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Celtic, Malmo Duke It Out In Champions League Qualifier

Celtic and Malmo played a thrilling 3-2 game at Celtic Park in Glasgow in the first leg of the Champions League qualification playoffs. With two away goals, Malmo has a good shot to go through to the group stage for the second straight season.

Celtic opened the game strong and dominated the Swedes in the first half. Malmo looked like a bunch of headless chickens, as Celtic took a 2-0 in the opening 10 minutes. Leigh Griffiths scored after just three minutes. Griffiths ended up clean in front of net after a great through ball by Stefan Johansen, and placed the ball into the left corner behind Johan Wiland in the Malmo net.

Nir Biton made it 2-0 seven minutes later after a perfectly timed header off of a Johansen corner. Celtic were in total control of the action and it was pretty much looking as a done deal as referee Felix Brych blew the whistle for halftime.

Malmo manager Age Hareide must have said something special to his team during the halftime chat, as the team came back in the second half. Former Celtic man Jo Inge Berget pulled one back for Malmo in the 53rd minute. He ended up unmarked on the left side inside the penalty area as Magnus Eikrem sent a cross that went over everyone and ended up with Berget. The 24-year-old Norwegian took the ball down with his chest and blasted in a half volley in behind Craig Gordon.

Griffiths scored his second of the game in the 61st minute after an error by Malmo right back Anton Tinnerholm. Tinnerholm headed a ball inside the penalty area straight up into the air and lost the following duel with Griffiths that headed the ball in a perfect arch over Wiland and into the net.

Malmo got some hope back as Berget scored his second of the night in the dying seconds of the game. Malmo will just need one goal at home at Swedbank Stadium in the return leg next week as that would put them through on the away goal rule.

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