A Kris Commons header gave Celtic the edge in their Champions League third qualifying round tie.

With the hosts struggling to break down stubborn Elfsborg, the forward found the net on 76 minutes, nodding home a cross from Emilio Izaguirre.

James Forrest struck the crossbar with a first-half effort as Celtic were frustrated for long spells.

The well-organised visitors rarely threatened but also found the bar via a fantastic Fraser Forster save.

Celtic thoroughly deserved to win but will need to iron out some slack elements in their play ahead of next week's return leg in Sweden, with Swedish champions Elfsborg unbeaten on their artificial home pitch since September 2011.

Should Celtic come through the return leg, only the play-offs, with the first leg to take place on 20 or 21 August, stand between them and the group stages of the main competition.

It would be the second successive year Celtic achieved the feat, having come through qualifying last term before beating Barcelona in the group stages and then losing to Juventus in the last 16.

Neil Lennon's men almost made the perfect start as Anthony Stokes flashed a shot wide from a tight angle inside 12 seconds but showed signs of early season rust in the opening 45 minutes against a side midway through their domestic campaign.

Much of the pre-match talk concentrated on Mohamed Bangura, the Celtic striker on loan at Elfsborg, and whether or not he would play.

With no arrangement in place to prevent his selection, visiting manager boss Jorgen Lennartsson thrust the Sierra Leone player further into the limelight and his arrival on the pitch was marked with a loud chorus of boos.

The 24-year-old, who failed to score in 16 Celtic appearances, had an early low strike saved by Forster but faded from the match and was only really noticed again late in the second-half when a couple of theatrical tumbles enraged the home support.

Those fans were on their feet on 20 minutes when Forrest connected with a long, looping cross from Commons but the winger's side-foot volley spun off the turf and cannoned against the crossbar.

Scott Brown challenges Mo Bagura at Celtic Park

Soon after, Elfsborg also struck the frame of the goal, with Forster doing brilliantly to get a touch on a fierce strike from Anders Svensson.

The 37-year-old Sweden international was a stand-out performer throughout, providing great cover for his back four.

Celtic defender Efe Ambrose headed over from a corner before a free-kick from Stokes was tipped over by Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard on the stroke of half-time.

With new signing from Ajax Derk Boerrigter left out of the squad, Georgios Samaras was Celtic's main threat on the left and the galloping Greek had a shot saved right from the second-half whistle.

The Swedes were being pinned back as Celtic injected more pace and aggression into their attacks and Elfsborg responded with a series of cynical challenges to disrupt play.

Another shot from Samaras was deflected wide, with the forward claiming it had struck an arm in a yellow shirt.

With striker Stokes dropping ever deeper in search of the ball and the volume from the crowd dipping, Elfsborg looked a good bet to return home with a clean sheet.

But the crucial breakthrough came with 14 minutes remaining as Commons did well to steer his header in at the back post.

Samaras then had a header blocked by a defender on the line as Celtic pressed briefly for another goal but there was to be no storming finale, with Lennon's men content to protect their lead and Elfsborg afraid to abandon their defensive approach.

The second leg of Celtic's Champions League third qualifying round tie against Elfsborg is being broadcast live on BBC Two Scotland on Wednesday 7 August, kick-off 18.45 BST.

Lineup, Bookings (8) & Substitutions (5)

Celtic

  • 01 Forster
  • 03 Izaguirre Booked
  • 04 Ambrose
  • 06 Wilson
  • 23 Lustig
  • 08 Brown
  • 15 Commons Booked
  • 33 Kayal (Ledley - 66' )
  • 49 Forrest
  • 09 Samaras Booked (Mulgrew - 86' )
  • 10 Stokes

Substitutes

  • 24 Zaluska
  • 02 Matthews
  • 21 Mulgrew
  • 22 Mouyokolo
  • 16 Ledley
  • 17 Balde
  • 32 Watt

Elfsborg

  • 01 Stuhr-Ellegaard
  • 06 Jonsson
  • 15 Klarstrom Booked
  • 07 Larsson Booked
  • 08 Svensson Booked
  • 11 Mobaeck
  • 21 Hauger
  • 24 Ishizaki Booked (Jorgensen - 85' )
  • 25 Rohden
  • 14 Keene Booked (Hult - 80' )
  • 18 Bangura (Nilsson - 81' )

