Celtic, Zenit St. Petersburg, Olympique Lyon, PSV Eindhoven, FC Basel were among the victors this week, heading into their second legs into seven days time with the advantage.
All the talk before this game was whether or not Celtic loanee Mohammed Bangura should be allowed to play as Elsborg visited Parkhead. In the end it didn’t matter as Celtic ground out a 1-0 win in a eagerly fought contest. Kris Commons gave Celtic the win with a header from a cross the left hand side from a quick short corner from Celtic. Other if you are into route one scrappy physical contests this was the game for you.
Celtic started quickly getting out the blocks from the kick off route one ball won in the air by Samaras against the almost faultless Elfsborg centre backs the ball fell to the onrushing Stokes into the area and his shot was fired into the side netting. Celtic and Elfsborg came close to taking the lead with both side hitting the bar – first James Forrest for Celtic from a tight angle his shot clipped the underside of the bar and with a little more luck would have given Celtic a lead which on the first half display neither team deserved. Anders Svensson for the Swedes the ball was knocked up to Bangura bounced around the box and it fell at the feet of the ex-Wigan midfielder his thunderbolt of a shot had the beat of Forster in the Celtic goal but as Forrest experienced at the other end his effort found its way onto the woodwork. Efe Ambrose could have also scored missing a free header six yards from goal but the Nigerian managed to head over when it looked inevitable he would hit the back of Ellegard’s net.
Bangura who was whistled and jeered worked hard upfront on his own yet, only had one shot which was easy pickings for Forster. In the second half Celtic begun on the front foot and that’s pretty much how it stayed throughout, with Samaras coming close and well denied by Ellegaard seconds after the restart, Commons was then booked for a silly dive just outside the area not long after as Celtic began to get frustrated. The goal arrived with 15 minutes left Commons ghosted in between the Elfsborg right back and centre half to glance the header past Ellegard. After that a succession of Celtic corners followed, but like all night nothing came of them.
The match wasn’t one for the football purists among us for the most part it was very cagey and lacked any real quality. Both sides will be reasonably happy Celtic able to take a one goal advantage over to Sweden for the second leg and Elfsborg who are still well in this tie. All to play for next week.
Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven fielded a young side that blew Zulte Waregem away but should have notched a lot more than the two goals they managed. A tremendous performance from 17-year-old Zakaria Bakkali and goals from Memphis Depay and Jurgen Locadia (both aged 19) meant the bumper crowd inside the Phillips Stadion went home happy.
Ligue 1 side Lyon gained a narrow 1-0 advantage at home to Swiss side Grasshopper Zurich, thanks to a goal from Serbian defender Milan Biševac.
Zenit St. Petersburg head into next week home leg with Danish side FC Nordsjaelland with a 1-0 lead. Brazilian powerhouse Hulk assisted Russian veteran striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov in getting the only goal of the game.
TUESDAY 30TH JULY 2013
FC Shakhtyor Karaganda 3-0 Skenderbeu
Austria Vienna 1-0 FH Hafnarfjordur
Dinamo Tbilisi 0-2 Steaua Bucharest
Nomme Kalju 0-4 FC Viktoria Plzeň
FC Basel 1-0 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Nordsjaelland 0-1 Zenit St Petersburg
PAOK Salonika 0-2 Metalist Kharkiv
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Sheriff Tiraspol
PSV 2-0 Zulte-Waregem
Lyon 1-0 Grasshoppers
WEDNESDAY 31ST JULY 2013
APOEL Nicosia 1-1 NK Maribor
Celtic 1-0 Elfsborg
Molde 1-1 Legia Warsaw
Ludogorets 2-1 Partizan Belgrade
Red Bull Salzburg 1-1 Fenerbahçe