THE sneaky Azerbaijanis of Qarabag ordered their pitch NOT to be watered for a total of more than 14 hours before their Champions League qualifier against Celtic.

Groundstaff were told to leave the scorched turf on the playing surface as it was from 7am on the day of the game.

It is also believed that Qarabag trained on their pitch at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium on Wednesday just hours before the match, which ended goalless and saw Celtic qualify for the Champions League play-off place.

The decision to keep the pitch as dry as possible was a clear tactic which the homes hoped would count against the Hoops.

The pitch, of which so much was talked about before the match, was in dire need of water and the dryness contributed to the ball bobbling about. When Qarabag trained on the ground it was around 30c.

Celtic dealt with the atrocious conditions and Ronny Deila was delighted not only with the result, but also the backing given to his team by the 200 supporters who managed to make themselves heard in such a partisan atmosphere.

The Hoops boss said: “I’d like to thank all our fans who supported us so brilliantly at the match.

“I know there were a number of fans living and working in Azerbaijan and it was obviously a rare chance for these fans to see the team in action.

“I also know that many more made the very long trip to Baku, not an easy journey, but our fans were there once again.

“It is magnificent wherever we go in the world to know we have such tremendous support and I can assure you that this makes a big difference to myself and the players.

“Knowing that we have our fans in the stadium giving us such passionate support is something which we are so grateful for and it is what makes Celtic such a special club.

“The atmosphere was fantastic, a credit to both sets of fans supporting their respective clubs. We played a very good team with energy and some great players, but over both legs I think we played well and deserved to go through to the play off stages.”

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