Champions League qualifier
Job well done as Celtic ease to comfortable win
Callum McGregor completed the scoring in Celtic’s convincing 3-0 win over Alashkert in Armenia (pic: SNS Group)
Alashkert 0 Celtic 3
1st qualifying round, 1st leg
Celtic’s long journey to the promised land of the Champions League group stages began well with a comfortable win over Alashkert in Armenia.
The Hoops will have to negotiate four qualifying rounds this season to reach the money-spinning phase and boss Brendan Rodgers will have been delighted with the professional display in the first round, first-leg tie.
Odsonne Edouard, now a permanent signing having spent last season on loan from Paris St Germain, had the visitors ahead at the break in Yerevan when he knocked the ball home on the stroke of half-time.
It was just the start the Scottish champions had been looking for, with their hosts providing little threat in front of Craig Gordon’s goal.
One of their best chances came moments after the restart when a slip by Jack Hendry allowed Jefferson Reis in on goal but he could only shoot straight at Gordon from the edge of the area.
James Forrest and Callum McGregor netted in the closing minutes to complete a successful return to competitive action for the Hoops in sapping conditions.
The second leg in Glasgow next week is now a formality, and with such an advantage, Rodgers could well take the opportunity to make a number of personnel changes for the Parkhead clash.
The Celtic manager said: “It was very pleasing because, of the three first-round ties we have played, that was the most difficult.
“To play in that heat and end up controlling the game was pleasing.
“We concentrated well and scored three very good goals.
“We have a long way to go to get to full capacity, but they kept pushing and got their rewards.”
The winners of this tie will face Rosenborg of Norway or Icelandic outfit Valur in the second qualifying round.
Celtic: Gordon, Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic, Forrest, Brown, Ntcham (Kouassi, 68), McGregor, Tierney, Dembele (Sinclair, 68), Edouard (Morgan, 77).
Goals: Edouard, Forrest, McGregor.