Celtic to go to Latvia or San Marino in Europa League

Paris (AFP) – Celtic were handed a trip to face either Riga FC of Latvia or Tre Fiori of San Marino in the draw for the third qualifying round of the Europa League made on Tuesday.

The Scottish champions dropped into the Europa League after being dumped out of the Champions League by Hungarian side Ferencvaros in the second qualifying round last week.

Neil Lennon’s side will be fully expected to advance to the play-off round against Riga or Tre Fiori, two sides who had themselves already dropped out of the Champions League qualifiers.

The tie will be played on September 24, with all qualifiers currently being staged behind closed doors and as single-leg ties, rather than on a home and away basis, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Celtic reached the last 32 of last season’s Europa League, while their Glasgow rivals Rangers made the last 16.

Steven Gerrard’s side will go to Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in the second qualifying round, and on Tuesday discovered they will face another trip, to either Willem II of the Netherlands or Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg, should they reach the next round.

Willem II, who sat fifth when the last Dutch season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak, would represent the tougher test, but Rangers were famously humiliated by Progres Nierderkorn in the Europa League qualifiers in 2017 before beating them last year.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur will go back to the Balkans if they get the better of Bulgaria’s Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the second qualifying round.

Their potential opponents in the following round are either Botosani of Romania or KF Shkendija of North Macedonia, meaning another awkward away trip in the early weeks of the new Premier League season.

Among the other British representatives, Aberdeen were given a potential plum tie away to Portuguese giants Sporting in Lisbon in the third qualifying round, although they must first hop across the North Sea to go to Norwegian Cup winners Viking Stavanger.

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