Champions League qualifiers: Cliftonville v Celtic

Celtic ease to a 3-0 victory over Cliftonville in the first leg of the second qualifying round in the Champions League.

17 July 2013 Last updated at 23:11

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As it happened

  1. 1855: 

    Can it really be that time again? Following a close season seemingly shorter than a pair of Ronnie Corbett's trousers, the new football campaign is upon us...

  2. 1857: 

    Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin describes tonight's Champions League qualifier in Belfast as the biggest game in the club's history.

    For Celtic, the first leg of the second qualifying round represents the first step of their bid to reach the group stages.

    To do so, they'll need to negotiate safe passage through second and third qualifying rounds before the play-off stage.

  3. 1859: 

    Good evening and welcome to our live text coverage of the game at Solitude.

    Tweet the commentary using the hashtag #bbcsportscot or message me @bbcthomasmcg - and you can text using 80295.

  4. 1900: 

    "We've been in Europe before and had some good performances but to play a world-renowned team like Celtic, who were in the last 16 of the Champions League and beating Barcelona is beyond belief," said Breslin.

    Celtic boss Neil Lennon has expressed his displeasure at having to play a Champions League qualifier this early in the season.

    "We are the champions of our country, we reached the last 16 of the Champions League last season," said Lennon.

    "Surely there should be some sort of dispensation for clubs who do well the previous season."

  5. 1901: 

    Lennon's side will be shorn of the attacking talents of Gary Hooper in Belfast tonight. The 25-year-old, who is sidelined with a groin strain, may have played his last game for Celtic, with Norwich and Queen's Park Rangers circling overhead like striker-hungry vultures.

    Adam Matthews, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley and Virgil van Dijk are injured for the visitors, while new signing Steven Mouyokolo is unavailable.

    "We have to be as professional as we can, quell the home crowd and try to impose our game on them," said Lennon.

    "This is our first competitive game (of the season.) It's a big ask but that's where we are."


    Kieran Lennon: "Moan the Cliftonville"

  7. 1903: 

    Celtic: Forster; Lustig, Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Commons, Brown, Kayal, Forrest; Stokes, Samaras .

    Subs: Zaluska, Amido, Rogic, Irvine, McGeouch, Waters, Watt.

  8. 1904: 

    "At home anything can happen," Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce said ahead of tonight's game in North Belfast.

    "We beat Kalmar (of Sweden) here last year. They are a full-time team so we don't see why we can't beat Celtic?"

  9. 1906: 

    Former Celtic defender Stephen McManus, who has joined SPFL rivals Motherwell, is donning his BBC Sportsound pundit's hat tonight.

    "Neil Lennon has picked the strongest side which I think is the right thing to do. Scott Brown will be one of his biggest players tonight," says McManus.

    Kick off is at 19:45 BST.

  10. 1908: 

    Speaking on Tuesday, Neil Lennon said his Celtic side won't take their opponents lightly.

    "We have to be as professional as we can, quell the home crowd and try to impose our game on them," he said.

    "This is our first competitive game (of the season.) It's a big ask but that's where we are.

    "Cliftonville are a good side and we've had them watched.

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon Neil Lennon has urged his Celtic side to guard against complacency

    "Their team will be well prepared and they'll be highly motivated for this game but the Champions League is so important for us as well. It's a dangerous game and it's one we're not taking lightly..."

  11. 1910: 

    Where are you watching tonight's game? Are you heading to Solitude or finding a comfy spot on the couch?

    Let rip via Twitter using #bbcsportscot or message me @bbcthomasmcg and you can fire in a text to 80295.

  12. 1915: 

    Cliftonville: Devlin, McGovern, Caldwell, Marc Smyth, Ronan Scannell, Johnston, Gormley, Garrett, McMullan, Catney, Boyce. Subs: Brown, Martin Donnelly, McNeill, O'Carroll, Seydak, Curran, Cosgrove.

    Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Forrest, Kayal, Brown, Commons, Stokes, Samaras. Subs: Zaluska, Balde, Rogic, Watt, Irvine, McGeouch, Waters.

    Referee: Sergiy Boiko


    Sean McBride: "Frantically clicking refresh from my home in Suwon, Korea. Come on You Reds!"

    Jeffrey Tuckerman: "Watching the game tonight in the North Sea onboard the standby vessel Ocean Searcher, surrounded by crew of Rangers supporters..."

  14. 1930: 

    The video stream of tonight's Champions League qualifier will be available on our website shortly...


    Lynn Aoki: "'Mon The Hearts! From Toledo, OHIO! Melting in 91 deg F! :D"

    KevBrady44: "Thank u for the live coverage - I am Belfast-born reporter now living in Orlando - will be following u online - good luck Reds."

  16. 1940: 

    The teams make their way onto the sun-kissed pitch as supporters packed inside Solitude make an almighty din. We've missed you football, we've really missed you...

  17. 1941: 

    Handshakes all round amid that famous Champions League theme tune; slightly different from Barcelona but Belfast is pulsating.

  18. 1942: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "The atmosphere is fantastic and fans of both sides are mingling together; there's good banter and it's good to see..."

  19. 1943: 

    Apologies to those waiting patiently for our live video stream of the game. Problems across the BBC website at the moment, please bear with us.

  20. 1945: 

    We're under way in Belfast!

  21. 1946: 

    The hosts come flying out the traps like a team of Red Arrows; swarming over the Celtic defence and forcing an early free-kick.

    Liam Boyce, though, can't profit from a decent position and Celtic

  22. 1947: 

    Celtic respond immediately, James Forrest scampers down the left before dinking in a cross for Kris Commons to bullet a header on goal but it cannons back off the crossbar.

    Not a lot happening!

  23. 1948: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "Georgios Samaras looks in the mood.."

  24. 1949: 

    Forrest looks to pressurise the Cliftonville rearguard again, his run across the 18-yard box ending with a fizzing shot just over.

  25. 1950: 

    Frenetic opening five minutes with the 5,500-odd supporters inside Solitude creating a cracking, crackling atmosphere.

    Refresh the page and the video stream should be there for your delectation...

  26. 1951: 

    Cliftonville force the first corner of the game as Efe Ambrose gives the visiting defence some early jitters in the evening sun.

    But Neil Lennon's men clear their lines. It's goalless after an entertaining eight first-half minutes.


    Jeddahbhoy: "Looking out for the score here in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia! I'm about to teach so won't be able to watch it. Come on the bhoys!"

  28. 1954: 

    James Forrest feeds Anthony Stokes down the left and the Irishman sends in a low cross but Cliftonville clear. The ball zips around before Emilio Izaguirre tries to fashion a chance from the left without success.

  29. 1956: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "Very competitive and very open. Both teams are attacking and looking for goals. Credit to Cliftonville for playing two strikers. Celtic are getting their full-backs forward and James Forrest is a big threat out wide too."

  30. 1958: 

    Celtic looking rusty in the opening 15 minutes and Neil Lennon will be hoping for a bit more goalmouth action following Commons's header off the woodwork.

  31. 2000: 

    James Forrest thunders down the left - all the visitors' attacks appear to be coming down the same flank - but Cliftonville get back to snuff out the danger. Moments later Kris Commons tries to control a long ball out of the sky but can't get a shot away.

  32. 2001: 

    Efe Ambrose will have Celtic fans in full-on nerve-shredding, nail-biting, eye-rubbing Pink Panther Inspector Dreyfus mode as he loses possession before cleaning out Joe Gormley.

  33. 2004: 

    Once again Celtic look to profit down the left; again it's Emilio Izaguirre given the chance to whip in a decent cross but his deep effort drifts over the head of galloping Greek Georgios Samaras.

