Celtic must summon up the spirit of 2006 if they are to repeat a famous victory over Manchester United in the Champions League.
Celtic need the spirit of 2006 against United
LONDON // Celtic must summon up the spirit of 2006 if they are to repeat a famous victory over Manchester United tonight in the Champions League. Two years ago Shunsuke Nakamura's late free kick gave Celtic a 1-0 Parkhead win over United that helped them into the knockout phase for the first time but this year the Scots, with one point from three games, are hanging on by their fingertips.
They were swept aside 3-0 at Old Trafford last month as two goals from Dimitar Berbatov and one from Wayne Rooney capped an impressive display by United. Another win would send them into the last 16 with two games to spare if AaB Alborg fail to beat Villarreal in Denmark, while a draw would be enough if the Spaniards win. Celtic have lost only one of their last 11 home Champions League games but they have yet to score in three matches this season and United have yet to concede.
United's defence was given a wake-up call at the weekend, however, when Hull scored three times at Old Trafford, leaving Alex Ferguson's team hanging on for a 4-3 victory having led 4-1. "We got a warning on Saturday, we have to make sure we finish teams off," goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said. "We must not stop halfway through the second half and start thinking about the next game." Celtic warmed up with a 2-0 win at Hearts that took them back to the top of the Scottish Premier League and manager Gordon Strachan dismissed suggestions that there was a big gap between the two British leagues.
"We didn't play as well as would have liked [at Old Trafford] but Man United are probably the best team in the world," he said. "Roma went there and got beat 7-0 but no-one said there was a big gulf between Italian football and English football. "West Ham went to Old Trafford last week and it was 2-0, it could have been six, West Brom went there and lost 4-0. "Everyone who goes there, who has spent more money than us, has got a right tonking.
"We got beaten 3-0 but two of the goals were offside so it's not as bad as people have been making out." Wes Brown seems unlikely to figure for United. He has missed United's last two games with an ankle injury. It means Gary Neville and Rafael Da Silva will contest the right-back slot in a United squad that is also missing injured midfield pair Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes. Angolan striker Manucho was also expected to miss the trip but the reserve team captain James Chester, 19, has been drafted into Ferguson's squad.