PARIS (AFP) –
Celtic will rely on an impressive European home record as they seek to finish the job against Helsingborgs on Wednesday and reach the Champions League group stage for the first time in four years.
Neil Lennon’s side are 2-0 up from last week’s first leg in Sweden, with goals from Kris Commons and Giorgos Samaras leaving the Scottish champions in the driving seat.
Celtic’s recent record in continental competitions has been poor, hence their absence from the Champions League proper since 2008-09, when they bowed out with just five points from six group games.
However, their Parkhead home has always been a testing venue for visiting sides, with Celtic having lost just one of their last eight European games in Glasgow’s east end.
After watching his side win 4-2 at Inverness on Saturday to return to the top of the Scottish Premier League, manager Lennon is now keeping his fingers crossed that they can finish the job in Europe.
“The tie is still to be won,” said the Northern Irishman.
“The expectation level has gone through the roof and everyone has us in the Champions League already.
“I don’t. We still have to play a really tough game. But I’ve had a good feeling from the players. They really are motivated. They are in a great position after the first leg.
“Helsingborgs proved they are good opposition but with our form at home, I’d expect us to play strongly.”
Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Lucien Favre admitted that the Foals, European Cup finalists in 1977, have their work cut out if they are to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit when they face Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine.
“When you make mistakes like we did, it is hard to get a good result,” he said after seeing his side surrender an early lead in Germany.
“But in football, anything is possible.”
Elsewhere, Lille of France will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit when they host FC Copenhagen.
The 10 play-off winners will join 22 automatic qualifiers in Thursday’s group phase draw in Monaco.