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Celtic 6-0 Reykjavik: Lennon’s men cruise into second qualifying round of Champions League

In the fictional world of Will Ferrell’s latest movie, two no-hopers from Iceland travel to Scotland to claim an unlikely triumph in the Eurovision Song Contest.

In the real world of the European Champions League, fairytales are as rare as snow in August. Faced by the pent-up frustration of an on-song Celtic, KR Reykjavik couldn’t hit a note.

With the Parkhead side chasing their first appearance in the group stage in three years, Ferencvaros or Djurgardens will pose a stiffer test for Neil Lennon’s men in the one-legged second qualifying round next week.

Forced to take an involuntary break by the Scottish Government after Boli Bolingoli breached Covid-19 quarantine rules, however, Celtic delivered a positive result in their first test since.

When these teams last met in Europe six years ago, Ronny Deila’s first obstacle as manager ended in a 4-0 second-leg win at Murrayfield while Parkhead was commissioned for the Commonwealth Games.

Celtic didn’t reach reach the group stage that year — and you would be unwise to read too much into their chances based a routine win over a KR Reykjavik side who would struggle to hold their own in the Scottish Premiership.

Restricted to a 1-1 draw on Kilmarnock’s artificial pitch at Rugby Park ten days ago, however, Celtic are entitled to feel a bit better about themselves now.

But for visiting goalkeeper Beitir Olafsson, the score really could have been anything.

For all the neat passing and slick interchange play on show last night, the home team went direct to open the scoring after just six minutes.

A piercing, diagonal ball from central defender Christopher Jullien picked out a run behind the defence by man-of-the-match Mohamed Elyounoussi.

The Norwegian needed one touch to pluck the ball out of the air — and another to drag it wide of Olafsson before turning his first goal of the night into the net from an acute angle with his right foot.

The second goal arrived in 18 minutes. Ryan Christie picked out a run into the penalty area by Hatem Abd Elhamed, the Israeli starting in place of Jeremie Frimpong at right-back.

An inviting low ball across the face of goal was asking to be turned in by Odsonne Edouard. Odds on to score from eight yards out, the stadium announcer subsequently gave the goal to the Frenchman.

Taking what looked like a fresh-air swipe, however, the final touch came off the red boot of Arnor Adalsteinsson for an own goal.

Who scored it made no difference to Celtic. They were cruising — and could have been four up inside 20 minutes.

Elyounoussi made space for a right-foot shot, only for Olafsson to turn the ball round the post.

The busiest man on the field, the goalkeeper then produced a fine follow-up stop from a deflected James Forrest effort.

Celtic were relentless, their next goal a matter of when, rather than if.

Edouard tried to lay the ball on a plate for Forrest with a cutback after 31 minutes, but a desperate intervention from Kristinn Jonsson prevented a certain goal.

The defender was only delaying the inevitable, an outswinging Christie corner picking out Jullien for a header into the net for 3-0.

Celtic didn’t pay AEK Athens £5million to sign goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas for nights like this.

Making his home debut, the Greek international could have leaned against an upright for 45 minutes for all the action he saw.

And yet, as the board went up for first-half stoppage-time, that finally changed.

Kristjan Finnbogason found space for a half volley only for Barkas to turn the ball round the post.

A three-goal margin was a trifling return for Celtic’s dominance in the opening period.

You could imagine the call from Lennon to keep it going at half-time. Celtic players took their manager’s message to heart.

Greg Taylor’s first goal for Celtic would be noteworthy at any time. That the slight left-back scored it with his head two minutes into the second period took everyone by surprise.

Elhamed’s chipped cross to the back post picked out one of the smallest men on the park, Taylor nursing the ball into the net from three yards out for 4-0.

The only thing out of the ordinary at this stage was the lack of a goal from Edouard.

For a striker, timing is everything and the Frenchman picked his perfectly. Glancing towards the touchline he saw new £5m striker Albian Ajeti limbering up beside Patryk Klimala.

That was the cue for Edouard to dance through a series of weak challenges and calmly slot the ball into the net for 5-0 before leaving the stage minus the standing ovation his goal deserved.

As Ajeti and Klimala trotted on, you would have paid to be a fly on the wall in the front room of Leigh Griffiths.

The Scotland international turns 30 tomorrow, his future as a Celtic player more uncertain than a disgruntled teenager marked down in their GCSEs.

Celtic are looking into the horizon and visualising a place in the Champions League. You would get pretty long odds right now on Griffiths landing an invite to the party after Elyounoussi added his second goal of the night — Celtic’s sixth — when he slid an Olivier Ntcham pass into the bottom corner from ten yards in stoppage time.

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