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Friday 20 September 2019

Swede feeling for the Bhoys as they're in the driving seat

UP THE BHOYS: Celtic’s James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with Scott Brown. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough
UP THE BHOYS: Celtic’s James Forrest celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with Scott Brown. Photo: Reuters/Craig Brough

Odsonne Edouard's free-kick gave Celtic a two-goal cushion to take to Sweden in their Europa League play-off against AIK.

The Frenchman curled home from 25 yards in the 73rd minute at Celtic Park to earn the Scottish champions a 2-0 first-leg triumph.

James Forrest had scored in his fifth consecutive game two minutes after the break as Celtic took a major step towards sealing a place in the group stage. The result was a much-welcome boost for manager Neil Lennon and a Celtic support still hurting from their Champions League defeat by Cluj last week.

After accusing the board of "downsizing" and "gambling 10 in a row" on Saturday, fans in the standing section had another warning for the Parkhead power-brokers. A banner demanded "Don't Sleep at Wheel" above an image of chief executive Peter Lawwell driving a car with majority shareholder Dermot Desmond in the passenger seat and Lennon in the back.

Celtic soon delivered a signing to the agitated fans with the return of goalkeeper Fraser Forster on loan from Southampton announced during the first half after Lennon revealed Scott Bain would be out for another four to six weeks with his dislocated thumb.

Craig Gordon kept his place in goal and enjoyed a comfortable evening with the Swedes rarely threatening.

Events turned fractious on and off the pitch towards the end of the first half with some of the noisy AIK supporters pushed back by stewards and police as they briefly made inroads towards the home fans.

Celtic started the second half with intent as Forrest capitalised on the break of the ball, AIK goalkeeper Oscar Linner got both hands to the winger's strike but the ball looped over his head and landed behind the goal line.

The crucial second came from one of several free-kicks Mikey Johnston won in quick succession running at the Swedes. Edouard stepped up and curled into the top corner.

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