Neil Lennon

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Champions League wrap: Big day for the visitors

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Celtic and Porto are among the Champions League hopefuls who survived away challenges with their advancement hopes in fine shape after first legs of the third qualifying round.

[ MORE: ACL fears for Sane ]

Many of the ties remain tight, as the first five matches did Tuesday.

Krasnodar 0-1 Porto

Sergio Oliveira smashed a 90th minute free kick home to give Porto a vital away goal heading back to Portugal.

CFR Cluj 1-1 Celtic

James Forrest’s equalizer stands as Celtic’s away goal heading into a second leg which is still very tight.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon said he hopes to reinvest money if Kieran Tierney is bought by Arsenal before the end of Thursday’s deadline, but is staying tight-lipped about any deal.

“I don’t know anything. I’ve said the last few days it wouldn’t surprise me (if Arsenal came with a better offer). I don’t have any confirmation of that at all.”

Istanbul Basaksehir 0-1 Olympiacos

The 10-man Turkish hosts missed a penalty kick in stoppage time to make Giorgos Masouras’ goal that much more powerful.

FC Basel 1-2 LASK

It could’ve been worse for the favored hosts, who were down 2-0 until Luca Zuffi scored in the 87th minute. at St. Jakob-Park.

Maribor 1-3 Rosenborg

Alexander Soderlund scored two of the Norwegians’ three goals to build a very comfortable lead heading back home.

Champions League wrap: Celtic, HJK take decided advantages

photo by Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images
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The UEFA Champions League is back (sort of).

Teams that qualified for the qualification stage of the tournament took their next steps on this week with the first legs of the first qualifying round.

FK Sarajevo 1-3 Celtic

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was thrilled with the Bhoys first serious match of a new season.

“We had to fit a few square pegs in round holes because of where we are with the squad,” he said. “I thought [Kristoffer] Ajer was unbelievable at right back. Obviously that’s not a long-term thing.”

Mirko Oremus opened the scoring for the hosts in the 29th minute, but Celtic answered six minutes later through Michael Johnston. Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair finished off the scoring, and the visitors are in fine shape for the second leg in Glasgow.

HJK Helsinki 3-0 HB Toshavn

A 30th minute red card to Faith Friday Obilor wasn’t enough to short-circuit HJK’s chances. Leading 1-0 at the the time on Lassi Lappalainen’s first of two goals, the Finnish side eased into the second leg. Daniel O’Shaughnessy scored the other goal.

Tuesday results

Nomme Kalju 0-1 Shkendija
Suduva 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ararat-Armenia 2-1 AIK
Astana 1-0 CFR Cluj
F91 Dudelange 2-2 Valletta
New Saints 2-2 Feronikeli

Wednesday fixtures

Ferencvaros v. Ludogorets Razgrad
Partizani v. Qarabag
Slovan Bratislava v. Sutjeska Niksic
Sheriff Tiraspol v. Saburtalo Tbilisi
Linfield v. Rosenborg
Valur v. Maribor
Dundalk v. Riga FC
BATE Borisov v. Piast Gliwice

WATCH: USMNT’s Weah scores winner for Celtic

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon hasn’t been starting PSG loanee Tim Weah, so perhaps scoring when the boss wrote his name in the XI will help change that.

Making his first league start since Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester City, Weah nodded the Bhoys over the line in the 14th minute.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 3-0 Brighton and Hove Albion ]

The 19-year-old American now has four goals on his loan stint, three coming in league play, and has also produced an assist.

Weah’s versatility has found him at left wing, center forward, and right wing.

Celtic leads second place Rangers by 13 points.

Celtic outlasts 10-man Rangers in instant classic

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Old Firm Derby matches always carry intrigue, but this one carried that from moment one to the final whistle.

James Forrest’s 86th minute goal rescued Neil Lennon’s Celtic from what would’ve been an embarrassing draw against their 10-man rivals Rangers at Celtic Park.

It would’ve been a banner day for Rangers under Steven Gerrard, who weathered a red card to Alfredo Morelos to find an equalizer.

Odsonne Eduoard had a goal and an assist for Celtic, who now lead the table by 13 points.

[ MORE: English Championship focus ]

The Bhoys, looking to avenge a first Old Firm loss in ages, went ahead through Edouard in the 27th minute and looked to be in fine shape once Morelos earned his fifth (!!!) red card of the season four minutes later when he threw an elbow into Scott Brown.

But absolutely shocking defense from Celtic allowed Rangers to equalize through Ryan Kent, who scored the winner at the Ibrox, with the visitors’ first shot attempt of the match.

The ending was insane. Eduoard set up Forrest for the winner, a composed finish given the atmosphere, but Rangers kept coming forward.

Celtic cleared a goal mouth scramble wide through Kristoffer Ajer, and goalkeeper Scott Bain rescued the ensuing corner.

It all kicked off after the match, with James Tavernier, Bain, Kent, and Scott Brown at the heart of an on-field, post-whistle shoving match.

Here’s the winner.

Old Firm back in focus as Celtic host Rangers this weekend

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Celtic clinched its 49th Scottish Premiership title with a 5-0 shellacking of rivals Rangers last season, and can come a lot closer to adding No. 50 with a home Old Firm Derby triumph on Sunday.

It’s the first time that Celtic will be seeking to avoid back-to-back losses to Rangers in ages after Steven Gerrard‘s hosts evened the season’s series with a 1-0 defeat of Celtic at the Ibrox Stadium on Dec. 29.

[ MORE: Rashford wants new Man Utd deal ]

Celtic have a 10-point lead on Rangers through 30 matches of league play, and are hoping to sew up an eighth-straight title as quickly as possible.

To take another step while getting revenge against Gerrard and Rangers would be special. This is especially true after Gerrard shot down the idea of Celtic Park being an impactful venue. From Sky Sports:

“I’ve never seen fans win a football match, it will be loud but it won’t be a lion’s den. A lion’s den is when four lions jump over a cage and you fear for your life. You have to thrive in this atmosphere. If any of my players don’t fancy it they are at the wrong club.”

On the other sideline is Neil Lennon, overseeing his first Old Firm match since 2012. Celtic has three wins and a draw since Lennon took the reins from Brendan Rodgers, who took the manager’s chair at Leicester City.

Lennon spent 2000-07 as a player with Celtic, winning five titles, and managed the club to two league crowns during 2010-14. He went 6W-2D-4L against Rangers as Celtic boss, and would love to turn his interim manager title into the full-time gig.

Oddly, he claims the job won’t hang on this match. From the Scottish Daily Record:

“It’ll be whole package over the three months I’ll have been in charge. There is a lot of speculation surrounding that, but that’s all it is. Speculation and conjecture and I’ve obviously taken no notice of it.”