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Qarabag v Celtic: Gordon wants positivity from Scottish champions

SoccerNews in English Premier League 3 Aug 2015

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Celtic are looking to keep their UEFA Champions League hopes alive as they head to Azerbaijan for the second leg of their third qualifying round tie against FK Qarabag.

Ronny Deila’s Celtic hold a slender 1-0 lead thanks to a late header from defender Dedryck Boyata, meaning the Scottish champions have something to defend on the road on Wednesday.

The do-or-die encounter, which will see the winner advance to the final qualifying round, will go ahead at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, despite concerns over the state of the pitch.

However, goalkeeper Craig Gordon believes the visitors need to avoid being too cautious on their travels.

“Going over there is going to be very difficult. We are going to have to play a smart game defensively to come through it,” he told the club’s official website.

“It’s a very slender advantage and we still have to approach the tie looking to score a goal.

“We look to do that regardless of who we’re playing and what game we’re playing in. They have shown that they could have the quality to score against us, so we will be looking to carry a threat at the other end and cause them some problems as well.”

The surface may not help Celtic’s cause, with reports suggesting it is both uneven and in bad condition due to the extreme weather in Baku, although UEFA have no plans to switch the venue at short notice.

Celtic do at least go into the game off the back of a successful start to their domestic campaign, goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stefan Johansen seeing them to a 2-0 triumph over Ross County.

Griffiths broke the deadlock early on from the penalty spot but then had to be replaced after 18 minutes, though Deila was confident after the game that the forward would be fit to face Qarabag.

“I think it’s just a knock in his calf and hopefully he will be ready for Wednesday,” he told BBC Scotland.

Midfielder Nir Bitton is also expected to be available after sitting out the opening league game with an ankle problem.

Celtic missed out on the lucrative group stage of the competition last year. Defeat to Maribor meant they instead took part in the Europa League, reaching the last 32.

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