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Hoops find ruthless touch to keep Euro mission on track

Celtic 2 FK Sarajevo 1

Happy Hoops: Ryan Christie (right) celebrates his goal last night with Kristoffer Ajer
Happy Hoops: Ryan Christie (right) celebrates his goal last night with Kristoffer Ajer

By Andy Newport

Celtic eased into the Champions League second qualifying round thanks to goals from Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor against Sarajevo at Parkhead.

Mersudin Ahmetovic had the ball in the net for the visitors but was caught offside before Christie's clinical finish was reward for Celtic dominance.

Ahmetovic set up Benjamin Tatar to equalise after the break.

But McGregor's long-range response ensured a 5-2 aggregate win and a meeting with Nomme Kalju of Estonia.

Celtic will host the first leg next Wednesday against the side who surprised Macedonian champions Shkendija on Tuesday to progress on away goals.

Meanwhile, Hoops boss Neil Lennon admits Jose Cifuentes is on Celtic's signing radar but insists there has been no concrete move for the Ecuador youth international.

The Hoops boss is on the search for new players and the 20-year-old midfielder is a name who could potentially be in the mix.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is believed to be keen to sign the player before sending him on loan to feeder club Girona.

Reports in the player's homeland suggest Celtic are winning the race for his signature but the former Northern Ireland international says any talk of an impending deal are wide of the mark. Lennon said: "I can't confirm there is an interest. Again, it's a player who we know very little about but one that has come up on the radar so that's all I can say on that one." Earlier this month Cifuentes claimed he was close to deciding whether to join Celtic or Manchester City.

He said: "My aim is to play in Europe. I don't know which club I will sign for yet - either Manchester City or Celtic.

"Nothing has been decided yet.

"I deserve my opportunity to play in Europe, it's where I have to be. And my mentality is that I am going to be in Europe for a long time."

Cifuentes impressed during the Under-20s World Cup where his Ecuador team surprisingly reached the semi-final in Poland this summer.

Belfast Telegraph


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