Celtic secure Champions League spot

Goals from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama saw Celtic ease past Helsingborg 4-0 on aggregate and into the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since the 2008/09 season.

Celtic secure Champions League spot

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Celtic's Gary Hooper (L) celebrates his goal against Helsingborgs with Georgios Samaras

Neil Lennon's men took a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their play-off against the Swedish side and Hooper's close-range strike on the half-hour mark, albeit from what looked like an offside position, effectively ended the contest.

Two minutes from time Wanyama headed in a Kris Commons cross to put gloss on a fine victory and confirm the Hoops' place in tomorrow's draw in Monaco.

Celtic will face tougher challenges ahead but the boost from the club's participation in European football's elite club competition, both in terms of finance and morale, and in lifting the profile of the game in Scotland, cannot be underestimated.

With 30 minutes gone, visiting goalkeeper Per Hansson had to stretch to ensure Georgios Samaras' cross did not creep under the bar but penalty-box poacher Hooper struck from the resultant corner.

Commons played a short pass to James Forrest, whose driven cross from the bye-line was cleared only to Scott Brown outside the box. When the Scotland midfielder's mis-hit shot arrived at Samaras, he casually helped the ball on to the former Scunthorpe striker, who knocked in from close range and allowed others to debate a possible offside.

As the game stretched further in the closing stages, Alejandro Bedoya twice threatened the Hoops goal and Hansson made saves from Brown and Hoops substitute Tony Watt before Wanyama headed in Commons' cross with two minutes remaining.

There was time for Forrest to blaze over the bar in a Celtic break but, by that time, Lennon and the Celtic fans were thinking ahead to Thursday's draw and which three clubs will be visiting the east end of Glasgow in the next stage of the tournament.

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