Scottish Champions Celtics’ name will be in Fridays Champions League Qualifying Play-off round due to them holding out for a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Elfsborg.
Pre-match all the attention was focused on Celtic player on loan to Elfsborg Mo Bangura after he received such a hostile reception from the home crowd last week.
Lennon decided to go for the more solid approach leaving out Anthony Stokes and Beram Kayal bringing in Charlie Mulgrew and Joe Ledley. In a 4-4-1-1 system with last week’s goal scorer Kris Commons playing just behind Samaras.
Bangura himself almost gave Elfsborg an early lead when he controlled an early cross on his chest before his overhead-kick that had the beating of Fraser Forster just went inches wide of the Englishman’s right hand upright. Celtic themselves had a glorious chance to put the tie out of site when Mikael Lustig somehow managed to keep the ball from going behind and get a wonderful cross onto the head of Samaras, the Greek headed over. Bangura had an even better chance to put the tie level before the break when the ball that escaped the head of Efe Ambrose landed perfectly for the Sierra Leone International somehow managed to head over the bar. Ledley had a long range effort just go wide before half-time as Commons’ low free-kick drive deflected away by Elfsborg landed at the Welshman’s left foot his shot thundered past Ellegaard’s goal as the half-time whistle sounded.
Elfsborg upped the pressure in the 2nd period a long throw causing confusion in the ropey Celtic defence as the ball came back off the upright, luckily for Celtic the Russian referee had already blown for a free-kick to the visitors- for offside. Celtic had a struggle to maintain any sort of possession as Elfsborg were on the attack trying to find that goal that would take the tie into extra-time. Celtic had a few break-aways on the counter attack but never forced Ellegaard into a meaningful save during the second period.
The home side had a very good claim for a penalty when Kelvin Wilson who may have played his last match for Celtic amidst speculation he will join former club Nottingham Forest, slid dangerously in on James Keene and on first viewing it didn’t look like he managed to take any of the ball. Keene was the recipient of the final chance for the hosts as he brung a lofted ball down and then lost his composure and volleyed it high and wide.
It was a tough night for Lennon and co but they saw it out, and could face one of; Austria Vienna (Austria), Maribor (Slovenia), Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria) and Legia Warsaw (Poland) respectively in the play-off round for a shot at the group stages for the second year running.
On Tuesday night, Swiss side FC Basel survived a great comeback by Maccabi Tel-Aviv to secure a 3-3 draw and qualification for the next stage due to their 1-0 first-leg victory. Basel looked to be home and dry after racing into a 3-0 lead in Tel Aviv, Fabian Schär, Mohamed Salah and Marcelo Díaz all netting inside the first 32 minutes but Murat Yakin’s men were made to sweat as Maccabi hit back. Urged on by the home crowd, the Isreali side got back into it through a Schär own goal, Eran Zahavi, and in the second half, Maharan Radi.
Another Swiss side fell as Ligue 1’s Lyon booked a place in Friday’s play-off draw after a patient performance earned them another 1-0 win against Grasshoppers Zurich. Very familiar with the competition despite a season’s absence, Rémi Garde’s side used all their experience to withstand great periods of pressure from the Swiss Superleague runners-up in Zurich. They then ensured a repeat of the first-leg scoreline as Clément Grenier’s well-taken finish with eight minutes remaining to seal the two goal aggregate win.
Zenit St Petersburg put five goals past Nordsjælland at the Stadion Petrovski to secure their place in Friday’s draw. Roman Shirokov scoring twice with Hulk, Danny and Andrey Arshavin adding to the tally as the Russians overwhelmed their Danish visitors.
Dutch Eredivisie PSV Eindhoven side strolled into Friday’s draw with a resounding 3-0 victory over Belgian side SV Zulte Waregem, 5-0 on aggregate. After a goal-less first-half, Philip Cocu’s men turned up the heat once Steve Colpaert saw red for handball on the line. Tim Matavz converted the penalty, a Zakaria Bakkali sublime volley and a Bruno Godeau own goal finished Zulte off.
Ukrainian Premier League side Metalist Kharkiv edged closer to their first appearance in the group stages with a 1-1 draw, to seal a 3-1 aggregate victory against Greek side PAOK. Ahead in the tie thanks to two Marko Dević strikes in the first leg, the hosts were content to soak up pressure for long periods. Any nerves were finally settled by Sebastián Blanco’s 72nd-minute goal, which meant Tomáš Necid’s late reply was little more than a consolation for PAOK.
Dinamo Zagreb dumped Moldova’s FC Sheriff out of qualifying for the second consecutive year. Krunoslav Jurčić’s men could not quite match their 5-0 aggregate win over Sheriff at the same stage last season but that will not concern them in the slightest after goals from Junior Fernándes, Hilal Soudani and Duje Čop in Tiraspol completed a 4-0 success over two legs.
TUESDAY 7TH AUGUST 2013
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 3-3 FC Basel (3-4 on agg)
Steaua Bucharest 1-1 Dinamo Tbilisi (3-1 on agg)
NK Maribor 0-0 APOEL Nicosia (1-1 on agg – Maribor win on away goals rule)
Skenderbeu 3-2 FC Shakhtyor Karaganda (3-5 on agg)
Fenerbahçe 3-1 Red Bull Salzburg (4-2 on agg)
Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Ludogorets (1-3 on agg)
Grasshoppers Zurich 0-1 Lyon (0-2 on agg)
WEDNESDAY 8TH AUGUST 2013
FH Hafnarfjordur 0-0 Austria Vienna (0-1 on agg)
FC Viktoria Plzeň 6-2 Nomme Kalju (10-2 on agg)
Zenit St Petersburg 5-0 Nordsjaelland (6-0 on agg)
Metalist Kharkiv 1-1 PAOK Salonika (3-1 on agg)
Sheriff Tiraspol 0-3 Dinamo Zagreb (0-4 on agg)
Zulte-Waregem 0-3 PSV (0-5 on agg)
Elfsborg 0-0 Celtic (0-1 on agg)
Legia Warsaw 0-0 Molde (1-1 on agg – Legia Warsaw win on away goals rule)