Celtic eased into the Champions League second qualifying round with a 2-1 home victory over Sarajevo, sending them through 5-2 on aggregate.

Leading 3-1 from the first leg, the Scottish champions added to their advantage when Ryan Christie fired in midway through the first half at Celtic Park on Wednesday.

The visitors pulled level on the night courtesy of a well-taken Benjamin Tatar goal against the run of play but Callum McGregor's low strike with 14 minutes remaining killed off any lingering Sarajevo hopes of a comeback.

It was, ultimately, a comfortable victory for Neil Lennon's side, who will meet Estonian champions Nomme Kalju in the next round.

The biggest cheer of the night came with 10 minutes remaining when striker Leigh Griffiths was introduced for his first competitive appearance since being given time off in December to resolve personal issues.

Lennon had warned his side before the match the tie was far from over and his side were given a scare in the opening minute when Mersudin Ahmetovic chipped over Scott Bain only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.

Celtic soon took control, however, and made their dominance count in the 26th minute as Odsonne Edouard found Christie, who controlled the ball with his outstretched right boot before firing high into the roof of the net with his left.

Sarajevo struck when Boli Bolingoli's pass was intercepted and Ahmetovic nodded to the onrushing Tatar, who volleyed superbly inside the left post.

It was McGregor who had the final say, though, with a superb drilled strike from outside the box to ensure a comfortable outing for the Hoops.

Neymar has been defended by his father after the Paris Saint-Germain star claimed Barcelona's 6-1 Champions League win over his current employers was a career highlight.

PSG forward Neymar caused controversy when he failed to report in the French capital for pre-season training, with the club stating they would take "appropriate action", although the player's camp insisted it had been agreed he would not return until July 15.

The club's sporting director Leonardo later confirmed Neymar wished to leave PSG, though he stressed a move would only be sanctioned if a suitable offer was made, with Barca seemingly favourites to land their former forward despite the €120million arrival of Antoine Griezmann.

And Neymar - who is due to return to PSG on Monday - risked causing further anger when he declared Barca's magnificent comeback victory at Camp Nou in 2016-17 as one of his best memories from a professional dressing room.

However, Neymar's father has come to his son's defence, insisting the 27-year-old has not disrespected PSG with remarks that are similar to some he made two years ago.

"My son has not been lacking respect to PSG or the athletes who played that game in 2017," Neymar Sr. wrote on his official Instagram account.

"Some of them [involved in that game] are currently his club mates in France. From the end of that game to today, he always remembers this match as one of the most important in his career.

"There are a few journalists and fans around the world who consider this as the most important game of the athlete at the club. So why the controversy this time?

"My son is an athlete of PSG, but he cannot just ignore his history, history that made him reach the French club."

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar acknowledged he is not a "perfect role model" nor a "superhero".

The Brazil international has spent almost two years with Paris Saint-Germain, but rumours of unhappiness, rocky relationships with team-mates and a lack of commitment have rarely been far away.

More recently, Neymar failed to report back for pre-season training earlier this month amid speculation he wants to return to Barcelona, while PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the forward was available for a transfer if the price is right.

Neymar further risked the wrath of PSG supporters on Saturday when highlighting Barca's remarkable 2016-17 Champions League turnaround against his current employers as one of his two favourite football memories, though he showed a more vulnerable side at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five football tournament in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

The former Barca man said: "I'm no superhero nor perfect a perfect role model. I also have my bad moments, when I want to go home and hide, to stay with my friends and family.

"I'm no superhero that handles all the pressure in the world, but I make an effort because I know what I've become, not only to my family and son, but for most of the children that are here.

"I know I have a huge responsibility and I want to act in the best way possible. Always being honest, that is the most important thing."

Neymar missed Brazil's successful Copa America campaign due to an ankle injury and he was especially gutted to be absent as that tournament had been his big goal for the year.

"Being out of Copa America was so bad, I didn't like it," he added. "I don't even like to stay out of training, so you can imagine [what it was like missing] Copa America.

"That was so important to me and was my focus this year, but I cheered a lot for my colleagues and friends.

