HJK Helsinki v Celtic preview
Scottish giants take a slender 2-1 lead
By Subhankar Mondal. Last Updated: August 8, 2012 10:00am
Celtic: The Hoops need just a draw to progress to the Champions League play-offs
Celtic will head into the second leg of their Champions League third round qualifier against HJK Helsinki on Wednesday with confidence.
The defending Scottish champions got the better of their Finnish opponents 2-1 in the first leg at home last week, and know that a draw will be enough to progress to the play-offs.
However, the Hoops had to overcome a scare as it was HJK who broke the deadlock first at Celtic Park, with Gary Hooper and Charlie Mulgrew finding the target in the second half to make sure that Neil Lennon's side retain the advantage.
However, Celtic cannot make the same mistake of going behind in Helsinki, and Lennon insists that his players will aim to score.
"We will be trying to go and win the game," he said. "We feel we created plenty of chances in the first game although it's a totally different environment.
"It's very difficult to set a team out to play for a draw. I'm not too sure we have too many players who have that mindset.
"It's not an SPL game so we have to approach it differently but we are not coming here to sit back and defend all night because that can bring enough problems.
"We will try to score a goal or maybe two in the game if we can, but a clean sheet will get us through and we will focus on that as well."
Celtic's 1-0 victory over Aberdeen in their opening game of the Scottish Premier League at the weekend will also give them a morale boost and enhance their confidence.
Meanwhile, HJK coach Antti Muurinen too insists that he is going to adopt an attacking approach and is confident that his players have what it takes to get the better of the Scottish giants despite being the underdogs.
"We played well in Glasgow and we have a chance to win the tie," he explained. "Celtic are tough opponents but we had our spells in the away game and we created chances for more than one goal.
"We are the underdogs and all the pressure is on Celtic, but we really want to show what we can do and we believe we can win this tie."
HJK will head into the game on the back of a 3-3 home draw with Vaasa on Saturday that saw them slip four points behind leaders Inter Turku.
Celtic will have defender Mulgrew back after he missed the clash with Aberdeen at the weekend because of suspension.
Winger James Forrest, though, is likely to be out as he is suffering from a groin problem. Club captain Scott Brown is struggling as well.
Striker Mohamed Bangura has been left out of the squad altogether, while forward Georgios Samaras is back to full fitness after sustaining a knock on his face.
UEFA Champions League Qualifying
Wed 8th Aug - Third Round
F91 Dudelange0 - 1Maribor
Neftchi2 - 2Hapoel KS
Helsingborgs3 - 1Sl Wroclaw
Slovan Liberec1 - 2Cluj
HJK Helsinki0 - 2Celtic
FK Ekranas0 - 6Anderlecht
FC Vaslui1 - 4Fenerbahce
Basel1 - 1Molde
Club Brugge2 - 3FC Cop'hagen
Panathinaikos3 - 0Motherwell
Partizan0 - 1AEL
Din Zagreb4 - 0Sh Tiraspol