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2000-09-14: Celtic 2-0 HJK Helsinki, UEFA Cup
|Match Pictures | Matches: 2000 - 2001 | 2000-01 Pictures|
- Celtic opened talks with Blackburn Rovers over the potential move of Eyal Berkovic. The initial plan from Souness was for Christian Dailly to move in the opposite direction. The plans to include Dailly as part of the transfer deal were played down by Celtic.
- The move for Shay Given fell flat on it’s face when he signed a new improved contract at Newcastle Utd.
ReviewA frustrating night where after an opening two goal blitz the team were unable to increase their advantage – something that would come to haunt them in the second leg.
Gould, Mjallby, Boyd, Valgaeren, McNamara, Lambert, Petrov, Moravcik (Berkovic 78), Mahe (Healy 52), Larsson, Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Kerr, Burchill, Riseth, Rafael, Miller.
Goals: Larsson 14, 25.
Vieander, Turpeinen, Nylund, Nyeremenko (Haarala 81), Kallio, Saarinen, Heikkinen, Hakanpaa, Kuivasto, Viera (Moraes 78), Yla-Jussila (Paulus 60).
Subs Not Used: Wallen, Kokkonen, Kunnas, Kopteff.
Booked: Nylund (HJK)
Referee: D Drabek (Austria).
Managers Comments:Martin O’Neill post match:
"At half-time I was very pleased with the 2-0 score and thought we had done very well. I'd have settled not to lose a goal against a team that was dangerous on the break. There were uncomfortable moments, especially in the second half, but I told the players before the game to forget the idea of scoring four or five goals. There was a certain amount of tiredness in the second half, and I think it was that, and that alone, that prevented us from going further ahead."
"It doesn't always flow. What was vitally important was not to lose an away goal. Now it is in our favour. They have some quick talented players and I did not expect to dominate for the whole game against a decent side."
Jyrki Heliskoski, HJK manager: "We had problems at the beginning because we are not used to that speed of game. Our players were eager but also a little nervous, but it was a very fine experience for them. Our biggest problem was Larsson, but little by little we got better. It is a different level, but we were trying to get a goal which would have made it much better for us in the return. But we will have a full house in our 11,000 capacity ground and it should be another nice experience."
- Match Report (see below)
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THAT'LL DO JUST FINNDaily Record 15/09/2000
CELTIC 2 HJK HELSINKI 0
CELTIC have one foot in the second round of the UEFA Cup after doing what they had to do against HJK Helsinki last night.
Two Henrik Larsson strikes in the first 25 minutes were enough to see off the Finns but Martin O'Neill's team was unable to get close to the high standard of recent weeks. Still, they take a two-goal lead to the Finnish capital in a fortnight and they kept a clean sheet, which is much more important in this competition than it is in the Champions League.
At times in the second half, the 40,000 who arrived expecting a public execution howled their disapproval of the team's inability to keep the goals coming. But it would take a catastrophic dip from a team that has now won 10 straight games under their new boss to stop them progressing.
Helsinki were hard-working and functional but this Celtic side can be hard-working and exceptional. Last night they were only one of the two but it should still be enough. O'Neill kept team changes to a minimum, although defender Alan Stubbs, as expected, failed to recover from a knee injury in time. Johan Mjallby replaced him and there was a place also for Stephane Mahe due to Alan Thompson being ineligible. Otherwise, it was business as usual, which meant Eyal Berkovic again cooling his heels on the bench. At least Rafael made it from the stand to the touchline this time out.
The Finns are used to playing in front of crowds of less than 5000 but they've played in a big arenas often enough recently not to have been shaking in their boots at the prospect of performing at Parkhead. They certainly did not start like rabbits caught in the headlamps. In fact, they moved the ball about rather well and it was Celtic who were uncharacteristically slow to get into top gear. That may have been down to the lethargy among the supporters at kick-off. There was another good crowd but for the first 10 minutes or so they were prepared to sit and watch rather than shout.