"I was really happy to see them win, even more than if I was playing. Their happiness is mine also."

Neymar did little to ease tensions with Paris Saint-Germain as he declared Barcelona's classic 2016-17 Champions League comeback against the Parisians as one of his fondest memories in football.

The Brazilian star appears to be at loggerheads with his employers at PSG, as it is claimed he is trying to engineer a return to Barca.

Furthermore, PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar can leave if potential suitors meet their asking price.

Neymar joined PSG from Barca for a world-record fee of €222million in August 2017, but just five months earlier he played a major role in dumping the French side out of the Champions League in the last 16.

PSG won the first leg 4-0, but Barca stunned them at the Camp Nou as they ran out 6-1 winners, scoring three times – including a Neymar brace – after the 88th minute to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

And, speaking at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five event, Neymar again risked the wrath of PSG fans by calling that one of his two best moments in football.

Speaking to Oh My Goal, Neymar said: "My best memory as a footballer? There are two moments. Firstly, when we won the Olympics with Brazil.

"Secondly, the 'remontada' against Paris. What we felt when we scored the sixth goal… I never felt something like this. It was incredible.

"When we won against PSG with Barca, it was completely… we all went crazy afterwards. I believe it was the best possible feeling for all of us."

Celtic beat Sarajevo 3-1 away in the opening leg of their Champions League first round qualifier.

Neil Lennon's side face a long road to the group stages but got their European campaign off to a good start with a hard-fought victory in Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital on Tuesday.

They had to come from behind, Mirko Oremus putting Sarajevo in front from a poorly defended set piece, with Michael Johnston heavily involved in Celtic's comeback.

The 20-year-old attacker got the Scottish champions back on level terms with an excellent solo goal before setting up Odsonne Edouard, with Scott Sinclair adding a late third.

Celtic dominated the opening exchanges but the hosts took the lead in the 29th minute. Scott Brown was unable to clear a left-wing corner whipped into the box and Oremus pounced to slam his finish past goalkeeper Scott Bain.

Celtic hit back within six minutes, Johnston evading the attention of three defenders before smashing home a superb 25-yard finish.

And they went 2-1 ahead six minutes into the second half, netting another vital away goal in the tie.

A clever team move saw the ball worked to Johnston and he slipped a pass into the path of Edouard, the striker doing the rest with a simple finish.

Sarajevo battled bravely but could not find a way to beat Bain for a second time, with Lennon's men then taking full control of the tie thanks to a third goal in the 85th minute.

Sinclair had not long been sent on as a substitute but a clever backheeled finish past Vladan Kovacevic left Sarajevo with a mountain to climb ahead of next week's return in Glasgow.

Thiago Silva says it is natural for Lionel Messi to be frustrated with the referee after losing, suggesting Paris Saint-Germain had similar feelings in defeat to Barcelona in 2017.

Argentina great Messi described the officiating in his side's Copa America semi-final loss to Brazil as "bulls***" and suggested his side were victims of "corruption" as he received a controversial red card in the third-place play-off with Chile, which led to a strong rebuttal from CONMEBOL who described his comments as "unacceptable" and "unfounded".

"Maybe I'm paying for what I said last time," the Barcelona star said.

Brazil defender Silva, responding to the comments, suggested Messi had benefited from such decisions in Barca's incredible 6-1 Champions League win over PSG two years ago.

"This is difficult for us to comment on," he said after Brazil's 3-1 final win over Peru. "Sometimes in defeat, we try to focus on other people.

"I think he did not say it out of spite, but we are sad because, in the game we lost 6-1 to Barcelona, he played the referee, which, in my opinion, was ridiculous.

"But we did not give a statement that the referee was in favour of Barcelona. I think you have to show respect.

"Brazil do not have five stars [from World Cup wins] at random - none of them have been stolen. It was played on the pitch."

Silva's PSG and Brazil team-mate Marquinhos added: "[Messi] is a good person, but his statements were unfortunate and we Brazilian players did not like that.

