Anderlecht impresses with dominant performance
Charlie Mulgrew of Celtic celebrates after scoring the winning goal against HJK Helsinki
BRUSSELS, Belgium ● Molde’s UEFA Champions League prospects are hanging in the balance, while Fenerbahce almost suffered a surprise home defeat.
Anderlecht, Maribor and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona all enjoyed convincing home wins as Helsingborgs delivered the most impressive result away from home.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hopes of setting up a reunion with his former club Manchester United in the group phase look doubtful after 10-man Molde lost 1-0 at home to Basel.
Molde’s chances of gaining a first-leg advantage were hit by Davy Angan’s red card after 27 minutes and Basel, who reached the knockout phase last term and dumped out United in the process, took advantage to score the only goal on 79 minutes through Jacques Zoua.
Anderlecht produced a dominant first-leg performance as Dieumerci Mbokani scored a goal in each half in a 5-0 mauling of FK Ekranas.
Tom de Sutter and da Rocha Kanu also scored in the first half for the Belgian side before former Liverpool flop Milan Jovanovic added a late fifth goal.
Club Brugge will be the favourites to join domestic rivals Anderlecht in the next round following a 0-0 draw away to FC Copenhagen.
Fenerbahce almost suffered a surprise home defeat before salvaging a 1-1 draw at home to Vaslui following a late equaliser.
Romanian outfit Vaslui took the lead 15 minutes from time through Liviu Antal, but Bekir Irtegun spared Fener’s blushes by levelling the tie a minute from time.
Fatos Begiraj’s 14th minute goal was enough to put Dinamo Zagreb in the driving seat to progress following a 1-0 win away to Sheriff Tiraspol.
Partizan Belgrade will have to overturn a first-leg deficit to progress after Patrick Vouho’s 13th minute goal earned AEL a 1-0 home triumph.
Helsingborgs produced an impressive result on their travels after posting a 3-0 win away to Polish side Slask Wroclaw.
Alfred Finnbogason scored before half-time and second-half goals from Christoffer Andersson and Daniel Nordmark sealed the win before Slask had Rok Elsner sent off late on.
Ibrahima Sidibe turned from hero to villain as Debrecen drew 1-1 away to BATE Borisov, who reached the group stage last season.
Debrecen took the lead in Belarus through Sidibe midway through the second half, but he then scored an injury-time goal to leave the tie finely balanced.
Bryan Gerzyach scored twice in the second half to all-but send Hapeol Ironi Kiryat Shmona into the next stage following a thumping 4-0 home success over Neftchi Baku.
Maribor will be confident of moving on in the competition after Dejan Mezga netted in both halves during a 4-1 home win over Dudelange.
CFR Cluj hold a slender lead going into their second leg against Slovan Liberec after Ricardo Cadu’s second-half penalty pinched a 1-0 home win.
Celtic will take a narrow advantage into the second leg of their Champions League third round qualifying tie after they came from behind to defeat Finnish champions HJK Helsinki 2-1 at Celtic Park on Wednesday.
With Rangers demoted to the third division, entry into Europe’s elite tournament and the millions that go with it are vital as Celtic bid to make up for the loss in attendance money caused by the absence of their fiercest rivals and the home side started at a frantic pace.
However, the Hoops failed to take their early chances and conceded a costly away goal just 90 seconds after the break when Rasmus Schuller finished from close range.
Gary Hooper fired home a 54th minute equaliser after being picked out in the box by Georgios Samaras before Charlie Mulgrew headed home a 61st minute winner.
It leaves Celtic with a tough task in the return leg next week as they bid to make the group stages of the competition for the first time since 2008.