HJK produced the first real moment of note nine minutes in. Their Brazilian striker Rafael turned inside Joos Valgaeren expertly and rifled in a low shot that Jonathan Gould was happy to parry to safety. It was the best piece of action the Celtic supporters had ever seen from a player of that name. The forward thrust of the Finns also shook Celtic out of their lethargy, although perhaps the site of manager O'Neill scurrying into the opposition technical area to retrieve a ball also helped.
Valgaeren wasn't far away with a looped header from a Lubo Moravcik free-kick before Celtic broke the deadlock after 15 minutes.
Anyone who has watched this team recently won't be surprised that the scorer was Larsson. It was only his eighth start of the season but the second he anticipated where Jackie McNamara's cross would arrive, his ninth goal was being racked up. A snap of the neck muscles from 12 yards out and Celtic were off and running. While Larsson took the plaudits, several of his team-mates ran to hail Mjallby, who had started the move with a crunching tackle before releasing McNamara for the cross.
HJK could count themselves unlucky to be behind at this stage but they attempted to respond immediately and Gould was called into action for a second time, getting down to smother a Toni Kallio shot. It was another good save from a man who has yet to let his boss down.
Larsson had another header stopped by Jani Viander in the 24th minute but the second goal was delayed by only 60 seconds - and when it came, it was a cracker. Moravcik and Chris Sutton were surrounded by defenders on the edge of the box but the Slovak found his mate with a deft flick and the Englishman in turn slipped a reverse ball into the path of Larsson.
The angle of delivery completely threw the Finnish defence and Larsson was left with just Viander to beat, which he did with a clinical right-foot shot. Celtic were two up and just a goal away from hitting cruise control. Larsson did his best to make it a hat-trick before the break, swerving a 22-yard free-kick just over the bar after Ville Nylund's tackle on Stilian Petrov had produced a yellow card.
Helsinki came out after the break looking for the away goal that would put them back in the tie. They forced Celtic to defend deep for a fair spell but in throwing men forward they looked susceptible to the counter-attack. Celtic made a change five minutes after the restart, sending on Colin Healy for Mahe, and right away the youngster added impetus, winning an early tackle and setting up Moravcik for a shot that flew wide.
Celtic almost lost a goal in the 57th minute. Janne Saarinen burst from deep, played a slick one-two with Rafael and found himself with just Gould to beat. The keeper advanced and blocked the effort for a corner, which Boyd cleared, and Celtic had survived a moment of real anxiety. A couple of minutes later, Kallio caused another with a dipping shot that was a couple of feet too high. That prompted a similar effort from Moravcik at the other end.
A third goal would surely have killed the tie but Celtic were keeping one eye on the back door rather than going for the jugular. HJK made a change, replacing busy midfielder Sami Yla-Jussila with Roiha Paulus. The visitors had Celtic in trouble in the 71st minute, charging down the left side and getting the ball into the box for Paulus and Rafael to have a couple of swings at it before Mjallby and Gould somehow got it away between them.
The Celtic support hadn't come to see this kind of thing and a growl of discontent started to rumble round the stadium. A head knock sustained by Larsson had 40,455 fans collectively holding their breath but the Swede recovered and when a switch was made it was Moravcik who went off, allowing Berkovic to make a rare appearance.
HJK threw on their second Brazilian, Luiz Antonio Moraes, for compatriot Rafael, who was playing his last game for the club before his move to Dutch club Herenveen. Berkovic was out to make an impression and he cleverly sent Petrov in on goal with a bit of sleight of foot on the edge of the box. The Bulgarian rounded the keeper but was forced to the byeline and his cutback found no takers.
Saarinen, who was part of the Gothenburg team that beat Rangers in Europe a few years back, tested Gould again with a raging shot that the keeper was happy to palm high into the air nine minutes from time. At this stage a goal from HJK looked just as likely as a third for the Scots but O'Neill's men held on to their advantage.
PA Sport Match Report
Celtic 2 HJK Helsinki 0 By Chris Roberts, PA SportSwedish striker Henrik Larsson proved again on Thursday night he was the man for the big occasion with a superb double to give Celtic a comfortable lead to take to Finland in a fortnight's time.
The home side were far from their best, but Larsson's quality again came to the surface to take his season tally to 10 in nine games and put his side in a strong position in the UEFA Cup first-round tie.
