in another fine cross from wide on the right. Bangura slipped away from Celtic defender Efe Ambrose easily enough but his header from 10 yards lacked conviction as it looped over the bar.

Between those chances, however, the Scottish champions could have twice taken the lead and probably killed off the home side.


PA

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