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‘EXCITING’ AND ‘DISAPPOINTING’ FOR FORREST

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JAMES FORREST insists Celtic have hit their target by claiming a place in the Europa League knock-out stages, despite the 2-1 loss at home to RB Salzburg last night.

It looked as though Brendan Rodgers’ side had blown their opportunity, but, remarkably, Rosenborg snatched a late leveller against RB Leipzig in Germany to open the door for the Scottish champions.

The Hoops will now go into Monday’s draw to discover their opponents in the last-32 of the competition.

James Forrest, who put in a valiant shift against the impressive Austrians, said: “In the end, it’s exciting to be through, but it was a disappointing night in terms of the performance.

“It was maybe one of the hardest groups we could have got, but we’ve managed to do what we set out to do at the start of the season.

“We wanted to be in Europe after Christmas and we can now look forward to that.

“It’s a real boost for the staff, the fans and the players.”

Forrest’s team-mate Jozo Simunovic admitted it was “weird” as the Parkhead men booked their place in the next phase.

Now the Croatian defender is eager for Rodgers’ side to get a big name in the ballot.

The centre-half, who has returned to the team in the absence of hamstring victim Dedryck Boyata, said: “The feeling is weird.

“I’m never happy when I lose a game and we got beaten.

“But we are there, that’s the most important thing.

“We still have time till the next games, but give us a big team. Why not?”

Here is a list of teams Forrest, Simunovic and their team-mates could face in their bid to reach the last-16 of the competition:

Arsenal

Benfica

Real Betis

Chelsea

Dinamo Zagreb

Dynamo Kiev

Frankfurt

Genk

Inter Milan

Bayer Leverkusen

Napoli

Sevilla

Valencia

Villarreal

Zenit St Peterburg

*Ties are due on February 14/21.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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