Substitutes

  • 30 Hassan
  • 03 Larsson
  • 27 Soderberg
  • 04 Jorgensen
  • 16 Claesson
  • 23 Hult
  • 09 Nilsson
Ref: Manuel de Sousa
Att: 40,153

Match Stats

Shots

14 3

On target

9 1

Corners

14 2

Fouls

5 16

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +2:07 Full time

Full Time The final whistle is blown by the referee.

90:00 +1:01

Lasse Nilsson challenges Kelvin Wilson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Kelvin Wilson.

88:56

Charlie Mulgrew produces a cross that goes out of play.

86:14

The ball is swung over by Mikael Lustig and goes out.

84:46

Corner from the left by-line taken by Kris Commons. Clearance by Johan Larsson.

84:46 Substitution

Substitution Charlie Mulgrew joins the action as a substitute, replacing Georgios Samaras.

84:46 Substitution

Substitution (IF Elfsborg) makes a substitution, with Joachim Jorgensen coming on for Stefan Ishizaki.

84:27

A cross is delivered by Emilio Izaguirre. Clearance made by Andreas Klarstrom.

80:14 Substitution

Substitution Mohamed Bangura leaves the field to be replaced by Lasse Nilsson.

79:57 Substitution

Substitution James Keene leaves the field to be replaced by Niklas Hult.

79:35

Corner taken by Kris Commons.

79:14

Corner taken short by Kris Commons.

77:50 Booking

Booking

77:31

Anders Svensson concedes a free kick for a foul on Georgios Samaras. The referee cautions Anders Svensson for unsporting behaviour. Effort on goal by Anthony Stokes from the free kick hits the wall.

75:48

Assist on the goal came from Emilio Izaguirre.

75:48 Goal scored

Goal! - Kris Commons - Celtic 1 - 0 Elfsborg Kris Commons scores. Celtic 1-0 IF Elfsborg.

75:05

Corner taken by James Forrest from the right by-line. Clearance made by Daniel Mobaeck.

73:12

James Forrest challenges Andreas Klarstrom unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard takes the free kick.

72:23

Corner from the right by-line taken by Kris Commons.

72:08

Corner from the right by-line taken by Kris Commons. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard punches the ball.

71:48

Scott Brown takes a shot. Daniel Mobaeck gets a block in.

71:30

The ball is swung over by James Forrest. Jon Jonsson manages to make a clearance.

69:56

Foul by Georgios Samaras on Jon Jonsson, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard.

65:08 Booking

Booking

64:53

The ball is swung over by Emilio Izaguirre. Clearance made by Andreas Klarstrom.

64:53 Substitution

Substitution Joe Ledley comes on in place of Beram Kayal.

64:53

Corner taken by Kris Commons. The referee cautions Georgios Samaras for unsporting behaviour.

64:34

Georgios Samaras takes a shot. Jon Jonsson gets a block in.

64:10

James Keene goes into the book.

64:10 Booking

Booking

64:02

James Keene gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras. Free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.

62:26

Anthony Stokes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Keene. Free kick taken by Jon Jonsson.

60:31

Handball decision goes against Mohamed Bangura. Kelvin Wilson restarts play with the free kick.

60:03

Header by Kris Commons goes over the bar.

59:08

The ball is crossed by Mikael Lustig. Stefan Ishizaki manages to make a clearance.

57:43

Handball decision goes against Beram Kayal. Free kick taken by Daniel Mobaeck.

56:34

Shot by Scott Brown went wide of the right-hand post.

54:46 Booking

Booking

54:34

Foul by Emilio Izaguirre on Mohamed Bangura, free kick awarded. Booking for Emilio Izaguirre for unsporting behaviour. Johan Larsson restarts play with the free kick.

54:16

The ball is crossed by Mikael Lustig. Clearance made by Daniel Mobaeck.

