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Arsenal wins 2-0 at Celtic in Champions playoffs

A fluke by William Gallas and an own goal by Gary Caldwell gave Arsenal a healthy 2-0 victory at Celtic and one foot in the lucrative Champions League group stage yesterday.

Gallas accidentally deflected home a 30-meter free kick by Cesc Fabregas in the 43rd minute at Celtic Park and Caldwell turned a cross from Arsenal fullback Gael Clichy past his own goalkeeper in the 71st in the first leg of the playoff round.

"Despite having control of the game we scored two lucky goals," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. "But we had plenty of opportunities."

The teams meet again at Arsenal next week and Celtic will hope to repeat what it achieved in the previous round. Celtic beat Dynamo Moscow after losing the first leg at home.

"Until the first goal I thought we had done extremely well to deny Arsenal opportunities," said Celtic manager Tony Mowbray. "Maybe if we score first at Arsenal it could make them a bit nervous so let's wait and see."

In Tuesday's other games, Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina drew 2-2, VfB Stuttgart won 2-0 at FC Timisoara, Olympiakos won 2-0 at FC Sheriff, and FC Copenhagen beat Apoel 1-0.

Although Juan Manuel Vargas gave Fiorentina a sixth-minute lead, goals by Simon Vukcevic and Miguel Veloso appeared to turn the game Sporting's way in Lisbon only for Alberto Gilardino to make it 2-2 in the 79th.

Timo Gebhart fired home a 27th-minute penalty for Stuttgart in Romania, and Alex Hleb added the second which will give the German club an easy task in the home leg.

Goals by Brazilian midfielder Dudu and Konstantinos Mitroglou gave Olympiakos a great chance to reach the next stage after an easy victory in Moldova, while Zdenek Pospech headed in a cross from Oscar Wendt for FC Copenhagen's winner against Apoel of Cyprus.

The other five playoffs take place on Wednesday: Levski Sofia vs. Debrecen; Lyon vs. Anderlecht; Salzburg vs. Maccabi Haifa; Ventspils vs. FC Zurich; and Panathinaikos vs. Atletico Madrid.


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