Celtic on course for group stage

  • Last Updated: August 21 2012, 23:04 BST

Celtic took a giant step closer to the Champions League group stages with a superb 2-0 win over Helsingborg in the first leg of their play-off at the Olympia Stadium in Sweden.

  • Samaras celebrates his goal for Celtic
  • Kris Commons scored the first with this volley 

Kris Commons, who grabbed a last-gasp equaliser at Ross County in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League on Saturday, volleyed the visitors into the lead with less than two minutes on the clock following a cross from Georgios Samaras.

Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a series of saves as the Swedish champions fought back but in the 75th minute Samaras put Celtic in the driving seat for next week's second leg in Glasgow when he headed in a Commons corner.

Neil Lennon's side might have rode their luck at times but they could have won by more in the end and now face the tantalising prospect of mixing with the elite clubs in Europe for the first time since the 2008/09 season.

  • Neil Lennon looks on as his Hoops side take the upper hand against their Swedish hosts.
  • Helsingborgs' Loret Sadiku vies for the ball with Bhoys man Gary Hooper.
  • Georgios Samaras put Celtic's win beyond doubt in the 75th minute with their second of the night.
  • Spartak Moscow's Ari battles with former Liverpool man Dirk Kuyt of Fenerbahce, who cancelled out Emmanuel Emenike's opener.
  • Russia international Dmitri Kombarov was on target with the winner for Spartak as the home side triumphed 2-1.
  • Borussia Monchengladbach opened an early lead against Dynamo Kiev thanks to Alexander Ring's strike.
  • Dynamo Kiev celebrate Taras Mykhalyk's first-half equaliser for the visitors at Borussia Park Stadium, which paved the way for a 3-1 win.
  • FC Copenhagen's Cesar Santin broke the deadlock in the 38th minute at home to Ligue 1 side Lille.
  • Santin is congratulated by his team-mates after his strike turns out to be the winner in a 1-0 triumph.
All the best pictures from Tuesday's UEFA Champions League qualifying play-off round action, including Helsingborgs v Celtic.

After the game Lennon claimed Forster deserves an England call-up after keeping an invaluable clean sheet in Sweden.

"Fraser's done his chances (of an England call-up) no harm tonight," Lennon said on ITV1.

"I said you'd have an audience tonight and to go and show them how good you are.

"I thought he was excellent tonight. We've been banging the drum about him for a while, but it's not for us to say."

Lennon admitted his side had been flattered by a scoreline that leaves them in pole position to progress ahead of the return leg at Celtic Park next week.

"The job is only half done. There is a big game at Celtic Park to come. Helsingborg showed how dangerous they can be."