FROM NEIL DOHERTY IN SWEDEN: CELTIC gave their hopes of a place in the Champions League groups a superb boost tonight with a 2-0 away win against Helsingborgs.
Goals from Kris Commons in the second minute and Georgios Samaras in the 75th saw off the plucky hosts, who were the better side for much of the first half but were outplayed by Neil Lennon’s side in the second period.
Having beaten HJK Helsinki in Finland in the previous round, Celtic have now won back-to-back away matches in this season’s competition.
That’s no mean feat – considering our form in Europe in recent years.
There’s no doubt the home side deserved more from this game; but it’s goals that count and for Celtic keeper Forster was in outstanding form.
As the Swedes pushed forward towards the end, Celtic could have scored two more.
Second half substitute James Forrest was superb; running endlessly on the right wing, and forcing back any threat from Helsingborgs on their left wing.
He had a shot himself parried.
Forrest also set up a header for Ledley but his effort just slipped over the bar – and Samaras was through on the keeper but curled his shot wide.
And just before the end, another silky run led to a chance for Charlie Mulgrew whose shot from the edge of the area smashed against the crossbar.
“I don’t think we’ve cracked it yet,” said manager Neil Lennon afterwards on winning two away matches on the trot.
“We are very grateful for the two goals and a clean sheet. Kris Commons was priceless for us tonight. He has started the season extremely well.
“We were much better in the second half; Forrest was superb and that made a big difference.
“But the job is only half-done; so we have to be careful in the second leg, but of course I’m very happy.”
CELTIC: Forster; Matthews, Rogne, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Commons, Brown, Kayal, Ledley, Samaras; Hooper
Subs: Zaluska, Wilson, Lustig, Chalmers, McCourt, Forrest, Watt