"We lost in the World Cup against Belgium and there were also refereeing errors in his favour with Barcelona. I did not hear him talk about corruption at that time."

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca also weighed in on Messi's outburst following the defeat to Brazil.

"Messi is an authoritative voice, that does not mean I agree with him," Gareca said. "I respect him a lot - not just the player but the person. He seems to be very focused.

"But apart from the opinion we have of Messi, we can agree or disagree with him.

"I like that we would know what we have to improve in South America, but that does not necessarily mean that there is corruption or that we are corrupt.

"There is more and more information from Europe, where our children and grandchildren know more and more European players, and it seems that we want to imitate them in everything.

"There are good things in Europe, but we also have good things in South American football, too. I would like to defend South American football.

"If you speak of corruption, you must have convincing evidence. Football is a game and an individual can go wrong."

Edgar Davids has insisted Juventus' current squad, led by record signing Cristiano Ronaldo, cannot be labelled the club's best ever until they at least reach the Champions League final.

The Italian giants finished top of Serie A last season for the eighth year running, ending up a comfortable 11 points clear of nearest rivals Napoli.

However, despite last year's addition of superstar forward Ronaldo to an already star-studded group, Juventus exited both the Champions League and Coppa Italia in the last eight.

And Davids claimed his former side must improve on last season's showing in Europe in particular if they are to go down in club history.

Asked if Ronaldo's Juventus is the greatest crop of players seen at the Bianconeri through the years, Davids replied: "Did he reach the Champions league final? No. But I hope they can make it next year.

"It is becoming an obsession for Juventus. When you want to be the best it has to be an obsession."

Juventus have added free agents Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Gianluigi Buffon, as well as bringing in Merih Demiral and Luca Pellegrini during the close season.

Ajax's in-demand skipper Matthijs de Ligt has been tipped to make the switch to the Allianz Stadium too, but Davids has his reservations.

"He has only played one season at the highest level," Davids said at the Operazione Nostalgia 2019 event. 

"I don't think we have to exaggerate his evaluation."

Frenkie de Jong is in dreamland after officially joining Barcelona and becoming a team-mate of his idol Lionel Messi.

Barca announced the signing of De Jong from Ajax in January, with the move effective ahead of the 2019-20 season, agreeing to potentially pay the Dutch club a remarkable €86million.

A supremely gifted and technical midfielder, De Jong has impressed at Ajax over the past few years but really rose to prominence last term, when he helped Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals.

In De Jong, Barca feel they have a player capable of becoming the heir to both Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, such is his well-rounded style of play.

And it is not lost on De Jong what it means to represent the Blaugrana, as he prepares to play alongside Messi.

"I am very happy to be here finally," he told Barca's official website. "As a child it was a dream for me to play at Barca, and now I'm here so it's great.

"I'm really looking forward to setting foot on the Camp Nou pitch for the first time. I'm happy to be able to play with Messi, who I have always followed. Now my idol will be my team-mate."

While the step up from the Eredivisie to LaLiga could be significant, De Jong does not expect to struggle in his adaptation period, pointing to the similarity between the philosophies taught by Barca, Ajax and Netherlands.

"I like Barca's way of playing," he added. "The philosophy of Barca and Ajax are very similar, and I think I will enjoy it.

"Barca and Holland have always had a great, special connection, and I hope to follow in that tradition. I want to be one of the great Dutch players who have played at Barcelona."

Frank Lampard believes Chelsea have the quality to compensate for Eden Hazard's exit and should settle for nothing less than a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Though tasked with guiding academy prospects into the first team amid a ban on registering new players, head coach Lampard described an "intention to win" as non-negotiable for a squad blessed with talent that "can be huge" at Stamford Bridge.

That begins with keeping the club in the Champions League, a challenge made more difficult by Hazard's departure for Real Madrid.

Lampard – handed a three-year deal despite his managerial inexperience – claims the board have set no minimum expectations in terms of league position.

But the Blues legend, who left Derby County to take the post, outlined the importance of keeping pace with the pack as he faced the media in his new role for the first time on Thursday.

