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UEFA Champions League Preview: Celtic, Lyon out to overturn deficits

By Football News



Celtic and Lyon will attempt to overturn deficits in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off fixtures on Wednesday.

With a place in the group stages of Europe's premier club competition up for grabs, the stakes will be high, with Celtic seeking to respond from their 2-0 defeat at Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan in the first leg.

Celtic had more shots on goal than their opponents in the first leg but were made to pay for their profligacy, as strikes from Andrei Finonchenko and Sergei Khizhnichenko put them on the back foot.

The 1967 European Cup winners reached the round of 16 in the competition last year after a sensational run included group-stage triumphs over Barcelona and Spartak Moscow.

And Celtic manager Neil Lennon is remaining confident about his side's hopes.

He said: "The tie is far from over. We've got plenty in us to turn the deficit around and the players will be very, very motivated.

"There will be a few players who will be disappointed with their performances (in the first leg), but we're still well in this tie, although we've got a lot to do."

Lyon – who reached the semi-finals of the 2009-10 Champions League – are up against it when they travel to Spain to face Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

Outstanding goals from Antoine Griezmann and Haris Seferovic helped Sociedad to a 2-0 win in the first leg at Stade de Gerland.

Lyon followed up that defeat with a 1-0 Ligue 1 loss to Reims, also at home, and Remi Garde's side will need to produce something special if they are to reach the group stages.

Premier League outfit Arsenal should ease their way into the next stage of the Champions League after defeating Fenerbahce 3-0 in the first leg in Turkey.

Arsene Wenger's side have reached the group stages for the last 15 seasons and should have no problems at the Emirates Stadium in the second leg on Tuesday.

Stephan El Shaarawy's early goal helped Italian giants Milan to a 1-1 draw at PSV last week, and Massimiliano Allegri's men will feel confident ahead of the second leg.

Milan were surprise losers to Verona on Saturday in Serie, A but should have enough about them to see off their Eredivisie opponents.

Schalke reached the last four of the Champions League in the 2010-11 season but only take a 1-1 scoreline into the second leg of their tie against PAOK Salonika, also to be played on Tuesday.

Miroslav Stoch scored with 17 minutes remaining for PAOK in the first leg, and with home advantage in Greece, they will be looking to cause an upset.

Other fixtures to be played on Tuesday see Austria Vienna take a 2-0 lead into a home match against Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, while Poland's Legia Warsaw host Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest with the score locked at 1-1.

And Bulgaria's Ludogorets trail 4-2 against FC Basel ahead of the second leg in Switzerland.

Ties on Wednesday see Slovenia's Maribor travel to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Plzen with a 3-1 deficit, while Zenit St Petersburg should be comfortable winners against Portugal's Pacos de Ferreira.

Zenit won the first leg 4-1 on the road last week thanks to a hat-trick from midfielder Roman Shirokov.