In the opening week of European play for Scottish clubs, all four of them found victory for the first time in over a decade for a nice start to the Summer for Scottish Football.
For the first time in over a decade, four Scottish teams acquired victories in Europe in the same week. With Rangers, Celtic, Kilmarnock, and Aberdeen all finding victory in the opening rounds of qualifying for Europa and Champions League.
Rangers and Celtic got things started. Rangers began their match against Gibraltar side St Joseph’s FC slow but scored four goals in the second half to come away with a 4-0 victory to head into the second leg at home with the tie all but in hand.
Old Firm rivals Celtic had the toughest competition, which makes sense given they are in Champions League qualifying, as they went on the road to face Sarajevo of Bosnia. Sarajevo got the opening goal 29 minutes into the match, but Celtic quickly responded as Mikey Johnston scored one for Celtic. From that point on Celtic were firmly in control of the match with Odsonne Edouard putting them into the lead, and Scott Sinclair adding an exclamation point goal in the 84th minute. With the 3-1 victory on the road, Celtic can return to Glasgow for the second leg with a comfortable lead that would require a truly spectacular breakdown given that they have 3 away goals in the bag.
Aberdeen had fairly stiff competition as well, hosting Finnish side Rops Rovaniemi at Pittodrie. Aberdeen played a solid game, with Niall McGinn scoring the opening goal 36 minutes in and Sam Cosgrove made it 2-0 early in the second half. The downside is that Aberdeen gave up a goal in stoppage time which will make their second-leg trip to Finland a dangerous one as Aberdeen leads by just one and having given up an away goal.
Lastly, Kilmarnock, who are playing in Europe for the first time in 18 years, went against Welsh side Connah Nomads. On the road, the match was closer than you would hope it would be given that Killie was facing a Nomads team that is only part-time, as they required a last-gasp goal in order to pull away a 2-1 victory, given the history of Scottish teams blowing exactly these sorts of matches is the sort of thing that simply makes you thankful they didn’t blow it. With a 2-1 lead and those 2 goals being away goals Killie can return to Rugby Park for the second leg confident in their ability to advance to the next round over the Welsh part-timers.
All in all, it was a successful week for Scottish Football. After the success of Rangers and Celtic last season gave Scotland it’s best coefficient score in years, another strong performance from multiple teams could officially mark Scottish Football as on the rise. While Scotland, currently ranked 20th in the UEFA coefficient, is 4 spots out of a second team to get Champions League Qualifiers, they are only a couple of points back. As painful as it may be to pull for hated rivals, it is the best thing for all Scottish teams.