Europa League play-offs, 2nd legs
European success sets up an Old Firm cracker at Ibrox
Delight: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)
AIK 1 Celtic 4 (agg: 1-6)
Rangers 1 Legia Warsaw 0 (agg: 1-0)
Celtic and Rangers will go into their first league meeting of the season on a crest of a wave after both teams qualified for the Europa League group stages.
The two teams are locked at the top of the Premiership and go head to head on Sunday at Ibrox, buoyed by their European successes.
While Celtic cruised through against AIK after an impressive victory in Stockholm, their city rivals left it late to edge past Legia Warsaw in Glasgow.
That it took an injury-time winner from Alfredo Morelos to clinch the aggregate win on a nervous night in Govan will matter little to manager Steven Gerrard, who has now guided his team into the group stages for the second season in succession.
Gerrard had said before the tie that he expected it to go to the wire and how right he was, the only goal of the play-off coming in time added on at Ibrox.
Despite having signed a contract extension to 2023, speculation over Morelos’ future continues to rumble on but the Colombian once again underlined his value to Rangers, netting his eighth goal in Europe this season.
Rangers: McGregor, Barisic (Flanagan), Katic, Goldson, Tavernier, Arfield (Jones), Jack, Davis, Aribo, Morelos, Ojo (Kamara).
Goals: Rangers – Morelos (90).
Celtic recorded one of their more impressive results away from home in Europe to sweep aside their Swedish opponents.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg at Parkhead, Neil Lennon’s side had the tie all but wrapped up by half-time at the Friends Arena, James Forrest and Michael Johnston sending them in at the break 2-1 ahead.
Further goals late on from Christopher Jullien and Lewis Morgan put the icing on the cake.
Celtic: Gordon, Ajer (Ralston), Bitton, Jullien, Bolingoli-Mbombo, Brown, McGregor, Forrest, Johnston (Morgan), Christie, Edouard (Bayo).
Goals: Celtic – Forrest (16), Johnston (34), Jullien (86), Morgan (90).
All eyes will now turn to Ibrox on Sunday for the eagerly-anticipated meeting between the two teams.
Rangers have closed the gap on their rivals in the last 12 months and will be looking to make a statement of intent as they attempt to stop Celtic chalking up nine-in-a-row league championship wins.