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Celtic dig deep to earn Elfsborg advantage

Celtic FC 1-0 IF Elfsborg
Kris Commons's second-half header earned Neil Lennon's team a 1-0 victory over the Swedish title holders in Glasgow.

Celtic dig deep to earn Elfsborg advantage
Celtic dig deep to earn Elfsborg advantage ©UEFA.com

Celtic FC earned a narrow win against IF Elfsborg in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie in Glasgow.

The Swedish champions looked as though they had done enough to claim a scoreless away draw only for Kris Commons to head home from close range on 76 minutes.

The Scottish title holders had shown their intent from the first whistle with Anthony Stokes latching onto a Giorgos Samaras flick before flashing a left-footed shot narrowly wide. Elfsborg responded with long-range efforts from Henning Hauger and Mohamed Bangura, who was playing against his parent club following a loan move earlier this year.

James Forrest came close to breaking the deadlock for the Hoops in the 20th minute, the winger ghosting in at the back post to cushion a shot that hit the crossbar with goalkeeper Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard beaten. Not to be outdone, Elfsborg captain Anders Svensson rattled the woodwork at the other end with a drive from distance as Jörgen Lennartsson's visitors grew into the game before the interval.

Just as they had done in the first half, Celtic came out after the restart and created a goalscoring opportunity. This time Stokes returned the favour to Samaras, playing in the Greek international who fired straight at the advancing Stuhr-Ellegaard. It would prove one of the few chances the home team would have in the second period against an Elfsborg side who were increasingly content to defend deep and leave Bangura on his own up front.

However, with 14 minutes remaining, Celtic made the breakthrough when Commons stooped inside the six-metre box to nod in Emilio Izaguirre's cross from the left. That goal gives Neil Lennon's charges a slender lead to take to the Borås Arena next Wednesday.

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