Kris Commons headed Celtic to a slender 1-0 win over Elfsborg in the first leg of their Champions League third round qualifier at Celtic Park.
The attacking midfielder arrived in the visiting box 13 minutes from time to head into the net from Emilio Izaguirre's cross as the Swedish champions' resistance finally buckled.
Neil Lennon's side were worth their win on the night, and will be relieved to escape from the evening with a 1-0 win against a side who subjected the outstanding Georgios Samaras to some heavy treatment with a series of late tackles.
Eight players were booked with Johan Larsson somehow escaping with only a yellow after a wretched late tackle on Samaras in the second half when he clearly kicked the Greece forward.
Elfsborg sat deep and hit on the break, but the nearest they came to an away goal was a 22-yard effort from Anders Svensson that was tipped onto the bar by home goalkeeper Fraser Forster before half-time.
James Forrest also knocked a shot against the bar in the first half for Celtic before the Hoops assumed control in the second period. Celtic had 11 attempts at the visiting goal with Elfsborg managing only two including the Svensson attempt.
Lennon's side found it much tougher than in the previous round win over Northern Irish part-timers Cliftonville but was delighted with the result, and felt avoiding conceding an away goal was vital on the night.
Samaras had a shot saved by the visiting goalkeeper Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard at the outset of the second half while the Greece striker also saw an effort cleared off the line, but Commons's winner gives them breathing space for the return leg.
Mo Bangura - on loan from Celtic - started for the visitors as a lone striker, but endured a tough evening before being replaced late in the game. Derk Boerrigter, signed from Ajax, was left watching in the stands as he awaits a chance to make his debut.
The return leg will be hosted by Elfsborg on their artificial surface at the Boras Arena next Wednesday.
They have not lost a match on their home pitch since September 2011, but a draw will be no use to them to continue their progress in this tournament.
A place in the final play-off round before the Champions League group stages remains at stake for the winners.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Georgios Samaras (Celtic): Superb performance from Samaras, who was singled out for some brutal treatment but stuck to his task well. Unfortunate to be booked for an off-the-ball incident with an opposing player.
- Sports & Recreation
- Georgios Samaras
- Kris Commons
- Neil Lennon
- Celtic Park