x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Celtic face fall at the first hurdle

Scotland's runners-up could have to settle for the Europa Cup after their 1-0 home defeat to Dinamo Moscow.

One of Celtic's most embarrassing recent memories is the 5-4 aggregate defeat to Slovakian minnows Artmedia Bratislava, which saw them miss out on the 2005/06 Champions League group stages. Last season's runners-up in Scotland face an equally galling exit from this year's competition in the third qualifying round after a 1-0 home defeat to Russians Dinamo Moscow. Tony Mowbray's side, used to facing European heavyweights such as Milan and Barcelona in recent years, will likely be lining up against such household names as Vorskia Poltava and Amkar Perm instead as they drop down into the Europa League.

Marc-Antoine Fortune missed a host of chances in the defeat at Parkhead, but Mowbray backed his £3.8million (Dh23m) signing from French side Nancy. "We missed numerous chances," said Mowbray "Marc needs a goal but I have no concerns, he worked very hard for the team. "He hit the bar and a post in pre-season and if he gets one then he will be away." Elsewhere, Olympiakos look to have avoided a repeat of last year's early exit when they secured a 2-0 lead from the away leg at Slovan Bratislava.

Last season, Olympiakos lost 3-1 on aggregate to Cypriot outsiders Anorthosis Famagusta at the same stage and missed out on the Champions League group phase for the first time in 12 years. This year's "toast of Cyprus" could be Apoel Nicosia after they beat visiting Partizan Belgrade 2-0, but Sporting Lisbon, another Champions League regular in recent seasons, could only manage a 0-0 draw at home to Steve McClaren's Dutch side Twente.

twoods@thenational.ae