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Published: 21:37 | 17/8/16

Dundalk face huge task after Legia defeat

Celtic have one foot in group stage

Dundalk's hopes of becoming the first Irish side to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League hang by a thread after they lost 2-0 to Legia Warsaw in the first leg at Lansdowne Road.

The Polish side broke the deadlock on 56 minutes when Andy Boyle was harshly ruled to have deliberately handled in the box and Nemanja Nikolic made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Despite starting the tie as clear underdogs, Stephen Kenny's side gave an excellent account of themselves, particularly in the first period, with captain Stephen O'Donnell the best player on the pitch for much of the contest.

However, in a game of few chances Dundalk were struggling to create the openings which would enable them to level matters.

They had a big penalty shout in the later stages of the match when Ciaran Kilduff went down under a challenge in the area but this time the referee was unmoved.

Kilduff had one of their few opportunities but he blazed high over the crossbar from 12 yards.

Dundalk's task become even tougher when with the last kick of the game Aleksandar Prijovic coolly dinked the ball over Gary Rogers into the back of the net.

O'Donnell picked up a yellow card which rules him out of the second leg and Dundalk will need to produce the best result in the club's history if they are to win in Warsaw.

Celtic meanwhile have almost secured their passage into the group stages as they beat Hapoel Be'er Sheva 5-2 in a topsy-turvy contest at Celtic Park.

The Scottish champions produced some superb attacking play in the first half with goals from Tom Rogic and a spectacular double from Leigh Griffiths giving them a three-goal lead at the break.

However, two goals in three second half minutes from the Israeli side courtesy of Lucio Maranhao and Maor Melikson, cut the deficit to just a single goal before the hour-mark.

Although they were rattled, Brendan Rodgers' side regrouped and began to surge forward at their opponents and substitute Moussa Dembele headed their fourth on 73 minutes.

Scott Brown capped a memorable victory when he swept home Celtic's fifth with five minutes on the clock to give them a three-goal advantage heading into the second leg in Beersheba next Tuesday.

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