sport news Celtic news: Celtic 2-1 Sarajevo (5-2 agg): Hoops progress in Champions League ...

As transfer talk continues to swirl around Kieran Tierney, this became an occasion for some of Celtic's other gifted Scots to deliver little statements about their own sizeable value.

Neil Lennon’s men didn’t have it entirely their own way against opponents who were brutal in some of their challenges. 

Even so, goals in each half from Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor ensured a first home victory of the new campaign confirmed progression to the second round of the Champions League qualifiers. 

Celtic took the lead after 26 minutes when Ryan Christie swept home clinically

Celtic took the lead after 26 minutes when Ryan Christie swept home clinically

Sarajevo leveled on the night when Benjamin Tatar swept home from inside the box

Sarajevo leveled on the night when Benjamin Tatar swept home from inside the box

Callum McGregor ensured the win for Celtic by firing a low shot home late on in the tie

A first competitive appearance for Leigh Griffiths since December 8 - replacing Odsonne Edouard for the final ten minutes - added a further positive note. Loudly cheered as he warmed up earlier in the evening, the Scotland striker has taken another important step forward following a lengthy sabbatical to deal with mental health issues.

Christie's previous campaign was ended prematurely for a very different reason. But now that multiple facial fractures sustained in a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen have been fully repaired, he is clearly keen to remind how much more attractive he can make this Parkhead side. 

The 24-year-old re-opened his account with the breakthrough goal in a first half regularly shaped by clever promptings. Christie was a worthy recipient of the sponsor's man of the match award.

James Forrest attempts to dance his way through the Sarajevo defence

James Forrest attempts to dance his way through the Sarajevo defence 

Celtic wonderkid Karamoko Dembele was at the game but did not feature on the bench

Celtic wonderkid Karamoko Dembele was at the game but did not feature on the bench

Collective standards slipped for a spell after the break - and FK Sarajevo claiming an equaliser after being gifted possession by Parkhead newcomer Boli Bolingoli. It would not, however, prove too costly a slip.

McGregor, that most dependable of homegrown talents, stepped forward with a 77th minute strike that polished off a tie effectively settled with victory in Bosnia last week.

It means Celtic will play Nomme Kalju in the home leg of their next qualifier next Wednesday before the return match in Estonia the following Tuesday. Lennon will hope to see a further increase in performance levels by then - and perhaps one or two more additions to a squad still short in certain departments.

The Parkhead manager had demanded no concessions to complacency in his pre-match words, recalling how, in his playing days, Celtic had only scraped through against Ajax after a 3-1 first leg away win. Sarajevo, however, are no equivalent to the Dutch masters.

Sarajevo manager Husref Musemic issues instructions from the sidelines

Sarajevo manager Husref Musemic issues instructions from the sidelines

Lennon would have felt control of the opening period was pretty sound. Any flickers of anxiety passed briefly and Scott Bain remained wholly underworked. When Celtic began to express their attacking imagination, it was all but inevitable their advantage would increase.

That outcome took 26 minutes to arrive. While far from perfect in possession, it had been a case of gradually growing in composure to deplete what little reserves of belief the Bosnians had left. 

The biggest scare arrived shortly after kick-off when Sarajevo striker Mersudin Ahmetovic was flagged offside a couple of seconds before clipping the ball into the net.

Neil Lennon's side secured comfortable progress to the next qualifying round

Neil Lennon's side secured comfortable progress to the next qualifying round

MATCH FACTS

CELTIC: Bain, Ajer, Bitton, Simunovic, Morgan (Sinclair 87), Forrest, Brown, Christie (Henderson

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