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LENNON, GERRARD FACE BEST OF BRITISH DUELS

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CELTIC and Rangers could be involved in Battle of Britain clashes when the Europa Cup last-32 draw is made in Nyon on Monday at midday.

Neil Lennon’s Hoops finished their Europa League Group E adventure with a 2-0 loss against Cluj in Romania last night – but had already won their section with four victories and a draw in their previous outings.

They go as a top seed and there is a possibility of a meeting with Premier League Wolves who thrashed Turkish outfit Besiktas 4-0 last night.

Steven Gerrard could see his side face either Manchester United or Arsenal in the knock-out stages where they would play the first game in Glasgow on February 20 with the return away seven days later.

With a couple of minutes to go at Ibrox last night, Gers were heading for a seeded berth, but Borna Barisic’s late own goal handed Swiss outfit Young Boys a 1-1 draw and dropped the Govan outfit to second in the section behind Porto who overcame Dick Advocaat’s Feyenoord 3-2.

The Glasgow rivals will NOT be paired in the ballot in the next round, as teams from the same country are kept apart until the last 16.

Lennon’s side will not face another meeting with Cluj and Gerrard’s men will avoid the Portuguese outfit.

That means there are 14 potential ties for each of the Scots. Being seeded does not necessarily protect Celtic from a tough test. After beating Lazio home and away in the group stage, they could return to the Stadio Olimpico to face Roma.

Alternative pairings for finishing top of their section could be ties against Bayer Leverkusen or Shakhtar Donetsk while, of course, there is the possibility of a meeting with the Molineux club.

Gers could rue losing that late goal against Young Boys and their potential Champions League drop-out opponents include last season’s semi-finalists Ajax, Antonio Conte’s high-flying Inter Milan and the RB Salzburg side that beat Brendan Rodgers’ team home and away last season.

And, intriguingly, an all-British tie could also be on the cards with Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Old Trafford outfit and Kieran Tierney’s London men among the seeded sides.

Other pairings could involve Lask, of Austria, Sweden’s Malmo and Mikael Lustig’s Gent, of Belgium.

 

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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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