Lincoln Red Imps

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UEFA Champions League roundup: Celtic bounces back, off to Kazakhstan

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There will be no historic upset for semi-pro Lincoln, who found that life in “Paradise” was anything but.

Celtic hammered the Red Imps 3-0 on Wednesday behind goals from Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts, and Mikael Lustig to advance to the third qualifying round, where it will face Astana of Kazakhstan.

[ MORE: Allardyce to England ]

Brendan Rodgers had egg on his face after a sloppy first leg saw his side down 1-0, but the Scottish champs easily corrected the deficit by scoring in the 23rd, 25th and 29th minutes.

Second qualifying round aggregate results
Qarabag 3-1 F91 Dudelange
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 3-2 Sheriff Tiraspol
Olimpija Ljubljana 6-6 Trencin (Trencin wins on away goals)
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Liepaja
Vardar 3-5 Dinamo Zagreb
New Saints 0-3 APOEL
Zrinjski Mostar 1-3 Legia Warsaw
Ludogorets Razgrad 5-0 Mladost Podgorica
Dinamo Tbilisi 3-1 Alashkert
Zalgiris Vilnius 1-2 Astana
Partizani Tirana 2-2 Ferencvaros  (Partizani wins in PKs)
BATE Borisov 4-2 SJK
Valletta 2-4 Red Star Belgrade
Rosenborg 5-4 IFG Norrkoping
Dundalk 3-3 FH (Dundalk wins on away goals)
Lincoln Red Imps 1-3 Celtic
Crusaders 0-9 Copenhagen

Third qualifying round schedule (July 26-27 and Aug. 2-3)
Rosenborg vs. APOEL
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Dinamo Tbilisi
Olympiacos vs Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Astana vs. Celtic
Trencin vs. Legia Warsaw
Viktoria Plzen vs. Qarabag
Astra Giurgiu vs. Copenhagen
BATE Borisov vs. Dundalk
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Red Star Belgrade
Partizani Tirana vs. Red Bull Salzburg
Ajax vs. PAOK
Sparta Prague vs. Steaua Bucuresti
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Young Boys
Rostov vs. Anderlecht
Fenerbahce vs. Monaco

Semi-pro Lincoln gets new foe if it tops Celtic: Lack of vacation time

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Gibraltar semi-pro side Lincoln Red Imps are 90 minutes away from a shocking upset of Celtic, and a trip to either Kazakhstan or Lithuania.

The Red Imps aren’t looking too much further ahead, but a win there would get them into the group stages of UEFA Champions League.

Why would that be a problem?

Well, all but five of these guys have day jobs, like team captain and customs officer Roy Chipolina.

From the BBC:

“If we do go through, we might struggle,” added Chipolina, who works as a customs officer.

“I’ve used up all my special leave and now I’m into my annual leave.”

We’re pretty sure being the top story in national history will get some extra vacation time for the players, but it’s a stark reminder of the differences between Lincoln and Celtic.

Then again, new Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers said the loss was “no embarrassment” after previously saying they’d treat Lincoln “like Barcelona” in the first leg.

Maybe just treat them like Lincoln, Brendan.

Rodgers: “No embarrassment” for Celtic’s Champions League loss to semi-pro side

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It’s not often we’re writing about the Champions League in July. Usually, any teams of note in qualifying handle their business and move on.

That’s not the case for Brendan Rodgers and Celtic, as the ex-Liverpool man lost his first match in charge of the legendary Scottish outfit.

[ MORE: Match recap/goal video ]

That 1-0 loss comes against the semi-pro Lincoln Red Imps, and Rodgers managed to show he’s the same fella we remember. Not only did Rodgers assess the team’s performance as fine, but he discredited the team that beat them by calling them “the local team”.

From the BBC:

“A game that we dominated and had enough chances to score, but sometimes it can happen in games like that, one ball up the pitch and they’re in. We’ve given ourselves a bit of work to do. I saw enough from the game, we created enough to go through. Of course you never want to lose the game. You let the local team have their night, we press on, another week’s training and be better for it. There’s no embarrassment. We never took our chances and they took theirs. The second leg will be different.”

