Celtic Loanee close to sealing Europa League group stage qualification

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Celtic Loanman Conor Hazard is set to qualify for the Europa League group stages.

The goalkeeper joined HJK Helsinki on loan in January and has been virtually omnipresent between the sticks since then, making 23 starts and keeping 11 clean sheets.

He could now add Europa League group stage football to his CV if HJK ​​manage to build on their 1-0 first leg win over Danish side Silkeborg IF on Thursday.

HJK were originally in the Champions League qualifiers but were knocked out by Czech side Viktoria Plzen in a 7-1 aggregate demolition.

Even if they fail to progress against Silkeborg Hazard and co. will participate in the UEFA Conference League, a competition in which the club participated last season.

After the first leg win over Silkeborg – in which Hazard was not forced into a single save – head coach Toni Koskela hailed his side’s performance.

He said, “In my opinion [this was] our best match in these European games so far.

“The first half was good, the second was a bit more difficult – we were too deep and of course the opponents also improved their own game.

“They made it harder for us to stay high and we lost a few easy balls. However, we can take a lot of positives from this performance and this result.”

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