  34. 2005: 

    Cliftonville goalkeeper Conor Devlin executes a lovely Cruyff turn under pressure from Anthony Stokes. The Northern Irishmen don't appear too nervous...

  35. 2006: 

    Cliftonville's Jamie McGovern earns the first booking of the evening for a tackle from behind on Georgios Samaras.

    A little over 20 minutes gone of a goalless first half and Cliftonville are refusing to let Celtic settle.

  36. 2008: 
    BBC Sportsound commentator Kheredine Idessane

    "Cliftonville don't look out of place at all..."

  37. 2009: 
    GOAL- Cliftonville 0-1 Celtic Mikael Lustig (25mins)

    Celtic break the deadlock as Mikael Lustig rises above the Cliftonville defence to powerfully head home a Kris Commons cross.

  38. 2012: 

    Liam Boyce hits a snap-shot right into the arms of Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster. No rela danger this time but it shows the hosts aren't rolling over...

  39. 2014: 
    GOAL- Cliftonville 0-2 Celtic Georgios Samaras (31mins)

    Celtic double their lead as Georgios Samaras displays some neat footwork on the edge of the box before swivelling and firing a shot into the top corner beyond Devlin.

  40. 2015: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "Fantastic play. His experience for Celtic side is valuable. Exactly what Neil Lennon wants - a solid performance and a lot of attacking."


    Murray Robertson: "Samaras going down EVERY chance he gets. Nice to see a team get stuck in though..."

    Alan: "Watching in a bar in Granada, escaping the 34 degree heat at 9pm local time."

  42. 2019: 

    Ciaran Caldwell shoots over for Cliftonville but overall Celtic are looking comfortable with a two-goal cushion.


    Adam: "Don't think we should be playing a qualifying game but still should be good practice."

  44. 2022: 

    The beard goalscorer Georgios Samaras is sporting is almost as big as James Dayton's was for Kilmarnock last season!

    Anthony Stokes almost manages to wriggle free inside the box but the Cliftonville defence display Ninja-like reflexes to scramble the ball clear.

  45. 2023: 

    For the second time in the first half, Kris Commons is denied by the woodwork. He engineers some space inside the box on the left before arrowing a shot that comes back off of the post and bounces clear. Celtic are pushing hard for a third goal, with five minutes of the first half remaining.

  46. 2025: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "What a fantastic effort. I don't think the 'keeper was expecting it. It just shows you how good a player Kris Commons is and it shows how comfortable Celtic are at the moment."

  47. 2027: 

    Ironic cheers from the Cliftonville supporters as Celtic forward Anthony Stokes is flagged offside.

    Who would you say is the biggest offside culprit in football? AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi would have to be up there. I remember him, forever looking heavenward for intervention during games, after being stopped by another flag as the Milan dugout shook their heads in collective frustration.

    Any others? Tweet using the hashtag #bbcsportscot, message me @bbcthomasmcg or text 80295.

  48. 2028: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "I think Neil Lennon will just say 'more of the same' at half-time because of the desire and commitment they've shown. He'll tell them to keep their concentration and not lose any goals."

  49. 2029: 
    HALF-TIME- Cliftonville 0-2 Celtic

    Goals from Mikael Lustig and Georgios Samaras give Celtic a two-goal cushion on a glorious sunny evening in Belfast.

    Cliftonville have caused a few moments of alarm but Neil Lennon's men will be content with their opening 45 minutes.

  50. 2031: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Stephen McManus

    "You can see Efe Ambrose isn't up to full pelt as yet but he has dominated in the air. Stokes, Samaras, Forrest and Commons have been excellent for Celtic."

  51. 2032: 
    BBC Scotland pundit John Hartson

    "Forget about our pre-season form. Tonight is where it starts. I think Celtic have been superb in that first 45 minutes. They matched Cliftonville physically then began to play their football."

    Georgios Samaras celebrates for Celtic

    Georgios Samaras doubled Celtic's lead with an impressive strike at Solitude.

