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CELTIC STAR TARGETS £1m JACKPOT

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CELTIC’S stylish playmaker Ryan Christie is aiming for the £1million Europa League jackpot.

The Hoops made certain of a place in the last-32 stages of the competition next year with two games still to play after their historic and memorable 2-1 victory over Lazio in Rome on Thursday night.

They still have to face Rennes in Glasgow on November 28 and travel to Romania for the final encounter in Group E against Champions League conquerors Cluj on December 12.

In terms of qualification, the contests were rendered meaningless the moment Olivier Ntcham, who had replaced Christie. raced onto a pass from Odsonne Edouard and deftly lifted the ball over the outstretched arms of Thomas Strakosha in the fifth minute of stoppage-time in the Olympic Stadium.

However, the Scotland international midfielder insists the two remaining encounters are MUST-WIN matches for Neil Lennon’s men.

A double triumph against the French and Romanian opponents will mean the champions will top their section – and pick up a bonus of £1million from UEFA for their efforts.

Christie, speaking to the Evening Times, looked back at the success at the Olympic Stadium and said: “It was unbelievable. It has to rank right up there with anything we’ve done, just in terms of the scale of the result.

“It meant so much, progressing at such an early stage from such a hard group. It’s really special to get that kind of result.

“You know about the previous achievements at the club, the likes of Barcelona, Seville and so on. To go out and do something to be part of that history was something really special. At the start of the season you hope to be involved in these kinds of big nights.

“I think the bravery we showed on the ball was incredible. To go away to Lazio and get a result was one thing, but to actually play some good football, as well, and score some good goals along the way was a credit to everybody involved.

“We had to show a lot of resilience again. We went a goal down, but there was no panicking. We managed to feel our way in to the game and we got the goal before half-time.”

Christie added: “The next thing for us is finishing top of the group. It would put us in a better place in terms of the draw for the next phase in the knock-out stages.

“We are desperate to finish top. We’ll still be full of confidence when we have Rennes at home and then away to Cluj. It’s amazing to have the knock-out stages tied up already, but we want to finish strong and win the group.”

 

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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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