"We want to be playing Champions League football year in, year out,” Lampard said.

"For sure there is a lot of competition at the top of the table. We also have a very strong squad of players and there is huge talent there. We haven't been decimated.

"Of course there are variables, we know about the transfer ban, we know Manchester City and Liverpool pulled away slightly last year.

"We have to be realistic about that, but we should never stop trying as Chelsea to be up there."

Much of the ex-England international's success as a player with Chelsea came under Jose Mourinho, who won three Premier League titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup across two spells in charge but twice exited in acrimonious fashion.

Lampard distanced himself from the Portuguese's brash behaviour – wishing to avoid "self-proclaimed nicknames" – and shunned all concerns about sullying his reputation in the eyes of adoring supporters.

"I don't see it as a risk," he said.

"I'm the type of personality that loves challenges. I'm not fearful of the downside. I'm ready to stand up and accept that side of it."

Frank Lampard has been appointed as Chelsea's new head coach, returning to the club where he enjoyed his best years as a player.

Lampard only ventured into management in 2018-19 but impressed with Derby County as he led the Rams to the Championship play-off final.

Derby went down 2-1 to Aston Villa at Wembley, but Lampard has nevertheless been handed a dream return to Stamford Bridge following Maurizio Sarri's move to Juventus.

To mark Lampard's move, we take a look at some of his finest moments in a Chelsea shirt.

 

SECURING CHELSEA'S FIRST PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE

Lampard ensured his name would forever go down in Chelsea folklore on April 30, 2005, when his double secured the Blues' first Premier League title, ending a 50-year wait for a league crown.

Bolton Wanderers had been on top in the first half, but Lampard put Chelsea ahead in the 60th minute when he cut inside Vincent Candela and hammered in across Jussi Jaaskelainen. The victory was wrapped up soon after - Lampard driving clear on the counter before coolly rounding Jaaskelainen and clinch the title in style.

COMING CLOSE TO THE BALLON D'OR

Lampard scored 13 league goals and provided 18 assists during a stellar 2004-05 campaign, and his strong form continued into the following season.

The midfielder was only beaten to the 2005 Ballon d'Or by Barcelona superstar Ronaldinho, with Steven Gerrard finishing behind him in the voting.

CAMP NOU CHIP

Lampard scored an iconic Champions League goal on October 31, 2006, when he hauled Chelsea level against Barcelona with an audacious effort.

The ball looked to have run away from him, but Lampard managed to turn it back under his control before sending an exquisite chip from the tightest of angles over goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GLORY

After losing on penalties to Manchester United in the 2008 final, Chelsea finally tasted Champions League success four years later.

Facing Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, Chelsea forced extra time when Didier Drogba cancelled out Thomas Muller's 83rd-minute opener. The Blues put the Moscow failure behind them in the shoot-out - Lampard scoring his spot-kick before Drogba hammered in to secure European glory.

RECORD BREAKER

Bobby Tambling's record of 202 Chelsea goals had looked safe for another season heading into the penultimate match of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign, even more so when Christian Benteke put Aston Villa ahead and Ramires was dismissed before half-time.

But Lampard stepped up to save Chelsea. He thumped home from Eden Hazard's cutback before notching a record-breaking 203rd time for the Blues when he rounded off a slick move late on.

The midfielder would go on to reach 211 before leaving in 2014.

Pep Guardiola expressed his disagreement with the idea of a breakaway competition for Europe's top clubs, saying a prospective Super League would "kill" domestic football.

Reports suggesting Bayern Munich and their chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge might attempt to lead the creation of a new competition for Europe's biggest clubs have been circulating since late 2018, and Guardiola is one of many to have voiced their concern.

Bayern and Rummenigge have strongly denied the reports but rumours persist that the clubs who dominate their respective leagues might seek to establish a year-round competition that offers the quality, competitiveness and lucrative rewards of the Champions League.

Guardiola was asked for his views on a breakaway league in an interview with Catalan daily newspaper Ara, and he said: "I do not agree much with the idea. Someone should explain to me [why it's a good idea].

