No hiccups for Celtic as they see off Sarajevo
Leigh Griffiths makes return after time off for personal issues
Celtic’s Callum McGregor scores the winning goal at Celtic Park. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Celtic 2 Sarajevo 1 (Agg: 5-2)
Leigh Griffiths made his comeback as Celtic eased past Sarajevo in the Champions League qualifiers.
The striker came off the bench for the final 12 minutes of Celtic’s 2-1 home victory, which saw them progress 5-2 on aggregate.
Griffiths was given a huge ovation as he came on for his first competitive appearance since December last year, after taking time out of football to deal with personal issues.
There were to be no chances to make it a goalscoring return for the Scotland striker, who came on three minutes after Callum McGregor had fired Celtic back in front.
Ryan Christie had opened the scoring in the 26th minute and the Scottish champions were otherwise comfortable apart from conceding a poor goal to Benjamin Tatar in the 62nd minute, after Boli Bolingoli had lost possession on his Celtic Park debut.
The victory sets up a second qualifying round clash with Estonian side Nomme Kalju, who visit Parkhead next Wednesday.
Celtic were on the front foot from the off and left-back Bolingoli got their first shot on target after a slick move.
McGregor saw a shot saved as Celtic stepped up a gear and they were ahead moments later. Odsonne Edouard’s run into the box was halted and the loose ball fell for Christie, who steered it high into the net.
Celtic were getting space to create chances and Edouard could not connect with Morgan’s teasing low cross. James Forrest and Edouard had strikes saved and Bolingoli came close from 25 yards after good work from Morgan.
Jozo Simunovic and Christie had efforts saved after half-time and Bolingoli continued to get into good attacking positions. He worked a good chance but dragged the shot wide with his right foot.
However, the summer signing from Rapid Vienna was culpable as the visitors levelled with their first shot on target.
The defender saw an attempted ball forward cut out by the head of an opponent and Sarajevo quickly worked it to Tatar, who slotted into the corner of the net from 12 yards.
Tatar was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card moments later following a foul on Forrest, who soon had a curling shot saved on a counter-attack.
Edouard had a strike well saved before Celtic regained the lead. Morgan’s inside pass found McGregor in space 22 yards out and the midfielder drilled a shot past the goalkeeper.
The introduction of Griffiths soon led to more cheers from the home support but there were no more opportunities.