Celtic will take on Sarajevo in Bosnia in the Europa League playoffs after both sides won their respective third qualifying round ties tonight.
The Hoops managed to see off Riga with an edgy 1-0 win thanks to a late goal from Mohamed Elyounoussi. Sarajevo, however, have just overcome Buducnost Podgorica with a 2-1 win of their own at their home ground.
That means that both sides have set-up a tasty-looking repeat of their Champions League qualifier from last season. Celtic have been drawn away from home.
Neil Lennon’s Hoops managed to overcome the Bosnians 5-2 on aggregate in the first qualifying round of Europe’s premier club competition last year.
That included a 3-1 win away from home, and Lennon’s men will be looking to produce something similar when the two sides meet next week.
Unfortunately for Celtic, the tie, similar to the third qualifying round with Riga, will also just be a one-legged shoot-out. The Champions League playoffs have been kept at two legs this season, but the Europa continues to be completed over one.
The rematch is on
Sarajevo’s record in Europe this season has seen them win two and lose one. They started off their Champions League qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win at Connah’s Quay Nomads, before losing 2-1 away to Dinamo Brest in the second round.
That saw them drop into the third qualifying round of the Europa League – the same path Celtic took. And their win against Podgorica has set up a trickier clash than Lennon would’ve liked.
Sarajevo managed to win the Bosnian Premier League by three points last season, as they continued their domestic dominance. Lennon will be wary of the fact that they also came close to nabbing a draw in the second leg at Celtic Park last year.
As we found out tonight in Riga, nobody can be taken for granted in the Europa League. However, Celtic will still be looking for a more comfortable route through than they managed this evening.
The tie will be played next Thursday (October 1st), with the kick-off time to be finalised.