  53. 2045: 

    No changes for either side as the second half gets under way.


    On the issue of the worst offside culprits...

    Fraser Stewart: "Colin Nish was born in an offside position #bbcsportscot"

    Steps: "Inzaghi was born offside - in the words of SAF!!!"

  55. 2046: 

    Samaras stretches his legs and those of the Cliftonville defence with a trot down the left but his cross is easily gathered by Devlin.

  56. 2047: 

    What a chance for Cliftonville and what a howler from the Celtic defence! Fraser Forster has to race from his goal to save from Stephen Garrett after Mikael Lustig is woefully short with a header back to his keeper.


    Sam: "It has to be Christian Vieri. Sure, I remember one ref threatening to book him for the amount of offsides on Football Italia back in the day."

    Some incredible games back then and the co-commentary nuggets from Don Howe...

  58. 2051: 
    BBC Sportsound commentator Kheredine Idessane at Solitude

    "Cliftonville have come out really forcefully and purposefully at the start of this half."

  59. 2052: 

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon is far from a happy camper in his technical area. He's offering his players a bit of tactical instruction in an effort to add a bit of zest and zip following that half-time orange.

  60. 2053: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "Neil Lennon isn't best pleased because Celtic haven't strung two passes together in this second half."

  61. 2055: 

    Liam Boyce, with a lovely piece of skill, gets away from Kelvin Wilson and attempts to dink a ball into Joe Gormley but Efe Ambrose is alert to the danger. The Cliftonville fans get right behind their team in search of a goal.

  62. 2056: 

    Mikael Lustig combines with Scott Brown before whipping in a cross for Anthony Stokes. The Republic of Ireland international gets his header on target but Conor Devlin gathers. Celtic have finally woken up after a sluggish start to the second half.

  63. 2057: 

    Liam Boyce isn't doing his chances of a move to the UK mainland any harm with his performance tonight. He's relentless as he strives to create openings for his team.


    Rance: "Crespo was the most unfortunate, always played on the line and linesmen would just flag him #bbcsportscot"

    Crespo was amazing in the air. I remember an incredible looping header he scored for Inter Milan against Ajax in Amsterdam in the Champions League...


    Tony Paterson: "I can't be the only one concerned Efe Ambrose has played quite well. So far..."

  66. 2101: 

    Cliftonville press again with Ciaran Caldwell cushioning the ball down for Marc Smyth but his effort is blocked by the Celtic defence.


    Iain: "Cliftonville are a village pub side - if Celtic had any quality they'd be five or six up by now - going nowhere in Europe."

  68. 2103: 
    Ciaran Caldwell tussles with Emilio Izaguirre

    Ciaran Caldwell and his Cliftonville team-mates are pressing for a goal in the second half and reduce the deficit at Solitude.

  69. 2105: 
    BBC Sportsound commentator Kheredine Idessane

    "You'd think it was Cliftonville who are winning with the amount of singing coming from their support."


    Chunky in Inverness: "Hoops a bit rusty but the understanding will come in the next few games. Would be good if we could see Balde and Rogic in the closing stages to freshen up attack."

  71. 2107: 

    Celtic hit the woodwork for a third time this evening, Anthony Stokes rattling the bar after good work from James Forrest on the right. We've got 20 minutes remaining, can Cliftonville pull one back in front of their own fans?

    Joe Gormley is withdrawn for the hosts, to be replaced by former Celtic youth player Diarmuid O'Carroll.


    Patrick O'Byrne: "Reds were my first love but Celtic will be my last - 'reading' the game from Freetown Sierra Leone!"

  73. 2113: 

    Neil Lennon and his Celtic coaching staff discuss whether to send on Tony Watt. The striker is stripped and ready for action but is forced to cool his heels. Celtic assistant boss Johan Mjallby, sporting a nifty-looking Zoolander hairdo, has a quick tactical chat with his boss.