As you were, Brendan. As you were.

Lincoln’s policeman striker beats Rodgers, Celtic in Champions League (video)

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Brendan Rodgers first serious game in charge of Celtic was an unmitigated disaster.

The ex-Liverpool boss oversaw a 1-0 loss to Gibraltar semi-pro side Lincoln Red Imps in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round match.

[ MORE: Loew staying on at Germany ]

Gibraltar policeman Lee Casciaro scored the goal, and you’ll be forgiven if you don’t know much about him. The 34-year-old has played every game of his career for the Red Imps, and has made five appearances for the nascent Gibraltar national team.

It’s a shocking loss for Celtic, and hard to place in their more embarrassing moments in club history. Rodgers had said before the game that Celtic would treat Lincoln like Barcelona.

The second leg is July 20 at Celtic Park.


Who’s in across Europe? Glancing at the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League

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We’re down to the Final Four (don’t sue) in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League, and by now we know plenty about Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich. So who will we see in next season’s edition?

Some slots are firm, while there’s plenty to be settled in the next few weeks in others. Let’s take a look at whose guaranteed to make the group stage:

Spain: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona
England: Liverpool
Germany: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund
Italy: Juventus, Roma
Portugal: Benfica, Sporting CP
France: Paris Saint-Germain
Greece: Olympiacos

As for the open spots in the group stage:

England (Second and third-place clubs still undecided): Right now, it’s Chelsea (75 points, 3 to play) and Manchester City (74 points, 4 to play) with a sizable advantage on fourth-place Arsenal (70 points, 3 to play) and fifth-place Everton (69 points, 3 to play). City’s pretty much a lock, and the Blues aren’t far behind despite recent injury troubles.

Germany (Third-place club still undecided): Schalke is in the driver’s seat, with 58 points and three matches left in the Bundesliga. Bayer Leverkusen is four back of Schalke while Wolfsburg is five back.

France (Second-place club still undecided): Monaco will be in the Champions League, but it’s group stage fate is uncertain until Lille fades a bit further back. There are four matches to be played, but any points lost by Lille will all but clinch the group stage spot for Monaco.

Ukraine (First-place club still undecided): This one could go right down to the final match day on May 17. Shakhtar Donetsk is currently in first by three points, but have played one more match than Dnipro. Shakhtar has the better goal differential as well.

Russia: (First-place club still undecided): Zenit St. Petersburg has the pole position by a single-point, but their upcoming match with second-spot Lokomotiv Moskva means CSKA Moskva has a shot despite being four points back.

Netherlands: (First-place club still undecided): Ajax is in the Champions League and their group stage fate with a single point in their remaining two matches, both against lower clubs. Feyenoord waits six points back with only the weakest hopes.

Turkey: (First-place club still undecided): Fenerbache would be in the competition, holders of a healthy 12-point lead on second-place Besiktas, but sanctions have the club barred from Europe. So it’ll be either Besiktas or third-place Galatasaray, the latter being two points back of second place.

Belgium: (First-place club still undecided): Still five rounds of playoffs to go, meaning Standard Liege, Club Brugge, Zulte Waregem, Anderlecht, Lokeren and Genk are all options. The first round mentioned are within four points of each other and have the best chance to advance.

And while there are plenty of clubs alive for berths, why don’t we take the chance to congratulate some of the other auto-qualifiers, regardless of whether their missions begin in July or December:

Gibraltar: Lincoln Red Imps
Estonia: Levadia Tallinn
Northern Ireland: Cliftonville
Faroe Islands: Havnar Boltfelag

Wales: The New Saints
Portugal: Porto
Austria: Red Bull Salzburg
Scotland: Celtic

Latvia: Ventspils
Belarus: BATE Borisov
Croatia: Dinamo Zagreb
Kazakhstan: Aktobe

Finland: Helsingin Jalkapalloklubi
Sweden: Malmo
Iceland: Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur
Norway: Stromsgodset

Ireland: St. Patrick’s Athletic
Lithuania: Zalgiris Vilnius