Celtic have a fantastic chance of qualifying for the Champions League group phase after a fine win against Helsingborgs in the play-off first leg.

Kris Commons volleyed home in the second minute but the Swedish hosts rallied strongly and Fraser Forster made several good saves.

Georgios Samaras nodded in from a corner on 75 minutes.

Celtic soaked up long periods of pressure but ended the game in control as Charlie Mulgrew hit the crossbar.

With the home leg to come in Glasgow next week, Neil Lennon's side are well placed to reach the lucrative group stage of Europe's premier contest for the first time in four years.

Celtic made the perfect start when Samaras broke down the left flank to deliver a cross for Commons, who hammered the ball down into the turf on its way into the corner of the net.

But the home side came roaring back and the lively Nikola Djurdjic, making his Helsingborgs debut, responded with a low drive that was smothered at his near post by Forster.

Former Rangers midfielder Alejandro Bedoya then broke free of the visiting defence only to see his low strike blocked by the outstretched foot of Forster.

The big English goalkeeper then surpassed those saves to thwart Thomas Sorum as the Celtic back line was breached again.

The striker was clean through but the advancing Forster threw up a hand to expertly push away the shot from 15 yards.

Skipper Scott Brown shrugged off a hip injury to start but struggled to exert much influence in a Celtic midfield missing the muscle of the suspended Victor Wanyama as the red-shirted home side streamed forward with menace.

A dreadful misjudgement from Adam Matthews near the halfway line allowed May Mahlangu to sprint clear but the Celtic full-back recovered to make a clumsy intervention on the edge of the penalty box.

Matthews certainly made no contact with the ball, although his challenge was just a shade outside the area.

Georgios Samaras scored a second-half header for Celtic

Samaras scored a second-half header for Celtic

The home fans were screaming for a spot-kick but Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca simply waved play on.

Helsingborgs continued to press and Bedoya sent a header wide before Djurdjic was off target with a shot after a purposeful surge into the penalty box.

The second half opened with Forster gathering a daisy-cutter from the swift Mahlangu, while Christoffer Andersson shot narrowly wide with a rising effort from 20 yards.

Half-time replacement James Forrest, on for Beram Kayal, helped Celtic retain possession for longer spells and it was from the winger's deft chip that Joe Ledley clipped the crossbar with a header.

Sorum dragged a strike wide and Jere Uronen curled a free kick into the arms of Forster after Thomas Rogne was cautioned for a handball, but Helsingborgs were growing increasingly desperate.

Home substitute David Accam scooped a shot horribly high from near the penalty spot after the impressive Ledley had to go off injured, with Kelvin Wilson the replacement from the bench.

The versatile Mulgrew was pushed into midfield to accommodate defender Wilson and immediately set up a shooting chance for Commons but the ball was not struck cleanly and posed no problems for Par Hansson.

However, the Helsingborgs keeper was beaten again with 15 minutes remaining when Samaras came charging in at the back post to nod in a high, looping corner from Commons.

Soon after, Samaras broke away from the tiring home defence with galloping run but sent an angled shot wide when Commons was well placed in front of goal.

Forrest then burst forward from the opposite flank and tested Hansson, while Mulgrew curled a shot against the crossbar from 20 yards with the home team in disarray.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (5)

Helsingborgs

  • 30 Hansson
  • 04 Atta
  • 06 Mahlangu
  • 23 Wahlstedt (Accam - 63' )
  • 28 Uronen
  • 03 Sadiku
  • 08 Gashi Booked
  • 20 Bedoya
  • 21 Andersson
  • 11 Sorum (Dos Santos - 65' Booked )
  • 18 Djurdjic

Substitutes

  • 01 Andersson
  • 14 Edman
  • 16 Baffo
  • 05 Nordmark
  • 25 Accam
  • 10 Dos Santos
  • 13 Bouaouzan

