LISBON Lion John Hughes reckons Celtic WILL score against Inter Milan in the San Siro tomorrow night.
But the ex-Hoops favourite – the original Yogi – has fears about the defence’s ability to shut out the Italians in the Europa League encounter.
Hughes, who played in five of the eight games in the Parkhead side’s march towards their European Cup success in 1967, said: ‘At the moment Celtic are out. It’s as simple as that.
‘They need to score in the San Siro and I know from past experiences that is not an easy thing to do.
‘I played there in a goalless draw against AC Milan in 1969 and we thought we were all set for the second leg at our place and a spot in the semi-final.
‘They got one chance in Glasgow, took it, went through and eventually won the trophy after beating Ajax 4-1 in the Final.
‘I recall I had one opportunity in the first game which was played in a blizzard with tricky underfoot conditions.
‘I managed to get past three or four challenges and hit a shot at goal that almost knocked their goalkeeper into the net.
‘A foot either side of the keeper and it would have been a goal. These are the fine margins between success and failure in Europe.
‘I can definitely see Celtic scoring in Milan. I was at the first leg last week and I wasn’t convinced with the Italians’ defending.
‘Now that’s unusual when you think of Inter’s reputation. Their past successes have all been built on a solid backline.
‘But openings were being made at Parkhead and we scored three goals, but we could have had a couple of others.
‘So, I believe we will get opportunities, but the trick is to take them because Inter, too, will get chances.
‘The 3-3 draw was an exciting game to watch and Ronny Deila’s team are to be commended for coming back from two goals down early on.
‘That took some doing and they deserve credit for doing so.
‘But, at the end of the day, the Italians are the team with a foothold in the last 16.
‘They can play for a scoreless draw, or even 1-1 or 2-2 and go through on the goals away rule. I don’t think they’ll do that, though.
‘Undoubtedly, they will be heartened by the fact they could score three goals away from home in front of a partizan crowd.’
Hughes, 71, also hopes Craig Gordon gets protection from the defenders in front of him.
He added: ‘Craig has been in wonderful form all season and was due a bad game. It was just a pity it came in such a crucial match.
‘But we have seen enough to realise he is a top-class keeper and he’ll get the opportunity to prove that again in the San Siro.
‘However, he really needs the guys in front of him to be focused and concentrating throughout.
‘Virgil Van Dijk and Jason Denayer look comfortable going forward, but they’ll have to be careful not to leave holes behind them when they venture into attack.
‘Emilio Izaguirre, too, should remember he is a left-back and his main role is to defend.
‘As I said, I can see Celtic scoring, but that won’t mean anything if the back lot don’t perform as you would expect or hope.’
Meanwhile Big Yogi is the latest Celtic legend to be confirmed for CQN 11 – CQN’s annual fund raising dinner at Kerrydale Suite at Celtic Park on Friday 13th March. He joins the likes of Tom Boyd, Tommy Coyne, Pat Bonner, Joe Miller and others to be announced. The event raises money to build school kitchens in Malwai with Mary’s Meals. If you would like to attend CQN 11 please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Signed copies of Yogi’s excellent biography, YOGI BARE, are available from www.cqnbookstore.com for only £14.99 for UK and Ireland including P&P. Slightly more expensive for rest of the world. Order here: