Celtic man on loan secures UEFA Europa League qualification

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Celtic loanee Conor Hazard will play in the UEFA Europa League group stage this season after qualifying with HJK Helsinki.

The 24-year-old is currently spending the year on loan after joining the Finnish side in the January winter window.

So far this season, the Northern Irishman has taken plenty of playing time, making 25 appearances and keeping 11 clean sheets in those games.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Most of Hazard’s appearances have been in the league, with the current Finnish champions sitting 3rd in the Veikkausliiga, level on points with the two teams sitting above them.

However, he was also involved in European qualifying from the Champions League 1st qualifying round. But, his team was unfortunately knocked down by Viktoria Plzen, who reached the group stages of the competition.

Helsinki dropped out in the next qualifying stages for the Europa League groups, joining in the 3rd round to face Maribor.

Having comfortably seen the Slovenian side, all that remained between a Europa League place for the champions of Finland was Danish club Silkeborg.

Last night Hazard and his teammates secured their place in Europe’s second biggest club tournament, beating Silkeborg 2-1 on aggregate.

The Celtic loanee can now hope to play against teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal or Monaco, with the draw for the competition due to take place later today.

Of course, this won’t be Hazard’s first Europa League outing after making a competitive European appearance for the Hoops.

The goalkeeper was between the sticks for Celtic’s 3-2 win over Lille at Celtic Park under Neil Lennon in the 2020/21 campaign.

Going out on loan gave Hazard the chance to play regular football, and now he will do so against some of the best club teams across Europe.

With HJK Helsinki’s league season set to end in a month, this should be an even bigger test for the Northern Ireland international to keep up with the huge tests against fantastic players.

In other news, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti reacts to Celtic’s draw.

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