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Solid Celtic too strong for Helsingborg

Published: Tuesday 21 August 2012, 22.40CET
Helsingborgs IF 0-2 Celtic FC
Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras scored in each half as the Scottish champions closed in on a first group stage appearance since 2008/09.
by Andrew Haslam
Solid Celtic too strong for Helsingborg
Kris Commons is mobbed after putting Celtic in front ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 21 August 2012, 22.40CET

Solid Celtic too strong for Helsingborg

Helsingborgs IF 0-2 Celtic FC
Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras scored in each half as the Scottish champions closed in on a first group stage appearance since 2008/09.

A goal in each half from Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras rewarded Celtic FC for a disciplined display at Helsingborgs IF as the Scottish title holders claimed a valuable advantage in their UEFA Champions League play-off tie.

Neil Lennon's side took the lead in the second minute thanks to Commons' volley and while Helsingborg had the better of the match thereafter, it took the woodwork to deny Joe Ledley's header and keep them in touch. The Swedish champions were undone again when Samaras nodded in a 75th-minute corner, however, giving Celtic a cushion to take into next week's return in Glasgow.

Bidding to reach the group stage for the first time in four seasons, Celtic could scarcely have made a better start. Commons was left unmarked at the far post to meet Samaras' deep left-wing cross and duly directed his volley beyond Pär Hansson for his third goal in four games.

Any thoughts of Celtic dominance were dashed as the home side responded positively. Midway through the first period Thomas Sørum broke clear of the defence and on to Christoffer Andersson's clever flick, but his prodded effort was beaten away by the advancing Fraser Forster.

The visitors' back line was sprung again just before the half-hour as May Mahlangu dispossessed Adam Matthews on the halfway line to bear down on Forster's goal, but the Celtic defender recovered to make a saving challenge.

While Helsingborg were struggling for an equaliser, it was Celtic who came closest to scoring again early in the second period as a clever corner created space for Ledley, whose looping header clipped the crossbar.

Helsingborg's only previous group stage campaign came in 2000/01 and their hopes of a repeat shrank further with 15 minutes left, a deep cross once more proving their undoing as Commons' inswinging corner was met by the head of Samaras. Though the Greek striker and James Forrest went close late on, and Charlie Mulgrew's effort was kept out by the bar, the Glasgow club are still on the verge of a group stage return.

Last updated: 23/08/12 0.04CET

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