Champions League first qualifying round (2nd Leg)

Champions League

The Champions League first qualifying round kicked off this week, with three British teams and one Irish side taking their bows.

Whole both Northern Ireland’s Crusaders and Welsh outfit The New Saints were outclassed, Celtic were  imperious and Cork City still have plenty to play for.

Celtic to shine against Alashkert

Having reached the group stages in each of the last two seasons, Celtic will expect to make it a hat-trick. Tuesday’s 3-0 win away at Alashkert was a victory that perhaps showed how far they have come under Brendan Rodgers.

That victory in Yerevan came in a game that they may have lost under previous regimes, but they hardly had to break sweat against The Yellows. They will see Tuesday’s return game at Parkhead as a chance to build fitness and put on a show in front of their fans.

After winning the ‘double treble’ in the first couple of years under Rodgers, they need to start making progress in Europe.

Their current advantage means they are an extremely short price and rightly so, due to their clear superiority over the Armenian champions.

Therefore, another win to zero is likely and home advantage suggests they could really cut loose and provide their fans with plenty of joy.

Cork look unlikely to limit Legia

Cork produced a decent account of themselves on Tuesday, but Legia Warsaw just had too much for them.

Michal Kucharczyk’s second-half strike made the difference at Turner’s Cross in a decent game, but it was Legia who were the better side and have Champions League pedigree, having made the groups in 2016-17.

On that occasion they beat Sporting Lisbon and drew with Real Madrid and are a team who could provide some upsets if they make it through.

Cork will have something to say about that though, although John Caulfield’s men will need to step up, having managed just one shot on target in their home leg.

Tuesday’s trip to Poland will see them aim for a second ever appearance in the second qualifying round, having lost out to Crvena Zvezda at that stage in 2006-07.

They will have to turn the tables to get a result in Warsaw on Tuesday and a half-time/full-time bet on Legia at 1.51 might be the answer.

End of the road for Crusaders and TNS

The side that suffered the heaviest defeat in the first legs was Northern Irish outfit Crusaders, who were outclassed 7-0 by Ludogorets Razgad. The Bulgarians have made the group stages three times in their history and after dropping into the Europa League last term, only went down to AC Milan in the last 32.

They will have no fears heading to Belfast and pride is all the Hatchetmen have to play for on Tuesday and having netted five of their seven goals in the second half, punters may back the 2.05 for goals after the break..

The same can be said for Welsh team The New Saints, who went down 5-0 to Macedonian champions KF Shkendija.

Besart Ibraimi scored four times in Skopje and will again provide the main threat in Oswestry.