Celtic given Icelandic challenge as Champions League qualifying draw announced

Celtic were drawn against Stjarnan as the first two qualifying rounds of the 2015/16 Uefa Champions League, with the first legs of the first round starting June 30, were announced Monday.

Celtic striker John Guidetti shown celebrating a goal during Europa League play in February. Ian MacNicol / AFP / February 19, 2015
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Former European Cup winners Celtic must face Stjarnan, a team once best known for their outrageous goal celebrations, in the Champions League qualifiers.

Although the Icelandic champions are making their debut in the competition, the second qualifying round tie is likely to be no laughing matter for the Scottish club as they attempt to make up for last season’s embarrassing performance.

Motherwell, Premier League rivals of Scottish champions Celtic, were among Stjarnan’s victims as they progressed through three rounds of Europa League qualifiers before losing 9-0 on aggregate to Inter Milan last season.

Stjarnan won their first Icelandic league title in astonishing style in October. converting a stoppage-time penalty in their final game to beat FH 2-1 and finish one point ahead of their opponents.

The club once produced a bizarre goal celebration known as “the fish” where the scorer would throw an imaginary fishing line and one of his teammates would pretend to be reeled in.

Although Stjarnan gained millions of YouTube hits for their antics, they have toned down the celebrations in the last two seasons.

Steaua Bucharest, the only other former winners in the draw for the first two qualifying rounds, face Slovak champions Trencin, with the first leg away.

Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade were paired with Georgia’s Dila Gori and Bulgaria’s Ludogorets Razgrad, who played in the group stage last season, play Moldova’s Milsami Orhei.

The champions of 30 European countries enter the fray in the second qualifying round with the first legs on July 15/16 and the returns on July 21/22.

Last season Celtic, the 1967 European Cup winners, suffered the indignity of twice being knocked out of the competition.

They lost 6-1 on aggregate to Legia Warsaw in the third qualifying round but were reprieved after the Polish side fielded an ineligible player in the second leg.

After being reinstated, Celtic lost to Slovenian club Maribor in the play-off round

Champions League qualifying draw for the 2015/16 tournament, made by Uefa on Monday:

First qualifying round (matches to be played June 30/July 1 and July 7/8)

Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar) v FC Santa Coloma (Andorra)

Crusaders (Northern Ireland) v Levadia Tallinn (Estonia)

Pyunik (Armenia) v Folgore (San Marino)

B36 Torshavn (Faroe Islands) v The New Saints (Wales)

Second qualifying round (matches to be played July 14/15 and July 21/22)

Hibernians (Malta) v Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus) v Vardar (Macedonia)

Qarabag (Azerbaijan) v Rudar Pljevlja (Montenegro)

Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) v Lech Poznan (Poland)

Maribor (Slovenia) v Astana (Kazakhstan)

Bate Borisov (Belarus) v Dundalk (Ireland)

HJK Helsinki (Finland) v Ventspils (Latvia)

Midtjylland (Denmark) v Lincoln Red Imps or FC Santa Coloma

Molde (Norway) v Pyunik or Folgore

Malmo (Sweden) v Zalgiris Vilnius (Lithuania)

Celtic (Scotland) v Stjarnan (Iceland)

Trencin (Slovakia) v Steaua Bucharest (Romania)

Partizan (Serbia) v Dila Gori (Georgia)

Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria) v Milsami Orhei (Moldova)

Fola Esch (Luxembourg) v Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Skenderbeu Korce (Albania) v Crusaders or Levadia Tallinn

B36 Torshavn or The New Saints v Videoton (Hungary)

– The winners of the 16 matches in the second qualifying draw go through to a third qualifying round and a two-legged play-off (August 18/19 and 25/26) to reach the group stage, which begins on September 15/16.

– Next year’s final will take place in the San Siro Stadium, Milan, on May 28.

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