The result also gave manager Martin O'Neill his 10th victory in a row but the Irishman would not have been happy with some of his side's play as the Finnish outfit could even have been returning home with a vital away goal in the bag.
But as the fuel crisis appears to be nearing an end in Glasgow it was the Swedish star who supplied the firepower to keep the Celtic bandwagon rolling on.
Celtic, however, almost suffered the worst possible start at Parkhead after just eight minutes when the Finnish outfit almost snatched the lead and a valuable goal.
Departing striker Rafael Pires Viera was given room to cut into the area from the right before unleashing a powerful left-foot shot that goalkeeper Jonathan Gould had to save low to his right.
Celtic were sent out with the instructions to be patient but this scare brought around a more urgent approach and in the 12th minute Stephane Mahe crossed for Sutton, but the striker's glancing header went just wide.
A minute later and Celtic went close again when Joos Valgaeren rose above the Helsinki defence to head Lubo Movavcik's free-kick just over the bar.
The opener, however, was not long in coming and it was Larsson again who provided the magic finish to put his side into the lead.
Johan Mjallby played the ball to Jackie McNamara on the right and the Scotland international provided a pin-point cross that the Swede stretched to head emphatically home.
But Celtic and Larsson's night, in particular, was about to get even better in the 26th minute when he doubled their lead.
Moravcik found Sutton on the edge of the box and the £6million striker threaded ball through to the Swede, who drew goalkeeper Jani Viander before lifting the ball coolly over his body.
Celtic continued to pressure the Finnish defence and Larsson was looking for his hat-trick in the 43rd minute when Sutton won a free-kick just outside the area.
Helsinki defender Ville Nylund was booked as a result and the Swede stepped up for his moment of glory, but curled a right-foot effort over the crossbar.
Celtic struggled to find their rhythm after the break, but the Finns came out more positive and fired a warning in the 57th minute.
Finnish international midfielder Janne Saarinen found Rafael in the box and it took a fine save from Gould to stop the visitors from grabbing a vital away goal.
Two minutes later and Toni Kallio tried his luck from long-range but Gould was relieved to watch his effort sail over the bar.
O'Neill tried to fire his side up from the touchline and on the hour they almost created their third goal when Moravcik crossed from the left but defender Toni Kuivasto headed over with Sutton lurking with intent at the back post.
But Celtic still needed a goal to settle their defence down as Helsinki were causing a number of problems on the counter-attack.
In the 70th minute confusion in the home box almost proved Celtic's downfall when Saarinen crossed from the left causing some hesitancy from Mjallby and Gould and substitute Roiha Paulus could have capitalised with the keeper off his line, but Valgaeren cleared the danger.
But the introduction of Eyal Berkovic, who has attracted interest from Blackburn, in the 76th minute gave the home side a much-needed spark.
And in the 79th minute they almost increased their advantage when Sutton played Stilian Petrov through for the Bulgarian to skip past the keeper but he pulled the ball too far behind the outstretched striker.
But the threat from the visitors just would not go away and in the 83rd minute Gould had to be alert to save a fierce drive from Saarinen.
Celtic still pressed for the goal that certainly kill the tie off and Larsson found Berkovic in the last minute with acres of space, but the Israeli dragged his shot wide of the post.
That would have given the Finns no chance of progressing to the second round of the competition but at 2-0 they might still fancy their chances of a shock in the return leg.
Celtic: Gould, Mjallby, Boyd, Valgaeren, McNamara, Lambert, Petrov, Moravcik (Berkovic 78), Mahe (Healy 52), Larsson,Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Kerr, Burchill, Riseth, Rafael, Miller.
Goals: Larsson 14, 25.
HJK Helsinki: Vieander, Turpeinen, Nylund, Nyeremenko (Haarala 81), Kallio, Saarinen, Heikkinen, Hakanpaa, Kuivasto, Viera (Moraes 78), Yla-Jussila (Paulus 60).
Subs Not Used: Wallen, Kokkonen, Kunnas, Kopteff.
Ref: D Drabek (Austria).
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