Celtic was dreadful, but so was Helsingborg’s finishing, allowing the Scottish champions to run out of Sweden’s Olympia Stadion with a 2-0 (and two crucial away goals) first leg win in the third qualifying round of the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League.
The home side paid the ultimate price for their profligacy in front of goal as Samaras headed home a Commons corner to seal the 2-0 win 15 minutes from time.
Celtic center half Adam Matthews was inexplicably dispossessed in the center circle by May Mahlangu, giving him a breakaway, but the defender dilly-dallied on the ball allowing Matthews to make amends for his mistake.
For the neutral, this was the best thing that could happen to the game as Helsingborg coach Age Hareide said beforehand that his side was going to play for a 0-0 result,Sean Lee Jersey. New plans had to be drawn up now that Swedes were chasing the game.
First, American international,Graham Harrell Jersey, Alejandro Bedoya got free in the right channel only to shoot at the feet of Fraser Forster.
The visitors did get a dream start as Georgios Samaras crossed for Kris Commons to finish with a spectacular volley at the back post inside two minutes.
Thomas Sorum was then played in alone on goal but Forster did well to stay on his feet as Sorum tried to chip him with the goal at his mercy.
The Scottish champions (and presumably champions elect for this season) early goal did not spark the visitors into life. Instead of building on the early lead, the green and white sat back and let Helsingborg come at them in waves. With the attack nonexistent and the back four disjointed,Clay Matthews Packers Jersey, Celtic limped into halftime with the 1-0 lead courtesy of some good goalkeeping by Forster and poor finishing by the opposition,Dwight Freeney Jersey.
One bright spot for Celtic was the introduction at halftime of James Forrest for Baram Kayal. The youngster provided positive energy and endeavor out on the left and was a danger for the Neil Lennon’s men on the counter attack.
The home side jolted into action, taking advantage of sloppy play in the Celtic midfield. Three times, the Scots needlessly lost the ball in the center of the park and were consequently carved open by some slick passing.
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The second half started as the first ended. Helsingborg continued to create chances, only for their shooting to let them down. When they did put something on target, Forster was on song,Jarrett Bush Jersey.
Samaras’ header turned a poor performance into a “professional” one as Celtic now takes a sizable advantage into the return leg at Celtic Park next Wednesday.
Celtic have one foot into the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, but as Soccer 365's Marc Serber explains, the Scottish champions rode their luck in Sweden
For Helsingborg, Bedoya did well in just his second game since returning to Sweden from Rangers,Patrick Kane Jersey. The New Jersey native had a shot well saved by Forster in the 16th and a header turned away in the 73rd. In addition to creating chances, Bedoya also made clever runs and was solid in possession.
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