Celtic

  • 01 Forster Booked
  • 02 Matthews
  • 03 Izaguirre
  • 21 Mulgrew Booked
  • 25 Rogne Booked
  • 08 Brown
  • 15 Commons (Watt - 89' )
  • 16 Ledley (Wilson - 65' )
  • 33 Kayal (Forrest - 46' )
  • 09 Samaras
  • 88 Hooper

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 06 Wilson
  • 23 Lustig
  • 43 Chalmers
  • 20 McCourt
  • 49 Forrest
  • 32 Watt
Ref: O Benquerenca
Att: 12,200

Match Stats

Shots

16 11

On target

7 4

Corners

6 3

Fouls

17 11

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:11 Full time

Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.

90:00 +2:14

Inswinging corner taken by Jere Uronen from the right by-line, Unfair challenge on Adam Matthews by David Accam results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

89:55

Corner taken by Christoffer Andersson played to the near post, save by Fraser Forster.

88:55 Substitution

Substitution (Celtic) makes a substitution, with Tony Watt coming on for Kris Commons.

88:20 Booking

Booking Alvaro Dos Santos shown a yellow card.

86:34

Charlie Mulgrew takes the chance to get an effort at goal.

85:34

James Forrest takes a shot. Save by Par Hansson.

83:57

Inswinging corner taken by Jere Uronen from the right by-line, Loret Sadiku challenges Fraser Forster unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

83:21

Jere Uronen takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Emilio Izaguirre.

80:03

Shot by Kris Commons from a long way out goes over the crossbar.

79:03

Scott Brown challenges May Mahlangu unfairly and gives away a free kick. Christoffer Andersson takes the free kick.

78:36

Georgios Samaras has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the right of the target.

77:21

Foul by Gary Hooper on Ardian Gashi, free kick awarded. Christoffer Andersson restarts play with the free kick.

76:36

Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Walid Atta misses to the left of the goal.

74:38

Kris Commons provided the assist for the goal.

74:38 Goal scored

Goal! - Georgios Samaras - Hel'borgs 0 - 2 Celtic Georgios Samaras scores a headed goal from close in. Helsingborgs IF 0-2 Celtic.

74:05

Corner taken left-footed by Kris Commons,

72:38

Georgios Samaras fouled by Walid Atta, the ref awards a free kick. Kris Commons crosses the ball in from the free kick. Charlie Mulgrew is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Par Hansson takes the indirect free kick.

72:16

Alejandro Bedoya takes a shot. Save by Fraser Forster.

71:43

Nikola Djurdjic is caught offside. Indirect free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

70:49

Effort on goal by Kris Commons from 30 yards. Save made by Par Hansson.

70:02

Ardian Gashi gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Charlie Mulgrew. Free kick crossed left-footed by Kris Commons.

66:58

Shot on goal by David Accam from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.

65:42

Jere Uronen concedes a free kick for a foul on James Forrest. Scott Brown takes the direct free kick.

64:34 Substitution

Substitution Kelvin Wilson is brought on as a substitute for Joe Ledley.

64:34 Substitution

Substitution Alvaro Dos Santos joins the action as a substitute, replacing Thomas Sorum.

63:27

Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Christoffer Andersson, Thomas Sorum challenges Fraser Forster unfairly and gives away a free kick. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

62:49

Unfair challenge on David Accam by Joe Ledley results in a free kick. Jere Uronen crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Georgios Samaras.

61:11

Jere Uronen produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick, save made by Fraser Forster.

61:11 Substitution

Substitution Erik Wahlstedt leaves the field to be replaced by David Accam.

61:11 Booking

Booking Thomas Rogne goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.

61:01

The referee penalises Thomas Rogne for handball.

60:02

Shot from just outside the box by Thomas Sorum misses to the left of the target.

58:18

Thomas Sorum concedes a free kick for a foul on Charlie Mulgrew. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

56:07

James Forrest takes a short corner, Joe Ledley has a header from close range and clears the crossbar.

55:02

May Mahlangu has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand upright.

54:31

Shot from long distance by James Forrest goes wide of the left-hand post.

