Lennon ‘delighted’ with Celtic Euro victory

Scottish champions Celtic will travel to Finland next week looking to secure their place in the Champions league after a narrow 2-1 victory over HJK Helsinki.

Lennon ‘delighted’ with Celtic Euro victory
Neil Lennon delighted with Celtic's Euro win
HJK Helsinki
Celtic: CELTIC (4-4-1-1): Forster; Matthews, Wanyama, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Forrest, Brown, Ledley, Samaras (Lustig 87); Commons (Stokes 63); Hooper (McCourt 87) Subs not used: Zaluska, Kayal, Rogne, F. Twardzik
HJK Helsinki: HJK HELSINKI (4-1-3-2): Wallen; Sorsa, Lindstrom, Lahti, Sumusalo; Perovuo; Mannstrom, Vayryen (Okkonen 74), Savage; Schuller (Pohjanpalo 84), Makela (Sadik 59) Subs not used: Sahlgren, Kansikas, Hakanpaa, Pelvas
SCORE: 0-1, min. 47, Schuller. 1-1,min 53, Hooper. 2-1 60 min, Mulgrew.
REFEREE: Referee:‬ M. Zelinka‎
INCIDENTS: 1st leg of the Champions League 3rd Qualifying round played at Celtic Park (Glasgow, Starthclyde). 55 000 spectators.

Scottish champions Celtic will travel to Finland next week looking to secure their place in the Champions league after a narrow 2-1 victory over HJK Helsinki.

Celtic had much of the possession and dominated much of the play in the first-half, looking the sharper of the two teams.

However, it was Helsinki that opened the scoring in the opening minutes of the second-half when Rasmus Schuller got on the end of a loose ball to fire it home.

But Celtic  weren’t about to lie down,  with Hooper equalising five minutes later and Mulgrew sending home the winner on the hour mark.

Celtic started the game strong, with Hooper almost putting them ahead within the first 20 seconds when Samaras flicked the ball to him, but his shot hit the side net.

James Forest also nearly got on the score sheet but his close range header went wide prompting calls from the home support for a penalty after it looked like he was pushed.

Joe Ledley had a powerful shot towards goal, but it just went wide. Not long after, he had another good shot on goal from a Victor Wanyama knockdown but the Helsinki keeper pulled of the save.

Helsinki then put some pressure on with a dangerous ball crossed into the Celtic box but it was cleared by Adam Matthews.

Another shot at goal seen Forster scramble to pull of a save.

Having lost chances in the first-half, Celtic came out in the second half knowing they must score.

But they were left reeling when Rasmus Schuller scored with a close range volley just two minutes in. Forster had stopped his first attempt but the ball rebounded of Wanyama and Schuller fired it back past Forster.

Celtic almost evened the score immediately when Commons nearly scored from outside the box, but his volley hit the post.

Celtic had further chances to increase their lead in the final stages of the game, with Scott Brown having the last attempt to increase their goal cushion, but they just couldn’t find that third goal.

Despite the missed chances Neil Lennon’s men will be hoping don’t come back to haunt them the manager was delighted with his teams performance.

"I´m not disappointed at all, I´m delighted," he said. "It was a huge improvement on where we were this time last year. I think Helsinki can count themselves pretty fortunate that it´s only 2-1, but we have got a week to get ready.
"We have another game at the weekend, obviously, and the players will benefit from that game tonight. I thought the tempo of the game was good and some of the football and the chances we created were superb against a team who just wanted to sit in and try and counter-attack.
"Even if we had won 3-1, the tie would have still have been in the balance," he said.  "Are we capable of scoring away from home? Well we proved that last year and we will have to do that again on Wednesday night.
"The score line doesn’t reflect the performance but sometimes that happens in football. With tonight and the game on Saturday, competitively, they will be up to match-speed and hopefully be a bit more sharper.
"Helsinki will think they have got a good result but I have seen enough there for there to be plenty of scope for us in the away tie as well."

Celtic travel to Finland next Wednesday to take on HJK Helsinki in the second leg at the Sonera Stadium.