Good starts for Lennon and Gerrard
Celtic, Rangers launch Euro campaigns in style
Happy: Neil Lennon (pic: SNS Group).
FK Sarajevo 1 Celtic 3
Champions League qualifier
1st round, 1st leg
Celtic and Rangers made winning returns to action as they kicked off their respective European campaigns.
Neil Lennon watched his side fall behind to Sarajevo before goals from Michael Johnston, Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair saw the Hoops complete a 3-1 victory in their opening Champions League qualifier.
Earlier in the evening, Rangers strolled to a 4-0 win over St Joseph’s in Gibraltar to get their Europa League campaign off to the perfect start.
The two-goal margin should see the Celts complete the job in the return leg at Parkhead without much fuss, with Shkendija of Macedonia or Estonians Nomme Kalju lying in wait.
“We could have won by more. However, it’s a brilliant performance away from home,” said Lennon.
“Considering where we are, so early and against really decent opposition who are tactically smart and a big threat at set plays, it’s a great performance.
“It’s not easy. It was a really heavy pitch and difficult conditions. So, yeah, it was a really good start.”
Celtic: Bain, Ajer, Bitton, Simunovic, Johnston (Morgan, 65), Forrest (Sinclair, 78), Christie, McGregor, Bolingoli (Hayes, 57), Brown, Edouard.
Goals: Johnston (35), Edouard (51), Sinclair (85).
Good start: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group).
St Joseph’s 0 Rangers 4
1st round, 1st leg
Lennon’s opposite number Steven Gerrard was also content with his players’ performance in the 4-0 Europa League qualifying win over St Joseph’s in Gibraltar.
He hailed his team’s patience as the Glasgow side took a major stride towards the second qualifying round.
Rangers turned up the second-half heat in the sunshine to all but settle the tie.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, goals from Ryan Jack, debutant Sheyi Ojo, Borna Barisic and Alfredo Morelos made next week’s Ibrox return a formality.
It was a job well done for Gerrard and his men, who face a potential rematch against Progres Niederkorn.
“I thought we showed a fantastic attitude and mentality,” said the Gers boss.
“These places are tough because the conditions are tough, the pitch is tough, they put a lot of men behind the ball and they try and break up play, make fouls and slow the game down.
“So a lot of things were against the team and they set us a challenge to go and meet the block.
“But we showed fantastic patience and eventually we took one of our chances and the game then changes in our favour, and we go on from there to build and keep showing really good quality.”
He added: “If we took a chance in the first half then it would have been a little bit more enjoyable in the first half but you have got to stay at it, keep pushing, keep grinding, keep probing, and you hope that one of your big players steps up and makes the difference. A
“And, again, Ryan Jack has done that for us.”
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic, Jack (Aribo, 62), Kamara, Davis, Ojo, Jones (Stewart, 71), Defoe (Morelos, 63).
Goals: Jack (50), Ojo (56), Barisic (68), Morelos (77).