53:09

Kris Commons delivers the ball from the free kick left-footed from left channel.

53:09 Booking

Booking Ardian Gashi is booked.

53:01

Ardian Gashi challenges Joe Ledley unfairly and gives away a free kick.

52:07

Unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Ardian Gashi results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Joe Ledley.

50:07

Christoffer Andersson produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.

49:28

Drilled right-footed shot by Nikola Djurdjic. Save by Fraser Forster.

47:53

Ardian Gashi takes a shot. Save by Fraser Forster.

45:55

Kris Commons challenges Christoffer Andersson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Christoffer Andersson.

45:01

The second half has started.

45:01 Substitution

Substitution (Celtic) makes a substitution, with James Forrest coming on for Beram Kayal.

45:00 +1:13 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

45:00 +0:45

Erik Wahlstedt is penalised for a handball. Charlie Mulgrew takes the free kick.

45:00 +0:19

Nikola Djurdjic produces a cross.

39:54

Joe Ledley fouled by Loret Sadiku, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Scott Brown.

39:27

Ardian Gashi takes a long range shot clearing the bar.

38:25

Alejandro Bedoya takes a shot. Comfortable save by Fraser Forster.

36:56

Corner taken left-footed by Jere Uronen from the right by-line, Walid Atta challenges Scott Brown unfairly and gives away a free kick. Fraser Forster takes the free kick.

36:06

Ardian Gashi challenges Scott Brown unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Charlie Mulgrew.

33:21 Booking

Booking Booking for Fraser Forster.

32:39

Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Nikola Djurdjic goes wide of the left-hand post.

31:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Walid Atta by Joe Ledley. Walid Atta restarts play with the free kick.

31:18

Gary Hooper fouled by Jere Uronen, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Kris Commons from right wing, save by Par Hansson.

29:03

Header from close in by Alejandro Bedoya misses to the left of the goal.

27:22

Loret Sadiku crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Emilio Izaguirre manages to make a clearance.

27:22 Booking

Booking Charlie Mulgrew is booked.

26:59

Charlie Mulgrew concedes a free kick for a foul on Nikola Djurdjic.

24:54

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Christoffer Andersson by Beram Kayal. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Christoffer Andersson, save made by Fraser Forster.

23:31

Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Kris Commons, clearance made by Loret Sadiku.

20:48

Shot by Thomas Sorum. Save made by Fraser Forster.

19:10

Thomas Rogne fouled by Nikola Djurdjic, the ref awards a free kick. Fraser Forster restarts play with the free kick.

18:48

Effort from just outside the area by Beram Kayal goes over the bar.

18:12

Foul by Ardian Gashi on Georgios Samaras, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Joe Ledley.

15:59

Gary Hooper gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Walid Atta. Walid Atta takes the direct free kick.

15:09

Alejandro Bedoya takes a shot. Save by Fraser Forster.

13:28

Foul by Thomas Sorum on Charlie Mulgrew, free kick awarded. Charlie Mulgrew takes the direct free kick.

12:48

Shot from long distance by Kris Commons goes wide of the left-hand post.

11:40

Nikola Djurdjic takes a shot from 18 yards. Fraser Forster makes a comfortable save.

7:32

Unfair challenge on Nikola Djurdjic by Joe Ledley results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Loret Sadiku from right wing.

5:47

Walid Atta fouled by Gary Hooper, the ref awards a free kick. Par Hansson takes the free kick.

5:24

Unfair challenge on Beram Kayal by Nikola Djurdjic results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Thomas Rogne.

2:38

Kris Commons gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Christoffer Andersson. Free kick crossed by Christoffer Andersson, clearance by Emilio Izaguirre.

1:35

Georgios Samaras provided the assist for the goal.

1:35 Goal scored

Goal! - Kris Commons - Hel'borgs 0 - 1 Celtic Kris Commons scores a goal from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Helsingborgs IF 0-1 Celtic.

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers