Celtic toppled Rangers 1-0 in the first Old Firm derby of the season on Sunday at the Ibrox Stadium, Neil Lennon out-foxing Steven Gerrard via Odsonne Eduoard.
In a match with as many fouls as shot attempts, the man Celtic supporters call “French Eddy” make the difference with a goal and a stoppage time assist of Jonny Hayes.
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Rangers’ Jordan Jones was sent off for a reckless sliding foul in the sixth minute of stoppage.
It was Rangers’ first loss of the season, leaving Gerrard’s men three points back of perfect Celtic after four match days.
And for Celtic boss Lennon, it was somehow… vindication? The dominant side of Scottish football clearly had a thorn stuck in its foot despite its consistent run of titles, probably due to a shortened Champions League campaign and the perceived uninspiring hire of Lennon to replace Brendan Rodgers:
“Myself, the board, the players have all been written off so early. But we don’t believe the noise. We don’t believe the hype. We’ve come here and performed an outstanding masterclass of how to play in a derby at Ibrox.”
The 21-year-old Eduoard scored his fifth goal in seven Old Firm Derbies to go with two assists. All of those matches were wins for the Bhoys. It’s safe to say he’s taken the mantle of rival star from Moussa Dembele, now of Lyon.
Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor was very good in the second half, giving his men a chance after the hosts’ early second half surge relented and saw Celtic on the front foot.
Gerrard lost a derby at the Ibrox for the first time, entering the day 2-2 with wins at home and losses at Celtic Park.
The UEFA Europa League playoff round has arrived and it is crunch time for three British teams hoping to reach the group stage of the competition.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
Wolverhampton Wanderers have negotiated the second and third qualifying rounds to reach this stage, as the Premier League side have made light work of Crusaders and Pyunik but Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men now have a really tough challenge. They play Serie A side Torino in Turin on Thursday in the first leg, and after Wolves drew against Man United on Monday they’ve had little time to rest.
Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic and Rangers are also in action, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic disappointed to crash out of the Champions League in the qualifying rounds as they now have to dust themselves off and get past Swedish side AIK.
Steven Gerrard and Rangers have had to battle through three rounds of qualifying to get to this stage and they head to Legia Warsaw knowing they will be up against it. The Polish giants finished second in their top-flight last season and Rangers will be relying heavily on top goalscorer Alfredo Morales to come up with the goods once again.
Feyenoord host Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Daniel Sturridge‘s Trabzonspor head to AEK Athens and Northern Irish side Linfield host Qarabag in some of the other intriguing clashes, as the first legs are set to be tight and tense with group stage qualification on the line.
Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while below is the schedule for the Europa League playoff games on Thursday. We will have you covered on Wolves’ European adventure here on Pro Soccer Talk with reaction and analysis.
Thursday’s Europa League playoff round first legs
Astana 3-0 BATE Borisov
Avan Academy v. Dudelange — 11 a.m. ET
FK Suduva v. Ferencvaros — 1 p.m. ET
Malmo v. Bnei Yehuda — 1 p.m. ET
Feyenoord v. Hapoel Beer-Sheva — 1:30 p.m. ET
Ludogorets v. Maribor — 1:30 p.m. ET
Copenhagen v. Riga — 1:45 p.m. ET
AEK Athens v. Trabzonspor — 2 p.m. ET
Legia Warsaw v. Rangers — 2 p.m. ET
FCSB v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET
Gent v. Rijeka — 2:30 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven v. Apollon Limassol — 2:30 p.m. ET
Strasbourg v. Eintracht Frankfurt — 2:30 p.m. ET
AZ Alkmaar v. Antwerp — 2:30 p.m. ET
Celtic v. AIK — 2:45 p.m. ET
Linfield v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Braga v. Spartak Moscow — 2:45 p.m. ET
Espanyol v. Zorya — 3 p.m. ET
Torino v. Wolves — 3 p.m. ET
Partizan v. Molde — 3 p.m. ET
Slovan Bratislava v. PAOK — 3 p.m. ET
Celtic took another step toward the UEFA Champions League group stage, adding to a comfortable first leg advantage in dispatching Estonian side Nomme Kalju on Tuesday.
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Familiar faces Basel, Olympiacos, Ferencvaros, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, and APOEL Nicosia also clinched third qualifying round berths for early August.
FC Basel 2-1 (4-4 agg.) PSV Eindhoven
Away goals struck again, as Bruma’s 23rd minute goal was not enough to offset Basel’s three goals in the Netherlands.
PSV won 3-2 at home, but the result was not enough, as Eray Comert and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel pushed the Swiss side into the next round.
Nomme Kalju 0-2 (0-7 agg.) Celtic
A 10th minute own goal meant the Estonians’ task of overturning a 5-0 first leg deficit went from unlikely to near impossible, and Marian Shved salted the result away at stoppage time at A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn.
Next up for Celtic is Romania’s CFR Cluj, who snuck past Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel.
And how about this laser from Ukrainian debutant Shved?
Olympiacos 4-0 (4-0 agg.) Viktoria Plzen
Valletta 1-1 (2-4 agg.) Ferencvaros
Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 (5-0 agg.) Saburtalo
Maccabi Tel-Aviv 2-2 (2-3 agg.) CFR Cluj
APOEL Nicosia 3-0 (4-0 agg.) Sutjeska Niksic
Could USMNT center back Aaron Long be headed to the Premier League?
The 26-year-old could join West Ham United’s stable of center backs, which includes Issa Diop, Fabian Balbuena, and Angelo Ogbonna.
Sky Sports says that the Red Bulls defender has drawn the interest of Lyon and Fiorentina, but been offered to the Irons should they match his $5 million release clause.
Unable to find a place with Portland and Seattle, Long spent a few seasons in the USL before earning a place with RBNY.
Now 11-times capped by the USMNT with two goals, Long could be bringing his talents to London’s Olympic Stadium.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Newcastle United has the chance to sign oft-injured Danny Welbeck on a free transfer.
The longtime Arsenal striker, weaned at Manchester United, scored five times in 12 matches last season in a return to injury woes following a 43-match season the prior year.
Newcastle is also being linked with a former defender. James Tavernier has gone on to captain Glasgow Rangers, and the 27-year-old would cost around $10 million.
Surely Steven Gerrard would want more for the defender, but prices haven’t met quality for Scottish Premiership players as we’ve seen with Kieran Tierney at Celtic.
The first qualifying round of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League kicks off on Tuesday, with Scottish champions Celtic in action.
[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]
16 games take place across Tuesday and Wednesday, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic heading to Bosnia and Herzegovina to play FK Sarajevo. Celtic are favored, but these early European games are always trick to negotiate.
Some other notable teams in UCL first qualifying round, first leg action on Tuesday include Red Star Belgrade playing FK Suduva, while Welsh side The New Saints play Kosovan side Feronikeli.
Teams still have to get through another three rounds to make the UCL group stage, but Astana, FC Ararat Armenia, FK Shkendija and HJK Helsinki all record first leg victories earlier on Tuesday.
Below is the schedule for Tuesday, while you can click on the link above to follow the action and scores from around Europe.
Tuesday’s UCL first qualifying round, first leg schedule
Astana 1-0 CFR Cluj – Result
FC Ararat Armenia 2-1 AIK – Result
Nomme Kalju 0-1 FK Shkendija – Result
HJK Helsinki 3-0 Havnar Boltfelag – Result
FK Sarajevo v. Celtic
The New Saints v. Feronikeli
FK Suduva v. Red Star Belgrade
F91 Dudelange v. Valletta FC