NEIL Lennon declared himself delighted with the early promise shown by his players after they survived an early scare away to FK Sarajevo to go on and convincingly win 3-1 on their first competitive match of the season.

The second-leg of the first round Champions League qualifier in Glasgow is now a formality thanks to three good goals by Mikey Johnston, Odssone Edouard and Scott Sinclair.

In the next round, Lennon’s side will likely face FK Shkendija of Macedonia who beat Estonian outfit Nomme Kalju away from home 1-0. Both second legs take place next Tuesday.

Once Celtic got going in the Bosnian capital, they played some good football on a less than perfect pitch which made the manager a happy man.

 

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Lennon said: “I am absolutely delighted with the result and performance. It is so early in our preparation but the condition of the players, the quality of the goals in the game, was great. It was a terrific team performance.

“They were well set up tactically, we knew they would be a real danger at set-plays, which proved to be the case, and we had to dig in a little bit and once we did, we took control of the game.

“I was really pleased about how we reacted to their goal. We were a bit cagey, trying to work them out, and once we got the ball down and moved it quicker, we got a lot of joy from that.

“To score three goals away from home, no matter the level or stage, at this stage of the season is very promising.”

Johnston’s equaliser was the turning point in the match, coming as it did six minutes after Sarajevo took a shock lead.

After that, Celtic outplayed their opponents on what turned out to be one of the most impressive performances over recent years from them at this stage of the season.

Lennon said: “Mikey scored a great goal; it was great hit. Again, he did some special things in the game, so he can be delighted. It was a really important goal at that stage of the game. It settled us and we had control after that.

Evening Times:

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“Odsonne had to change his boots at half-time because the pitch was very heavy. He was slipping a little bit but looked a lot more assured in the second-half. Odsonne is a big game player. You don’t have to whip him too much to get a response from him. His finish showed great composure.

“The subs who came on all made a telling contribution in the last half hour of the game. It was a great all-round squad performance.

“We still have a job to do. We have a game at the weekend which will be important in terms of preparation of the second game in terms of those who didn’t play and the lads who are a bit behind. Hopefully we can edge them close to the level of the rest and we can gauge whether they will be ready for second leg.”

Celtic remain in the hunt for Romaine Sawyers, a creative midfielder from Brentford, and Huddersfield Town right-back Tommy Smith.

Sergio Quintero, a 20-year-old midfielder who plays for Ecuadorian club Imbabura, was quoted yesterday as saying he would be signing for Celtic over the next few days – which came as a surprise to the manager.

Lennon said: “Good luck to him on that one. If he’s a good player, then we’ll have a look. I’m not aware from any contact from our side. I don’t know where that has come from. He has not cropped up in any conversation so far.

 

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“We are looking to move in the transfer market that will help us get up and running in certain positions. The sooner we can do it, get the right type, the right quality in, the better.”

Goalscorer Johnston played his part with a superb long-range goal which came via his supposed weaker right foot.

The 20-year-old said: “I worked myself a couple of yards of space and I just hit it. I am happy with it. "I have scored some good goals so I don't know (if it’s the best), maybe. It was good to respond like that

"When you are coming away from home it is always going to be hard. The boys dug deep and we got a result and that is exactly what we wanted to take back to Celtic Park. If I keep performing well and I am training well I will get opportunities buy it is up to the manager to play me.

"The manager has trusted me to play so I need to a lot of confidence from that and scoring a goal helps."