Europa League - Qualifying Play-offs - 2nd Leg
AIK1Celtic4

AIK 1-4 Celtic: Neil Lennon's men stroll into Europa League group stage

James Forrest
James Forrest's early goal started Celtic off on the path to victory

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.

James Forrest

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.

Line-ups

AIK

  • 34Linnér
  • 2Granli
  • 3Karlsson
  • 14MetsBooked at 53mins
  • 15LundströmSubstituted forRashidiat 79'minutes
  • 7Larsson
  • 8Kofi AduBooked at 51mins
  • 11BahouiBooked at 8minsSubstituted forHusseinat 62'minutes
  • 16Salétros
  • 10Obasi
  • 30SigthorssonSubstituted forGoitomat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Dimitriadis
  • 9Lindkvist
  • 18Hussein
  • 20Elyounoussi
  • 23Janosevic
  • 24Rashidi
  • 36Goitom

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 35AjerSubstituted forRalstonat 15'minutes
  • 2Jullien
  • 6BittonBooked at 30mins
  • 23Bolingoli-Mbombo
  • 8BrownBooked at 51mins
  • 42McGregorBooked at 51mins
  • 49Forrest
  • 19JohnstonSubstituted forMorganat 70'minutes
  • 17Christie
  • 22EdouardBooked at 71minsSubstituted forBayoat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Bayo
  • 15Hayes
  • 16Morgan
  • 21Ntcham
  • 56Ralston
  • 65Hazard
Referee:
Nikola Dabanovic
Attendance:
28,410

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 29th August 2019

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Leverkusen6411169713
2Zürich631276110
3AEK Larnaca6123612-65
4Ludogorets604257-24

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1RB Salzburg66001761118
2Celtic630368-29
3RB Leipzig62139817
4Rosenborg6015414-101

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Zenit St Petersburg632165111
2Slavia Prague631243110
3Bordeaux62136607
4FC Copenhagen612335-25

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dinamo Zagreb6420113814
2Fenerbahçe62227708
3Spartak Trnava621347-37
4Anderlecht603327-53

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Arsenal65101221016
2Sporting64111331013
3Vorskla Poltava6105413-93
4FK Qarabag6105213-113

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Betis633072512
2Olympiakos6312116510
3AC Milan6312129310
4F91 Dudelange6015316-131

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Villarreal6240125710
2Rapid Vienna631269-310
3Rangers61328806
4Spartak Moscow6123812-45

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Frankfurt66001751218
2Lazio6303911-29
3Apollon Limassol6213101007
4Marseille6015616-101

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1KRC Genk6321148611
2Malmö FF62317619
3Besiktas6213911-27
4Sarpsborg 086123813-55

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sevilla64021861212
2FK Krasnodar640288012
3Standard Liege631279-210
4Akhisarspor6015414-101

K

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dynamo Kiev6321107311
2Rennes630378-19
3FC Astana62227708
4FK Jablonec612368-25

L

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea6510123916
2BATE Borisov63039909
3MOL Vidi621357-27
4PAOK Salonika6105512-73
View full Europa League tables

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