AIK 1-4 Celtic: Neil Lennon's men stroll into Europa League group stage
Celtic thumped AIK to reach the Europa League group stage and alleviate some of the pain of their Champions League exit at the hands of CFR Cluj.
James Forrest's effort was cancelled out by a Sebastien Larsson penalty, but an own goal from goalkeeper Oscar Linner, and strikes from Christopher Jullien and Lewis Morgan secured a 6-1 aggregate win in Stockholm.
Despite an early scare when Kolbeinn Sigthorsson hit a post after just two minutes, the Scottish champions' safe passage never looked under threat.
However, the evening was not without its worries for Neil Lennon as he lost Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard to injury with Sunday's Old Firm game looming. Fans and police also clashed in the stands.
It is the second time in successive seasons Celtic have competed in the Europa League group stage after dropping out of the Champions League qualifiers.
The draw will take place at 12:00 BST on Friday.
Forrest inspires Euro charge again
To the uninitiated, Celtic already had one foot in the Europe League group stage. For those who know Scottish football well, history told us the journey to Stockholm would be potentially littered with dangers as Lennon attempted to salvage the club's European season after that defeat by Romanian champions Cluj.
Three years ago the Parkhead side survived a second-leg onslaught in Israel that almost allowed Hapoel Be'er Sheva to beat them to a Champions League spot. Two years ago, a staggering 4-3 defeat was inflicted by Astana after the Kazakhs were pummelled 5-0 in Glasgow.
Even in Lennon's previous tenure, it took a Forrest strike at the death to overcome Shakhter Karagandy to reach Europe's top competition in 2013.
Almost exactly six years on - one day out - Forrest was the main protagonist in another rousing night for Celtic in Europe. This was a victory that was started and pretty much finished by the Scotland winger.
It was his genius in the 17th minute that settled early Celtic nerves. Just a few minutes on from Sigthorsson scudding the base of Craig Gordon's post, Forrest embarked on a marauding charge on the counter. A one-two with Edouard unlocked the AIK defence, who stood static as the winger turned on his left and guided a lofted shot beyond Linner.
Celtic were in complete control when Boli Bolingoli, not for the first time this season, caused palpitations with a challenge that, at its very best, was clumsy. A high punt into the Celtic box caught the left-back ball watching, causing him to clatter Larsson to the deck. The Swede dusted himself down to send Craig Gordon the wrong way. Game on.
A minute later, game over. Mikey Johnston did the leg work for the Scottish champions. A jinking run saw him beat one man. Then two. Then three. After a cute cutback along the bye-line, Linner attempted to grab the ball but only succeeded in diverting it into his own net.
The second half lapsed into the perfunctory category for the visitors, who conceded two further goals late on. Jullien and Scott Brown both attempted to scramble Ryan Christie's low cutback into the net, with the former getting the credit, while that man Forrest provided a delicious dink to the back post for substitute Morgan to head into the net.
For Lennon, his focus will now shift to Sunday's trip to Ibrox and the selection headaches he faces. He may well be without both Ajer and Edouard for the meeting with Rangers, while Bolingoli continues to look a bag of nerves at left-back. Can the Belgian defender be trusted in that cauldron?
At least for now, though, the Celtic manager can content himself with a job well done in Sweden, and look forward Friday's group stage draw.
'I'm surprised how poor AIK were' - analysis
Former Scotland midfielder Michael Stewart on Sportsound
AIK just disintegrated. I'm surprised how poor they became and how easy it was for Celtic in the end. But I'm not surprised Celtic have had more than enough to qualify. It's a very convincing aggregate score over the Swedish champions.
- 14MetsBooked at 53mins
- 15LundströmSubstituted forRashidiat 79'minutes
- 8Kofi AduBooked at 51mins
- 11BahouiBooked at 8minsSubstituted forHusseinat 62'minutes
- 30SigthorssonSubstituted forGoitomat 62'minutes
- 35AjerSubstituted forRalstonat 15'minutes
- 6BittonBooked at 30mins
- 8BrownBooked at 51mins
- 42McGregorBooked at 51mins
- 19JohnstonSubstituted forMorganat 70'minutes
- 22EdouardBooked at 71minsSubstituted forBayoat 76'minutes
- Nikola Dabanovic