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Celtic coast past Cliftonville

ESPN staff
July 17, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Georgios Samaras was on the scoresheet for Celtic © PA Photos
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Goals from Mikael Lustig, Georgios Samaras and James Forrest gave Celtic a comfortable 3-0 win over Cliftonville and ensured there is little chance of an upset when the part-time Irish side travel to Parkhead next week for the second leg of their Champions League second qualifier.

It had promised to be a nervy night for the visitors, who had lost all four of their pre-season games and who had a clutch of players missing for various reasons.

However, Neil Lennon's side, especially in the first 45 minutes, showed the professionalism and purpose which had taken them to the last-16 of the tournament last season.

Full-back Lustig gave the Scottish champions the lead at Solitude in the 25th minute when he broke away from the Reds defence at the near post to head in a Kris Commons corner.

Six minutes later Greek forward Samaras, who had revealed his aversion for the ground's artificial pitch before the game, finished off a move involving Forrest and Commons by turning at the edge of the box and driving an unstoppable shot past Reds keeper Conor Devlin.

And in a one-sided first-half, watched by almost 5,000 enthusiastic fans who had packed into the tiny ground in north Belfast, Commons also hit woodwork twice.

Anthony Stokes hit the bar for Celtic with a drive before he set up Forrest in the 84th minute to hammer the ball home to make the return game in Glasgow a formality.

Elsewhere, Sligo went down 1-0 to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde at The Showgrounds, while Welsh side Total Network Solutions led Legia Warsaw at half-time thanks to Ryan Fraughan's 11th-minute goal before three second-half strikes gave the visitors the advantage going into the second leg.

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