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Champions League & Europa League draws: Who Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs will face in qualifiers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group)
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (SNS Group)

BRENDAN RODGERS will face Estonian or Gibraltarian opposition in his first match as Celtic manager.

Celtic have been drawn to face Flora Tallinn or Lincoln Red Imps in the second qualifying round of the Champions League.

Celtic’s first game will be on July 12-13, the week after their opponents are decided.

Lincoln reached the second qualifying round last season in Gibraltar’s second campaign in European competition, having lost to HB Torshavn of the Faroes on their debut.

They beat Santa Coloma of Andorra 2-1 on aggregate in their opening fixture before going out 3-0 on aggregate to Danish side Midtjylland, who went on to meet Manchester United in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Red Imps have won 13 national titles in a row and their squad includes Lee Casciaro, who scored Gibraltar’s first competitive international goal in a 6-1 defeat to Scotland at Hampden last year.

Flora sit fourth in the Estonian league after 17 games of their season.

Their title success last year sees them return to Europe after a two-year absence. They lost to Albanian side Kukes in the first qualifying round of the Europa League on their last appearance and have only succeeded in one of their 20 encounters in European competition.

Their youth programme is acclaimed in Estonia having produced players including Dundee United striker Henri Anier.

Celtic had trickier potential opponents in the group of unseeded teams in their section of the draw, including Swedish champions IFK Norrkoping as well as two Irish teams.

 

Europa League

Aberdeen and Hearts both face returns to familiar territory if they proceed in their first Europa League challenges.

Aberdeen are likely to face a second trip to Latvia in three seasons if they beat Fola Esch of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round, while Hearts are on course to meet Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a second time.

Hibernian go straight into the second round and have been handed a tough task with a likely encounter with Danes Brondby, who first must overcome Valur Reykjavik. Neil Lennon is due to be at home for his first game as Hibs manager on July 14, although UEFA has still to confirm the fixtures.

Brondby last won a European tie in 2010 before going out 3-2 to Braga in the Europa League play-offs.

Neil Lennon (Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
Neil Lennon (Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Aberdeen will play seeded Latvians Ventspils or Vikingur of the Faroe Islands if they make the second round. The Dons would fancy their chances of progressing after beating Daugava Riga 8-0 on aggregate two years ago, although Ventspils reached the group stages in 2009-10 and only lost 1-0 on aggregate to Malmo on their previous appearance two years ago.

They will first need to overcome Fola, who finished second on goal difference behind Dudelange last season after winning the title twice in the previous two campaigns.

They have never won a European tie but held Gothenburg and Dinamo Zagreb to away draws in the past two seasons.

Derek McInnes (SNS Group)
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes (SNS Group)

Aberdeen were drawn out first but Irish side St Patrick’s are also due to be in Esch-sur-Alzette on July 7, against Jeunesse, which might mean a reschedule.

Hearts are set to be away in Estonia in their opener against Infonet on June 30.

Tallinn-based Infonet are one point off the top of the Estonian League after 17 matches. They will make their European debut against Hearts but have a notable recent cup record – they beat Virtsu Jalgpalliklubi 36-0 in their domestic tournament last year.

Hearts were seeded for the second round and were drawn against Siroki Brijeg or Maltese side Birkirkara. Hearts beat Siroki 3-0 in the Champions League qualifiers 10 years ago.

Robbie Neilson takes Hearts to Estonia (SNS Group)
Robbie Neilson takes Hearts to Estonia (SNS Group)

Other notable first-round ties include an Irish derby between Linfield and Cork City, with the winners taking on Swedish side Hacken.

Glenavon will play Grasshoppers of Zurich if they get past FK Reykjavik while Cliftonville also face a trip to Luxembourg, against Differdange, with a likely tie against Larnaca on offer for the winners.

Shamrock Rovers, who were seeded, face RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland in the first round with Lokomotiva Zagreb likely to face the winners.

Welsh sides Connah’s Quay Nomads, Llandudno and Bala Town face Norwegians Stabaek, two-time winners Gothenburg and fellow Swedes AIK Solna respectively in the opening round.


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