53:48

Johan Larsson challenges Kris Commons unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kris Commons crosses the ball in from the free kick. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard gets a fist to the ball to punch .

52:52 Booking

Booking

52:52

The referee shows Johan Larsson a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

52:47

Johan Larsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Georgios Samaras. Free kick crossed by Kris Commons. Clearance made by Jon Jonsson.

51:25

Free kick awarded for a foul by Mohamed Bangura on Efe Ambrose. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

50:53

Free kick awarded for a foul by Henning Hauger on Scott Brown. Free kick taken by Scott Brown.

50:11

Corner from the left by-line taken by Kris Commons. Marcus Rohden makes a clearance.

49:58

James Forrest produces a cross. Johan Larsson makes a clearance.

48:50

Stefan Ishizaki is booked.

48:50 Booking

Booking

48:45

Foul by Stefan Ishizaki on Georgios Samaras, free kick awarded. Beram Kayal restarts play with the free kick.

48:05

Handball decision goes against Georgios Samaras. Johan Larsson restarts play with the free kick.

46:32

Kris Commons shown a yellow card.

46:32 Booking

Booking

45:55

Georgios Samaras takes a shot. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard parries the ball away.

45:01

The referee blows the whistle to start the second half.

45:00 +1:02

Corner taken by Kris Commons from the left by-line.

45:00 +0:24 Half time

Half Time It is the end of the first-half.

44:50

Unfair challenge on Kris Commons by Johan Larsson results in a free kick. Strike comes in from Anthony Stokes from the free kick. Fine finger tip save by Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard.

43:53

Free kick awarded for a foul by Mohamed Bangura on Efe Ambrose. Free kick taken by Fraser Forster.

42:59

James Forrest crosses the ball.

42:45

Johan Larsson delivers the ball. Clearance made by Efe Ambrose.

38:29

Corner from the left by-line taken by Kris Commons.

37:30

Jon Jonsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Kris Commons. Kris Commons has an effort direct from the free kick. Mohamed Bangura gets a block in.

37:10

The ball is sent over by Beram Kayal. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard safely holds on.

36:13

The ball is delivered by Georgios Samaras.

33:37

Corner taken by Kris Commons. Header by Efe Ambrose goes over the bar.

32:03

Corner from the right by-line taken by Stefan Ishizaki. Header at goal by Anders Svensson goes over the frame of the goal.

31:00

Corner taken by Stefan Ishizaki.

30:43

Anders Svensson takes a shot.

29:51

Emilio Izaguirre crosses the ball. Clearance by Jon Jonsson.

27:26

The assistant referee signals for offside against Anthony Stokes. Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard takes the free kick.

26:35

Anthony Stokes takes a shot. Jon Jonsson gets a block in.

23:46

Corner taken by Kris Commons.

23:02

The referee penalises Johan Larsson for handball. Kris Commons crosses the ball in from the free kick.

21:38

Andreas Klarstrom sends in a cross. Kelvin Wilson makes a clearance.

21:13

Unfair challenge on Scott Brown by Anders Svensson results in a free kick. Scott Brown takes the free kick.

20:49

Mohamed Bangura challenges Efe Ambrose unfairly and gives away a free kick. Efe Ambrose restarts play with the free kick.

19:45

James Forrest takes a shot.

19:20

James Keene gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Georgios Samaras. Free kick taken by Emilio Izaguirre.

17:31

James Forrest crosses the ball. Clearance made by Daniel Mobaeck.

14:48

Mikael Lustig concedes a free kick for a foul on Mohamed Bangura. Free kick taken by Andreas Klarstrom.

14:07

Kris Commons takes a shot and goes over the bar.

12:39

Short corner worked by Kris Commons.

12:05

Kris Commons takes a short corner.

9:46 Booking

Booking

9:38

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on James Forrest by Andreas Klarstrom. Andreas Klarstrom goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour. Kris Commons shoots direct from the free kick against the wall.

4:20

Mohamed Bangura takes a shot. Fraser Forster catches the ball.

2:48

Marcus Rohden challenges Kelvin Wilson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kelvin Wilson takes the free kick.

0:00

The referee gets the game underway.

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