CELTIC’S Champions League rivals Cluj have warned Neil Lennon’s men they face a battle to reach the play-off stage.
The Romanians overcame Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-2 on aggregate following last night’s 2-2 draw in Israel at the same time the Hoops were easing to a 2-0 triumph and a 7-0 overall win against Nomme Kalju in Tallin.
Former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu saw his players put in a stirring backs-to-the-wall performance as they weathered a late onslaught from the home side to reach the third qualifying round.
Now they take on Neil Lennon’s men with the first leg in Romaia a week tonight and the return at Parkhead the following week.
Cluj sporting director Bogdan Mara believes the team will show the courage required against the eight-in-a-row Scottish title kings to derail their thoughts of reaching the money-spinning group stages of Europe’s most prestigious club competition for the third time in for years.
The club supremo, speaking in the Evening Times, said: “We know what Celtic are all about, especially on their own ground, but we will fight.
“Celtic is an historic team, a big name, these are two games that won’t be easy at all.
“But let’s embrace them. We hope to qualify again.”
Cluj players celebrated big-style well after the final whistle in Tel Aviv and former Romanian World Cup star Petrescu is determined to clear the Celtic hurdle and take their place among the elite.
He added: “We want to go even further, even to the Champions League groups.
“I think it’s possible. We have come through tough qualifiers against Astana and Maccabi.
“We don’t have a young team and this was seen in the second-half against Maccabi.
“The players of Maccabi had more freshness, but we knew how to earn the result ”