• Champions League qualifiers

Commons gives Celtic slender advantage

ESPN staff
July 31, 2013
Neil Lennon watched his Celtic team overcome a tough Elfsborg side © PA Photos

Kris Commons' second-half header gave Celtic a 1-0 first-leg advantage over Swedish side Elfsborg in their Champions League third qualifier at Parkhead.

It was not a vintage performance from the Hoops, who huffed and puffed for long spells against the organised and at times robust Swedish champions.

Both sides hit woodwork in an open and even first 45 minutes. In the 20th minute Celtic wide-man James Forrest struck the crossbar with a volley which first bounced off the ground, following a whipped-in cross from Commons.

However, the visitors grew in confidence as the game went on and skipper Anders Svensson rattled the Celtic bar from 25 yards in the 31st minute, before heading over from a Stefan Ishizaki corner moments later.

Celtic had more of the play and possession in the second-half and got the breakthrough when Emilio Izaguirre planted a cross on to the head Commons, who guided it past keeper Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard.

Much of the attention was on Mo Bangura, who, as expected, took his place in the Elfsborg side against his parent club who had tried and failed to prevent the 24-year-old striker, on loan to the Swedes for one year, from playing in either of the ties.

After away victories at HJK Helsinki and Helsingborgs in last season's qualifiers, Celtic will travel to Sweden next week for the second-leg with added confidence although manager Neil Lennon will be looking for some improvement.

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