HJK Helsinki 0 Celtic 2

Scottish champions Celtic earned their place in the Champions League play-offs after they beat HJK Helsinki 2-0, giving them a 4-1 aggregate win.

HJK Helsinki 0 Celtic 2
Joe Ledley celebrating Celtics first goal
HJK Helsinki
0
2
Celtic
HJK Helsinki: HJKL HELSINKI (4-5-1) Wallen; Sorsa, Lahti, Lindstrom, Sumusalo; Mannstrom, Vayrynen, Perovuo (Sadik 70) Schuller, Savage; Pohjanpalo (Pelvas 78) Not Used: Sahlgren, Kansikas, Okkonen, Hakanpaa
Celtic: CELTIC (4-3-3) Forster; Matthews, Rogne, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Brown Wanyama, Ledley; Commons (Forrest 74) Hooper (Kayal 74) Samaras (Murphy 88) Not Used: Zaluska, Stokes, McCourt, Lustig
SCORE: 0-1, min 67, Ledley. 0-2, min. 86, Samaras.
REFEREE: Robert Schorgenhofer
INCIDENTS: Champions League qualifier between Scottish champions Celtic and HJK Helsinki at the Sonera Stadium, Finland Attendance:10,269

Despite the reservations about the plastic pitch, missed chances, a sending-off and questionable refereeing decisions, a superior Celtic side prevailed to claim a much deserved win.

Throughout the game Celtic looked comfortable but fans had an anxious wait until Joe Ledley opened the scoring in the 67th minute.

Celtic were dealt a blow when Victor Wanyama was sent off in the 71st after receiving a red card for his second booking of the game.

However Celtic didn’t waiver and Georgio Samaras slotted the ball home in the 86th minute to secure the win.

Celtic had much of the possession in the first half and should have scored. Scott Brown was back in the squad after passing a fitness test and could have opened the scoring in the 12th minute but, with just keeper Ville Wallen to beat, the Celtic captain sent the ball wide.

Minutes later a high pass from Kris Commons saw Samaras chest the ball before shooting, but his effort went past the post.

Gary Hooper found the net in the 28th minute but fans had to put their celebrations on hold as the off-side flag had already been raised.

Mika Vayrynen gave Helsinki their only real chance in the first-half with a long-distance drive towards goal but Fraser Forster pulled off the save comfortably.

Just before the end of the first-half Commons sent Hooper running towards goal but the Hoops hitman couldn’t direct his angled shot into the goal. These missed chances meant Celtic had to score in the second-half to keep their Champions League dream alive.

It was Helsinki who started of the second half more positively when Sorsa almost opened the scoring for the home side just minutes after kick off. It would have been a devastating blow for Celtic, but Forster managed to deflect the shot past the post.

Celtics claims for a penalty were ignored by the referee, much to the dismay of the travelling support, after Wanyama’s header from the back post appeared to hit the arm of Timi Lahti.

With just over an hour gone there was another tense moment for the Hoops fans. Helsinki won a corner and Mathias Lindstrom headed from close range. The Helsinki striker was only denied by an athletic save from Forster

Ledley’s goal in the 67th minute came after a cross from Charlie Mulgrew found him at the back post, which he chested into the net.

Celtic were reduced to 10 men at a crucial stage in the game when Wanyama received his red card in the 71st minute after getting a second yellow.

But the Celtic side didn’t waiver and Samaras went on to double the score in the 86th minute. Ledley passed passed a long ball into the Greek's path inside the 18 yard box, which he slotted into the bottom corner of the Helsinki net. The game ended 2-0 to Celtic and edged them closer to the lucrative group stages of the Champions League.