"If it happens we'll kill the leagues. If Barca and Madrid go and they do not play against Espanyol, who will follow the league? The Spanish league will die.

"In England they are very intelligent, the grounds of the fourth division are full. England will not let this essence of local football die."

Guardiola's failure to deliver glory in the Champions League has been one of his few shortcomings during an otherwise hugely successful three-year spell at Manchester City.

City have been knocked out in the round of 16 once and the quarter-finals twice under Guardiola, but he expressed his appreciation for the Champions League's format while making it clear he does not see an alternative European competition as the way forward for anyone.

"Part of the greatness of the Champions League is that it is not every Sunday," said Guardiola. "If games were every week it would lose its charm.

"Barcelona v Espanyol is very necessary for the city. And the more Catalan teams in LaLiga, the better.

"If we kill the domestic leagues, nobody will be interested in watching teams that do not have the chance to go to the European league."

Pep Guardiola doubts whether Neymar would prove as effective in a second stint at Barcelona as in his first four seasons at the club.

LaLiga champions Barca are reportedly trying to engineer a Camp Nou reunion with the player they begrudgingly lost to Paris Saint-Germain two years ago.

Brazil star Neymar is believed to want the move to go ahead and rumours of his return have gained traction in recent weeks.

The forward won LaLiga twice and the Champions League once while scoring freely in Spain, but ex-Barca boss Guardiola is unsure whether those heights can be reached again.

"Neymar is an extraordinary player, but I don't know," the Manchester City manager told Catalan newspaper Ara.

"It's the same as if I came back. Would it be the same? I'm not the same person now and I'm not sure if Neymar is either.

"But he's very good, nobody doubts that."

Neymar arrived at Barca from Santos in 2013 - the year after Guardiola's departure - and went on to forge a devastating attacking partnership with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Now the club's captain, talisman Messi is reportedly keen to rekindle that feted front three as a potential remedy to the frustrating wait for another Champions League crown.

Guardiola thinks his former employers already boast the talent to keep the Argentina international satisfied with his surroundings, and defended incumbent coach Ernesto Valverde's failure to avert a European implosion against Liverpool.

"I think they are there, the right players. They have always been there," he said.

"I recently said that the two toughest rivals I have encountered in my career are Liverpool this year and Luis Enrique's Barca. 

"The Champions League is very demanding... the defensive involvement in Europe is very large. 

"That is one of the reasons I played Leo through the middle. I didn't want Leo to experience the physical wear and tear, so he could express his talent in the last 20 meters of the pitch.

"But at the Camp Nou against Liverpool he ran like a beast. If they had reached the Champions League final, they would have won."

Criticism of Lionel Messi and Neymar for not being "team players" suggests former Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal does not like players that "detract from the coach", according to Rivaldo.

Van Gaal, who coached Rivaldo at Camp Nou, claimed Barca and Paris Saint-Germain had fallen short in the Champions League because Messi and Neymar had been playing for themselves.

The ex-Manchester United manager advised the star duo to be more like Liverpool midfielder James Milner, a European champion in 2018-19, in order to return their clubs to winning ways.

But Rivaldo appears to believe Van Gaal simply does not like outstanding individual talents, as he responded in an Instagram post, including an image of Messi, Neymar and the Dutchman.

"Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo are difference-making players and neither the team nor the coach knows how they do those otherworldly things," the World Cup winner wrote.

"But there are many coaches who do not like these players because they detract from the coach himself, so they prefer to talk about these players as if they do not know how to play as a team and they are good only individually.

"I played football for more than 24 years and I know very well that many coaches were very average when they played and others were not players.

"Today, as coaches, they want their team to play as a team for them to have the merit of a great coach.

"If you have a player like Pele, Johan Cruyff, Rivellino, Garrincha, Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Fenomeno, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Romario, Kaka, Maradona, Zico, Mbappe, Figo, Stoichkov, Hagi, etc, it is easier.

"But it does not mean you are going to be champions. If you also have a team that does not play well tactically, it can mean that you are not going to be a champion.

