Europa League play-offs
Rangers and Celtic on course to remain in Europe
Opener: James Forrest shoots home (pic: SNS Group)
Rangers 0 Legia Warsaw 0
Polish Army Stadium
Celtic 2 AIK 0
Both Rangers and Celtic remain on course for the Europa League group stages after encouraging results in the first legs of their respective ties.
Steven Gerrard was satisfied after watching his side hold Legia Warsaw in Poland, despite his goal-happy strikers failing to find the net, while Parkhead counterpart Neil Lennon was equally pleased with his players after they carved out a two-goal cushion to take to Sweden next week.
The Ibox manager is proving something of a European specialist, with Rangers looking to make it through the qualifiers for the second season running. This draw means the Light Blues have lost just two of 21 games under Gerrard in the Europa League.
Allan McGregor made a couple of crucial saves to keep out the home side, while Alfredo Morelos spurned his side’s best chance when through on goal.
Gerrard will be delighted to see the early-season momentum continue to build and he’ll be confident of finishing the job in Glasgow in the return leg in seven days’ time.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan, Aribo, Davis, Jack, Arfield (Kamara), Ojo, Morelos (Defoe).
Lennon, under pressure after the embarrassing Champions League defeat by unfancied Cluj saw Celtic drop into the second-tier tournament, was also a happy man.
James Forrest broke the deadlock after the interval, with Edsonne Edouard doubling his side’s lead to send the Hoops to Sweden well placed to complete the job.
Interestingly, Lennon chose to play recent signings Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo and Christopher Jullien from the start.
The defensive pair, signed for a combined fee of £10million were both left on the bench as Celtic crashed out of the Champions League last week.
With Scott Bain out for some weeks with a dislocated thumb, the Glasgow side have completed the loan signing of goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The former England international, who watched the win over AIK, returns to Parkhead five years after being sold to Southampton for £10m.
The 31-year-old won three league championships and two Scottish Cups during a four-year spell under Lennon during which time he made 197 appearances for the Hoops.
His form in a Celtic jersey saw him earn the first of his six England caps when he played against Chile.
During his first spell at Parkhead, the 6ft 7in Forster set a new Scottish top-flight record of 13 consecutive clean sheets, in the end chalking up 1256 minutes without conceding a goal.
Celtic: Gordon, Ajer, Jullien, Simunovic, Bolingoli-Mbombo, Forrest (Ntcham), Brown, McGregor, Christie, Edouard (Bayo), Johnston (Morgan).
Goals: Celtic – Forrest (48), Edouard (73).