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Celtic hold out to eliminate Elfsborg

IF Elfsborg 0-0 Celtic FC (agg: 0-1)
The hosts could not find a breakthrough in a tight contest in Boras, meaning Neil Lennon's side advanced with a narrow aggregate success.

Elfsborg loanee Mohamed Bangura (left) could not find a goal against his parent club
Elfsborg loanee Mohamed Bangura (left) could not find a goal against his parent club ©JPIXFOTO/Jörgen Jarnberger

Celtic FC held out for a scoreless draw in Boras which took them past Swedish title holders IF Elfsborg and a step closer to a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage. 

Bringing with them a 1-0 advantage from last week's first leg, Neil Lennon's men withstood prolonged periods of pressure from Elfsborg but did not buckle, leaving their hosts to ponder what might have been. Elfsborg have not competed in a UEFA competition group stage since 2007/08 yet Jörgen Lennartsson's side may well feel they should have gone through after pushing Celtic all the way.

Indeed they might have had a goal after just six minutes through their Celtic loanee Mohamed Bangura, who sent an overhead volley a fraction wide of Fraser Forster's post. In the yellow of the hosts, Bangura was playing as if he had something to prove, muscling his way into a series of promising positions. He drove over after a powerful run and headed off target after escaping his marker.

That said, Celtic had chances of their own with Giorgos Samaras heading over from an excellent position, and Joe Ledley forcing Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard into a brilliant save after Kris Commons' deflected free-kick fell into the midfielder's path five metres from goal.

After the break Celtic sat deeper as they defended their aggregate advantage and made it increasingly difficult for the hosts to create clear opportunities, with Efe Ambrose and Kelvin Wilson repelling a series of crosses into the area.

That said there were still some anxious moments. Just before the hour Jon Jönsson had a shot blocked and on the follow-up substitute Tom Söderberg missed the target. Then, in the final minutes, James Keene had a great chance to take the game into extra time but scooped his shot over the bar after controlling a long ball smartly.