"I prefer difference-making players because football is joy and everyone likes something different. The team is always important, but you need to have different players who can do something more on the pitch."

Sadio Mane claims lifting the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with Senegal would top his Champions League success with Liverpool.

The 27-year-old played a key part in Liverpool's triumphant run in 2018-19, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the final on June 1.

But Mane, who started all 13 of the Reds' European matches last season, now has a chance to eclipse that achievement by leading Senegal to glory in the continental showpiece for the first time in their history.

"It is up to us to achieve something great," he told France Football. "Of course we are one of the favourites, we cannot hide from that. But this standing is not enough to go all the way.

"Winning with my country, which has never won the Africa Cup of Nations, would be magnificent.

"I am even ready to swap a Champions League to win an Africa Cup of Nations. The return to Dakar would be extraordinary. This is my biggest and most crazy dream."

Senegal kicked off their Group C campaign with a 2-0 win over Tanzania on Sunday through goals from Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta.

And Mane, suspended for that opening match for picking up two bookings in qualifying, admitted his side have a real chance of going all the way in Egypt. 

"It's in our hands," he said. "It's clear that we're one of the favourites. 

"We can't deny it. It's not just enough to get results, but we have to be at our best level in every match."

Senegal face Algeria and Kenya in their remaining two group matches.

Lionel Messi and Neymar limit the success of Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain because they are not "team players", according to former Blaugrana coach Louis van Gaal.

Messi is considered one of the greatest players of all time, while Neymar is the most expensive signing in history, yet Barca have not won the Champions League since 2015. PSG, meanwhile, are still waiting on their first such title.

And Van Gaal, who coached at Camp Nou from 1997 to 2000 and 2002 to 2003, believes the two individuals must take responsibility for these failings.

"Look at Barcelona. How many Champions Leagues have they won with what they say is the best player in the world?" he told El Pais.

"Look at Neymar at PSG. How many Champions Leagues have they won? I like Neymar and Messi as individual players but not as team players. I believe that in team games, there is nothing more important than the team player."

Extending his point, Van Gaal compared Messi and Neymar unfavourably to versatile Liverpool midfielder James Milner.

"One of the best is James Milner," he said. "In the final of the Champions League, he played as a defender and as a midfielder. It's great that he can offer that at 33.

"I think Messi should ask himself how it is possible that he has not won a Champions League for so long.

"I am neither in the dressing room nor in training at Barcelona. I cannot judge. I like Messi as an individual player. He is the best individual player in the world because his statistics are amazing. I like him.

"But why has he not won the Champions League since five years ago? Why? As a captain, you must ask yourself why the team does not win in Europe.

"Barca have a wonderful squad. You cannot say that [Ivan] Rakitic is bad, or that [Philippe] Coutinho is bad, or that [Jordi] Alba is a bad player, or [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen a bad goalie, or Arthur or [Arturo] Vidal.

"I think Messi is also responsible for what is happening in Barcelona - not only the coach. Players have a substantial part of responsibility for what happens on the team."

Van Gaal was not overly concerned by reports Neymar is set to rejoin Messi at Barca, yet he does feel the Blaugrana captain is given too much freedom by his coaches.

"I remember that Neymar at Barca played for Messi's service," the ex-Manchester United boss said. "I'm not against Neymar. He is fabulous. But at PSG, he does not play for the team.

"And I believe that every player must play for the team - even Messi. [Barcelona] have a staff of 30 players and I think Messi must adapt to the team and not the other way around.

"[Pep] Guardiola did play for the benefit of the team but recent coaches have adapted too much to Messi instead of protecting the team spirit. That is the most important."

Assessing Barca's 4-0 semi-final second-leg loss to Liverpool, Van Gaal said: "If there is a true team spirit, at the highest level this result is impossible."

On PSG, he added: "They do not have the right team spirit. It is obvious. I saw them at the Parc des Princes the day they beat Bayern 3-0 in the Champions League in 2017.

"I saw them on the field: the team-mates were not happy with Neymar's style of play. And they are still not happy."

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