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RODGERS ON EURO TIGHTROPE

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BRENDAN RODGERS is poised to step onto the Champions League tightrope at Parkhead tonight.

The Irishman is following previous bosses Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan and Neil Lennon who have also known the tension in crucial, make-or-break European qualifying encounters in the east end of Glasgow.

Here are five ties from the past:

CELTIC 0 AJAX 1 (Agg:3-2) Champions League qualifier 2001/02
 
MARTIN O’NEILL had his first crack at Europe’s elite tournament after guiding rejuvenated Celtic to the domestic treble in his debut season.
 
The Hoops had a remarkable 3-1 victory over the Dutch champions in the Amsterdam ArenA with Bobby Petta, Chris Sutton and Didier Agathe on target. Ajax’s consolation goal was claimed by future Ranger Shota Arveladze.
 
O’Neill must have been confident of the Hoops reaching the group stages, but the Parkhead faithful had to endure 90 minutes’ worth of anxiety and tension in Glasgow in the return leg when Brazilian Wamberto snatched a goal on the half-hour mark.
 
Celtic hung on for the win that took them through for titanic clashes against Juventus, Porto and Rosenborg.
 
TEAM: Douglas; Boyd, Valgaeren, Mjallby; Agathe, McNamara, Lennon, Lambert, Guppy; Sutton, Larsson.

*** 
 
CELTIC 1 MTK BUDAPEST 0 (Agg: 5-0) Champions League qualifier 2003/04
 
CELTIC were still recovering from their near-miss in the UEFA Cup Final against Jose Mourinho’s Porto in Seville when they faced the Hungarians.
 
The tie was effectively over after a 4-0 first leg win in Budapest with goals from Henrik Larsson, Didier Agathe, Stan Petrov and Chris Sutton.
 
Former England striker Sutton, Martin O’Neill’s first buy for the club at £6million from Chelsea in the summer of 2000, made certain with the winner in Glasgow as the Hoops eased through to play Bayern Munich, Lyon and Anderlecht in the group stages.
 
TEAM: Hedman; Varga, Balde, Crainey; Agathe, Miller, Lambert, Petrov, Thompson; Sutton, Larsson. 

***
 
CELTIC 1 SPARTAK MOSCOW 1 (Agg: 2-2) Champions League qualifier 2007/08
(Celtic win 4-3 on pens)
 
ARTUR BORUC was the hero with two fabulous penalty-kick saves after the encounter ended in deadlock.
 
Gordon Strachan’s side had given themselves a great chance of going through with a 1-1 draw in the Russian capital where Paul Hartley scored a superb headed goal.
 
In Glasgow, Scott McDonald’s opener was cancelled out by Roman Pavlyuchenko just before half-time. Following extra-time, the tie went to a spot-kick decider.
 
The Polish international keeper saved from Ivan Titov and Max Kalinichenko while Sunsuke Nakamura was the Hoops’ spot-kick culprit with an effort that smacked against the bar.
 
TEAM: Boruc; Wilson, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura, Brown, Donati, McGeady; McDonald, Venegoor of Hesselink.

***
 
CELTIC 2 HELSINGBORGS 0 (Agg: 4-0) Champions League play-off 2012/13
 
THE Hoops reached the Champions League group stages for the first time in four years with a comfortable two-legged victory over the Swedes.
 
Goals from Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras in the first leg set up the Scottish champions for a stroll in the return game in Glasgow.
 
Gary Hooper made sure of qualification with a 30th-minute strike before a header from Victor Wanyama in the closing stages put a gloss on the scoreline.
 
TEAM: Forster; Matthews, Wilson, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Commons; Samaras, Hooper. 
 
*** 

CELTIC 3 SHAKHTAR KARAGANDY 0 (Agg: 3-2) Champions League play-off 2013/14
 
IT was a night of high drama at a rocking Celtic Park as the Hoops attempted to come back from a 2-0 first leg defeat in Kazakhstan.
 
Nine months earlier, Neil Lennon’s team had beaten mighty Barcelona 2-1 to reach the last 16 of the tournament. Now they were 90 minutes away from oblivion.
 
Just before half-time, Kris Commons scored with an outstanding long-range swerving effort and Georgios Samaras levelled the tie shortly after the turnaround.
 
With time ticking down and extra-time looming, James Forrest slammed in a sensational winner after a great run and pass from Anthony Stokes.
 
TEAM: Forster; Matthews, Ambrose, Mulgrew, Lustig; Forrest, Brown, Ledley, Commons; Samaras, Stokes.
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