  74. 2115: 

    Fifteen minutes remaining and Celtic, two goals to the good, go in search of a third goal. Anthony Stokes fizzes a shot just wide.


    Text from anon: "Dear BBC, Good to see comment from "Iain" deserved publication. Scottish side 2 up away and you print a mocking text.. Rangers fan I'd guess. Joke BBC."

  76. 2117: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "What Celtic are doing just now is making the ball do the work. They're making Cliftonville chase shadows."

  77. 2118: 

    Tony Watt, on for Georgios Samaras, is beavering away in search of a shot at goal.

    Cliftonville have shuffled their pack too, with Curran replacing Garrett.

  78. 2120: 

    James Forrest dances away from the Cliftonville defence but lacks composure in front of goal and it remains 2-0 to Celtic with 10 minutes remaining.


    Anonymous: "Cliftonville are not just a village pub team. They are in the Champions League qualifying stage. Iain, I'm guessing you won't be doing much travelling in Europe for a few years yet."

    Kevin Bridges: "'Catalyst' is an endangered species of a word. Only football commentators keeping it alive."

  80. 2121: 

    Tom Rogic replaces Kris Commons and the latter will be happy with his night's work despite being denied twice by the woodwork.

  81. 2124: 
    GOAL- Cliftonville 0-3 Celtic James Forrest (84 mins)

    James Forrest slaloms away from a couple of Cliftonville challenges before firing a rasping drive beyond Conor Devlin. A third goal for the visitors and it's the last act from Forrest as he's replaced by Dylan McGeouch.

  82. 2126: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "It's rare for James Forrest not to hit the target when he shoots. A comfortable victory for Celtic and that should seal the tie now."

  83. 2130: 

    Three minutes of additional time as Cliftonville chase a consolation at the end of an entertaining encounter.

  84. 2133: 
    FULL-TIME- Cliftonville 0-3 Celtic

    Managers Tommy Breslin and Neil Lennon exchange handshakes beofre the Celtic boss applauds the supporters around the ground.

    Celtic have three away goals to take back to Glasgow ahead of next Tuesday's return leg.


    Hugh in Aberdeen: "Neil Lennon gave Cliftonville the credit they deserve."

    Iain: "Iain - Just to clarify, not a Rangers fan. Tottenham supporter man & boy and believe me, I'd rather see Celtic progress than either Wenger or Mourinhos mobs !!"


    Anonymous: "Can you keep scientific / engineering Luddites like Kevin off the BBC, catalyst is a part of my daily discourse and if he wants petrol to continue to be manufactured he better hope it stays that way."

  87. 2136: 
    BBC Scotland pundit John Hartson

    "It was comfortable in the end because of Celtic's professionalism. It could've been more but I'm sure Neil Lennon will be delighted with three."

  88. 2138: 
    BBC Sportsound pundit Peter Houston

    "Celtic will be delighted. Following their poor pre-season form, this was the game that mattered."

  89. 2145: 
    Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin

    "The players weren't overawed. It's just at this level of football if you give the ball away you'll get punished. We'll go to Celtic Park, enjoy the occasion and work hard."

  90. 2147: 
    Celtic manager Neil Lennon

    "I'm delighted with the performance and the attitude of the team. It was a very special occasion and I couldn't have asked for any more. The team came and played very well."

  91. 2153: 

    Celtic manager Neil Lennon also said there's no update on the future of striker Gary Hooper.

    The forward was ruled out of the game in Belfast with a groin strain, as Queen's Park Rangers and Norwich City aim to secure his services.

    Lennon revealed he still intends to bolster his squad before the end of August.

    James Forrest scored Celtic's third goal

    James Forrest scored Celtic's third goal to all but secure their place in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

  93. 2200: 

    Thanks for your company, tweets and texts this evening. Celtic ease to victory in their first competitive game of the new season to boost their hopes of reaching the Champions League.

    We'll be back on Tuesday for the second leg at Celtic Park. Cheers.

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