Lille overcame FC Copenhagen in extra time to qualify for the group phase of the Champions League on Wednesday, but while Celtic swept past Helsingborg, there was disappointment for Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Lille had been left shell-shocked by their 1-0 loss in Copenhagen last week but they took a 43rd-minute lead at their new Grand Stade home when Lucas Digne tucked away his first goal from the club from Salomon Kalou’s low cross.
Tulio de Melo almost doubled the hosts’ lead in the 84th minute, only for his header to hit the crossbar, but the Brazilian atoned in extra time by converting Nolan Roux’s cross to give the 2011 French champions a 2-1 aggregate win.
Rudi Garcia’s side can now look forward to Champions League football in their purpose-built 50,000-seater stadium, and they will learn the identities of their future opponents in Thursday’s group-stage draw in Monaco.
“I’m happy for (club president) Michel Seydoux, not because of the financial implications but for the collective emotions,” said Lille coach Garcia.
“The fans were magnificent and they really pushed us. We’ll be in the draw. We have to savour it and congratulate the players, because they were really great.”
Moenchengladbach, beaten finalists in 1977, had been bidding to reach the group phase for the first time in the Champions League era but they narrowly missed out on qualification after losing 2-1 at Dynamo Kiev.
Having gone down 3-1 at home in the first leg, they managed to level the tie thanks to a 70th-minute own goal from Yevhen Khacheridi and a Juan Arango header eight minutes later.
It took Lucien Favre’s team to within a goal of a place in the group stage, but the next goal came for the home side, Nigerian striker Ideye Brown running clear and coolly chipping Marc-Andre ter Stegen to secure Dynamo’s passage.
Celtic already had one foot in the tournament proper after last week’s 2-0 win over Helsingborg and they finished the job in style at Celtic Park, with another victory by the same scoreline completing a 4-0 aggregate success.
Gary Hooper settled the home fans’ nerves in the 30th when he tapped home from Georgios Samaras’ centre in the 30th minute, despite strong suspicions of offside.
James Forrest saw a powerful 20-yard shot come back off the post late in the second half before Kenyan striker Victor Wanyama set the seal on victory with an 88th-minute header.
It is the first time Celtic have qualified for the group phase of Europe’s premier club competition since the 2008-09 season.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done in football,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon told Sky Sports. “The pressure going into this game and, in particular, the last five or six weeks, has been enormous.
”You know what it means to the fans here. It’s been four years in the waiting and I’m just so happy and so proud of them.“
Elsewhere, Spartak Moscow drew 1-1 at Fenerbahce to completed a 3-2 aggregate win, while FC Basel -- who sensationally eliminated Manchester United from last season’s competition -- went out after losing 1-0 at Romanians CFR-Cluj.
Tuesday’s victors will be joined in the group phase draw by Malaga, Sporting Braga, Anderlecht, Dinamo Zagreb and BATE Barisov, who came through their play-off ties on Tuesday, as well as the 22 teams to have already qualified.Report Typo/Error