CELTIC will face Sarajevo in the play-off in Bosnia on Thursday as they attempt to gatecrash the Europa League group stages.
A late, late strike by Mohamed Elyounoussi eventually saw off the battling Latvians of FC Riga last night just when it looked like it would end in a scoreless stalemate in the regulation 90 minutes and head into extra-time at the Skonto stadium.
Sarajevo also faced an uphill battle to reach the next stage and home advantage told when they overcame Montenegro outfit Buducnost Podgorica 2-1.
The Hoops, of course, met the Bosnians in a Champions League qualifier in July last year and won both legs, 3-1 away and 2-1 in Glasgow.
A repeat of those performances would satisfy as the Parkhead men step onto Europe’s tightrope again without a safety net in sight. The make-or-break tie next week is a one-off with the winner taking all.
Unlike the Champions League where the play-off in home and away, the Europa League will be decided over one match, unfortunately for Neil Lennon’s men away from home.
That actually may be seen as a good omen. Celtic have exited three European tournaments over the past 13 months – losing the crucial confrontations in Glasgow.
Last season, they crashed 4-3 to Cluj after a 1-1 draw in Romania and then went out of the Europa League, losing 3-1 to FC Copenhagen at home after getting a 1-1 draw in the Danish capital.
This time around, a goal 15 minutes from time saw Ferencvaros win 2-1 at Parkhead to send Lennon’s side toppling out of Europe’s elite competition.