Celtic 2 - 0 Cliftonville

Match info: Champions League Qualifying - 2nd Rnd at Celtic Park

Date: 23/07/2013 KO: 19:45 Ref: T Kinhofer Att: 29,758

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers


Efe Ambrose 16
Georgios Samaras 70



FT (ht: 1-0)

  • Last Updated: July 23 2013, 23:22 BST

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has reiterated he wants in-demand striker Gary Hooper to stay with the Scottish Premier League club.

Lennon wants Hooper stay

The forward played 25 minutes against Cliftonville on Tuesday night as Celtic cruised through to the Champions League third qualifying round with a 5-0 aggregate victory.

Hooper has been linked with Nottingham Forest after previous interest from QPR in the Championship, but Lennon has not given up hope of retaining his services.

Bhoys chief executive Peter Lawwell held discussions with the City Ground outfit earlier in the day to set out their stance on Hooper.

Lennon said: "I spoke to him today and asked him how he was feeling. He said he could do with some game-time, and that's exactly what we did.

"He's not given me any indication either way, so no news is good news on that front. If I've got him here for next week, I'll be delighted.

"It's a better squad with Gary in it. From our point of view we want him to stay, and if we can persuade him to stay we will do everything we can to do that.

"I think Peter was speaking to Nottingham today to tell them that he's not for sale, or if he is for sale they are going to have to come back with a sizeable offer.

"He was excellent tonight and he has been for the last 12 or 13 months now."

Lennon has also told Nottingham Forest they will have to improve their reported £1. 5million bid for defender Kelvin Wilson if they want to take the defender back to his former club

Lennon said: "Peter (Lawwell, chief executive) was speaking to Nottingham today to tell them he is not for sale.

"If he is for sale they are going to have to come back with a sizeable offer.

"He was excellent tonight and he has been for the last 12 or 13 months now."

After watching the comfortable victory over Cliftonville, Lennon admitted they will have to improve next week against Elfsborg.

Celtic beat HJK Helsinki and Swedish side Helsingborgs in the qualifiers last season on the way to the last 16 which is why Lennon is aware of what is required to make the same sort of progress which netted the club over £20million in prize money last season.

The Celtic boss said: "We had 30 attempts at goal so our shooting wasn't at its best, we were a bit rusty in that department.

"I thought our back four looked good, it is a couple of clean sheets but we will have to improve a lot for next week.

"We will have to be better with the movement and crisper with the passing and obviously be a little bit more clinical in front of goal

"Judging by Helsingborgs, if that is a barometer, it is going to be a big step up.

"We will have them watched at the weekend and try to cover everything we can between now and next Wednesday.

"But a week is a long time in pre-season and the players know what is at stake."

The former Celtic skipper, though, is not depending entirely on taking a lead over to Sweden.

He said: "We will try to take the game to Elfsborg and try to put them under pressure.

"A clean sheet will be a huge bonus but this team and these players can score away from home.

"Even if the result isn't brilliant or is in the balance we know we can go there and get a result.

"I think the experience of last season will stand them in good stead."

Reds boss Tommy Breslin was glad his side left Glasgow with their pride intact.

He said: "We had a go at Solitude last week but tonight was about damage limitation.

"There was always a fear that we were going to be lambs to the slaughter but they stood up well and their pride wasn't going to let them down.

"I am proud that I have represented Cliftonville in Champions League and played at Celtic Park.

"I am still disappointed in the two goals we lost but in weeks, months and years to come, you will appreciate what has happened.

"We want to win domestic trophies and get back to this again. At times we didn't look out of place."

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