Football: Mario Balotelli on target for Nice, sluggish Celtic held in Champions League qualifiers

Nice's Mario Balotelli (right) in action during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, first leg soccer match between OGC Nice and Ajax Amsterdam in Nice, France on July 26, 2017.
Nice's Mario Balotelli (right) in action during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, first leg soccer match between OGC Nice and Ajax Amsterdam in Nice, France on July 26, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

Paris (AFP) - Mario Balotelli scored for Nice in a 1-1 draw at home to Ajax while Celtic laboured to a 0-0 stalemate against Rosenborg in the first leg of Wednesday's Champions League third qualifying round.

Italy striker Balotelli tapped home a cross from Jean Seri to fire Nice ahead on 32 minutes at the Allianz Riviera, but Donny van de Beek levelled for Ajax just after the break following a poor punch from goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale.

In Glasgow, Celtic struggled to break down Norwegian opponents Rosenberg without injured forward Moussa Dembele and striker Lee Griffiths, who was banned for one match by Uefa for "provoking spectators" in the previous round against Linfield.

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon produced a series of excellent stops to deny former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, Anders Konradsen and Matthias Vilhjalmsson, with the hosts fortunate to escape without serious damage.

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"0-0 is never a bad result in Europe. If you can't score it is important we don't concede," said Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers.

"I was pleased with the players. We were up against it a wee bit without strikers.

"They (Rosenborg) will want to come out a little bit more than they did, they will need to take the initiative. It is still evenly balanced."

Dynamo Kiev secured a 3-1 advantage over Swiss side Young Boys in Ukraine, while Brazilian midfielder Mossoro struck twice as Turkish runners-up Istanbul Basaksehir rallied from two goals down in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Club Brugge.

The return legs are scheduled for Aug 1-2.