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FORREST’S EURO TARGET

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JAMES FORREST scored the equalising goal as Celtic came back to make history by beating Lazio 2-1 in Rome last season.

The winger fired in a brilliant first-half leveller before Olivier Ntcham cheekily dinked in the stoppage-time winner to give the Hoops their first victory on Italian soil in 13 attempts.

The performance of Neil Lennon’s side that evening showed they were up for the rigours of football at this level, but the wheels came off in an error-strewn 90 minutes against FC Copenhagen when their Europa League interests ended in a dismal 3-1 defeat in the east end of Glasgow.

Forrest, though, insists the team can negotiate the Champions League hurdles this time around and gatecrash the money-spinning group stages after two consecutive failures.

The nine-in-a-row champions will face three one-off clashes in the qualifiers before a two-legged play-off to join the elite as part of UEFA’s revamped competitions.

The Scotland international winger, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “We were really good away from home in the Champions League last season. We beat Sarajevo and Nomme Kalju away then scored in a draw with Cluj.

“We’d have gone through if they’d been one-off matches last season.

“The qualifiers will be one-off games in the new season, but we can look to them with some confidence.

“We’re used to playing teams in different countries and in different environments. The boys have gained a lot of experience.

“It can be a case of backs against the wall sometimes when you’re playing away from home, but we’ve managed to put in some big performances and get big results in Europe, including against Lazio.

“It will be different, but I think it will show the strength of character the players in the team have.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to get some positive results.”

Forrest has been a Euro specialist for Celts in recent years. As well as his vital strike in the Italian capital, he has netted in qualifiers against Rosenborg, AIK Stockholm and Cluj.

The 28-year-old was extremely disappointed to miss out on the Champions League and then going down to Copenhagen in the last 32 of the Europa.

However, he insisted: “There were disappointments in Europe, but there were a lot of positives, as well, and we can take that into this season.

“I scored in a few goals in European games last season and will obviously be trying to do so again if I can. But all the lads have shown they’re capable of scoring.

“Last season, the European campaign was really positive – apart from just a couple of bad results against Cluj and Copenhagen at home. We did really well in our Europa League group and played really well away to Copenhagen. But we didn’t do ourselves justice at home.

“The players all want to build on what we achieved in the Europa League last season.”

 
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