By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Alashkert 0-3 Celtic: Visitors seal Champions League win
Last Updated: 10/07/18 8:12pm
Celtic cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win at Alashkert in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying preliminary round on Tuesday.
Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time with a neat, close-range finish - the France striker's first European goal for Celtic.
The visitors then scored twice more after the break thanks to well-taken late strikes from James Forrest (81) and Callum McGregor (90) to surely make next Wednesday's second leg in Glasgow a formality.
Alashkert: Cancarevic (6), Artak Yedigaryan (6), Voskanyan (6), Praznovsky (6), Daghbashy (6), Artur Yedigaryan (6), Sekulic (6), Dashyan (6), Grigoryan (6), Reis de Nenadovic (8), Nenadovic (5)
Subs: Romero (6), Simonyan (6), Manasyan (6)
Celtic: Gordon (7), Ajer (6), Hendry (7), Simunovic (6), Tierney (9), Brown (6), Ntcham (8), McGregor (8), Forrest (8), Edouard (8), Dembele (8)
Subs: Sinclair (7), Kouassi (6), Morgan (7)
Man of the match: Kieran Tierney
In scorching temperatures in Yerevan, the Scottish Premiership champions took some time to find their groove at the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium, but when they did, there was no stopping Brendan Rodgers' team.
With the game entering injury-time before the break, Celtic finally made their first-half pressure count with a breakthrough strike.
Not for the first time in the opening 45 minutes, the visitors got free down the left and after the ball fell kindly to Forrest in the box, the forward had an effort on goal.
However, despite making a hash of his shot, the ball somehow found its way through to Edouard, who was alert enough to redirect his team-mate's strike past Ognjen Cancarevic and into the back of the net.
Jack Hendry gave his team an almighty scare at the start of the second period after getting caught on the ball, only for Alashkert's Brazilian striker Jefferson Reis De Jesus to shoot straight at Craig Gordon with just the Celtic No 1 to beat.
Celtic skipper Scott Brown started having recovered from a knee injury he sustained against Shamrock Rovers on Saturday. But the visitors were missing a number of stars with injury, including Leigh Griffiths and Marvin Compper.
Alashkert boss Abraham Khashmanyan had no injury worries, with the Armenians playing their three new summer signings.
That near miss was a warning to Celtic, but thereafter the visitors were barely threatened, before doubling their lead with nine minutes to go.
After a right-wing corner was swung to the far post, a scramble ensued in the area, with the ball then dropping invitingly at the feet of Forrest eight yards from goal.
The forward made no mistake with a simple finish to end any hopes the Armenian champions may have had of getting back in the contest.
In the final minute, McGregor added the icing on the cake with a third after a fine dribble across the area by Forrest, who fed the Scotland midfielder, and he slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Man of the Match - Kieran Tierney
The young Scotland international played the whole game as a virtual left winger, in the process helping to give his side some much-needed width.
And on the basis of this energetic display, you can see why a number of Premier League clubs - including Everton - are reportedly chasing the left back.
Celtic take on Alashkert in the return leg at Celtic Park a week on Wednesday, with the second-leg clash kicking off at 7.45pm.