Celtic give Helsingborg no chance
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Celtic FC 2-0 Helsingborgs IF (agg: 4-0)
Goals from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama saw the Hoops cruise back into the group stage for the first time since 2008/09.
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Goals in each half from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama gave Celtic a 2-0 win over Helsingborgs IF, ensuring a 4-0 aggregate victory for Neil Lennon's side in their UEFA Champions League play-off.
Hooper opened the scoring with a close range effort on 30 minutes before Wanyama sealed the victory, and a passage to the group stage of Europe’s top club tournament for the first time since the 2008/09 season, with a header two minutes from time.
The visitors were forced into a reshuffle just before kick-off when Loret Sadiku was injured in the warm-up meaning that Joseph Baffo was summoned from the bench to slot in at centre-back. However, the change of personnel did not unduly affect the Swedish champions, who settled first with Christoffer Andersson posing an early threat as part of a three-pronged attack.
Celtic's first attempt on target came in the 21st minute when Giorgos Samaras evaded the attentions of Ardian Gashi and Baffo before curling a shot straight into the arms of Pär Hansson. The Greek international was proving unstoppable on either flank, and just before the half hour he forced Hannson into a tip over which led to the opening goal. From the ensuing corner, Scott Brown's shot broke to Samaras at the back post, and he rolled the ball into the path of Hooper for the easiest of tap-ins.
It was the goal the home side required to settle any nerves, and with Samaras now given a free role, Celtic dominated proceedings for the rest of the first half, with James Forrest a constant menace on the right wing. The home side resumed the offensive after the break, although Helsingborg were almost back on level terms on 51 minutes when Jere Uronen's free-kick forced Fraser Forster into a smart save low to his left.
With a seemingly unassailable lead, Celtic lowered the tempo allowing Åge Hareide's side a foothold in the match, and May Mahlangu was the next to try his luck, stinging Forster's palms with a long-range effort. However, the Hoops never looked as though they were likely to be breached and, with 20 minutes remaining, Lennon was able to introduce teenage striker Tony Watt for the talismanic Samaras. The 18-year-old almost made an immediate impact with a header on target before Wanyama powered home Kris Commons' corner two minutes from time. By then, the home crowd were dreaming about tomorrow's draw in Monaco.