Celtic's Stockholm show secures Europa League group stages

Rangers leave it late to secure their passage against Legia Warsaw as Wolves see off Torino

Celtic’s James Forrest (middle) celebrates with team-mates after opening the scoring in the Europa League qualifier playoff second leg against AIK at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Photograph: Jonas Ekstromer/AFP/Getty Images

Celtic’s James Forrest (middle) celebrates with team-mates after opening the scoring in the Europa League qualifier playoff second leg against AIK at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Photograph: Jonas Ekstromer/AFP/Getty Images

 

AIK 1 Celtic 4 (Celtic win 6-1 on agg)
Christopher Jullien and Lewis Morgan scored their first Celtic goals in Stockholm as Neil Lennon’s side cruised into the Europa League group stage.

But the 4-1 win over AIK came at a cost, as a groin injury for Kristoffer Ajer made him a major doubt for Sunday’s trip to Ibrox.

Jullien and Morgan netted from close range in the closing stages, but wingers James Forrest and Michael Johnston had done the damage in the first half as Celtic went into Friday’s draw with a 6-1 aggregate victory over the Swedish champions.

Forrest netted with a brilliant counterattacking goal in the 17th minute, and Celtic responded immediately thanks to some impressive wing play from Johnston after Sebastian Larsson had levelled from the spot in the 33rd minute.

However, Lennon was left sweating on the fitness of Ajer with the first Old Firm derby of the season against Rangers looming, while Odsonne Edouard left the field with cramp.

Ajer, who has been Celtic’s best defender this season in an inconsistent defensive selection, went off before the opening goal after struggling with knee and shoulder injuries in recent weeks.

Celtic were already missing right back Hatem Abd Elhamed and centre back Jozo Simunovic through injury, although both could return for Sunday’s game.

Anthony Ralston came on for Ajer, with new right back Moritz Bauer not registered for the game following his loan move from Stoke.

Rangers 1 Legia Warsaw 0 (Rangers won 1-0 on agg)
Alfredo Morelos sparked jubilant scenes at Ibrox as his injury-time winner against Legia Warsaw sent Rangers into the group stages.

Eyes and ears were on the Govan stands as much as the action on the pitch after Uefa issued Rangers with a double rap for sectarian singing.

But the biggest roar of the night was reserved for Morelos as he sealed a last-gasp 1-0 win which sees Steven Gerrard’s team repeat their feat of successfully making it all the way through four rounds to qualify.

And Legia will likely now find themselves in trouble with European football’s governing body after the travelling Polish support set off a spectacular pyrotechnic display that saw the game temporarily halted with the field shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke.

Rangers were forced to close off 3,000 seats as a result of the sectarian chants that marred their opening qualifier with St Joseph’s, while the threat of a more severe punishment – including a full stadium closure – is yet to be decided after more chants were aired in Warsaw last week.

The Legia fans did their best to spark a response from the home support as they unfurled a banner apparently depicting the late Pope John Paul II.

But the home faithful kept the songbook clean as they responded to Gerrard’s call to pump up the noise.

Wolves 2 Torino 1 (Wolves won 5-3 on agg)
Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker fired Wolves into the Europa League group stage after a 2-1 win over Torino.

Striker Jimenez struck his sixth goal in six European games to help send the hosts through 5-3 on aggregate in their playoff.

Andrea Belotti briefly levelled in the second half before Dendocker struck to cap victory at Molineux.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side now wait for Friday’s main draw in Monaco after battling through the qualifying rounds to extend their first European campaign since 1980.

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