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Celtic, Monaco reach for Champions League

dpadpa 17/08/2016 By Duncan Shaw

Celtic and Monaco are well placed to reach the Champions League after defeats of Hapoel Beer Sheva and Villarreal in the first legs of the playoffs.

Australia's Tommy Rogic was among the scorers with Celtic thumping Beer Sheva 5-2 to step closer to a European Champions League berth.

Monaco are also well placed following Wednesday's playoff round, the red and whites downing Villarreal 2-1 in their first leg in Spain.

The Celtic win came via a brace from Leigh Griffiths plus goals from Rogic, Moussa Dembele and Scott Brown.

Beer Sheva defiantly pulled two quickfire goals back after being down 3-0 up - through Maranhao and Maor Melikson - only for Dembele and Brown to restore the Bhoys' domination.

Celtic have performed badly in the playoffs in recent years but this time will reach the coveted Champions League, barring a meltdown in Israel in the second leg.

"This result has left us very well placed," Rogic said.

"Those last two goals at the end were really great for us. It's not going to be easy for us in the second leg but we really should finish the job off there after what we achieved tonight."

Monaco did well to win at Villarreal, for whom new coach Fran Escriba was making his debut just five days after taking over from Marcelino Garcia in difficult circumstances.

"This is a bad result for us, it has to be admitted," a dejected Escriba said.

"But this tie is by no means over. We need to win in Monaco. That will not be easy but neither will it be impossible."

Monaco had the whip hand from start to finish. Fabinho gave them an early lead only for newcomer Alexandre Pato to level for Villarreal.

Monaco's domination continued into the second half and supersub Bernardo Silva hit a well-deserved winner for the team from Monte Carlo, who managed to hold on despite the sending-off of defender Benjamin Mendy.

In Portugal, Roma were held 1-1 at Porto after going ahead early thanks to a clumsy own goal from local defender Felipe.

Roma had defender Thomas Vermaelen sent off just before half-time, after Porto's Andre Silva took advantage to equalise on the hour.

In the other first legs, Ludogorets beat Viktoria Plzen 2-0 - on second-half goals from Cosmin Moti and Virgil Misidjan - while Legia Warsaw won 2-0 at Dundalk thanks to handsome strikes from Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Prijovic.

"It's so good to have won tonight here in Ireland. But there is still another game to play, and it will be a very hard one, for sure," Legia's Nikolic said.

The second legs will be played August 23.

In Tuesday's first legs, Manchester City enjoyed a 5-0 romp at Steaua Bucharest and Borussia Moenchengladbach won 3-1 at Young Boys.

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