Celtic looking to end European campaign with a flourish

Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong is refusing to rule out the club finishing with a flourish in the Champions League tomorrow night, writes Andrew Smith.

Celtics Stuart Armstrong scores his sides third goal against Motherwell. Picture: SNS
Celtics Stuart Armstrong scores his sides third goal against Motherwell. Picture: SNS

Condemned to bottom slot in Group C, the Scottish champions face the invidious task of taking on Manchester City in their Etihad Stadium to bring their European adventure to a close this season.

With only one win on the road across 26 attempts in the competition’s group stages, their prospects against Pep Guardiola’s men appear bleak.

But Armstrong, a scoring contributor to Celtic’s comeback in Saturday 4-3 win at Motherwell, is willing to think the best – with a victory required to prevent this being the club’s first winless group stage in nine such campaigns.

“Of course, ending with a win would be the ideal finish,” said Armstrong. “The Champions League is a very tough competition, where the best players in Europe perform. If we give a good performance and develop and keep learning then we’ll be happy.

“After our initial poor performance in the Nou Camp [with the 7-0 defeat] we’ve done really well – the home game against Man City [that ended 3-3], the 1-1 away at Monchengladbach – and there were even positives signs among the 2-0 defeat at home to Barcelona.

“If we can emulate those performances against Man City and build on them and then focus on the league and Scottish Cup, that’ll be good.

Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 17 games – 16 of them wins – in overturning a 2-0 half-time deficit at Fir Park on Saturday, and Armstrong said: “Never say never but we have a huge belief in ourselves to play the way we want and we’re a flexible team and we can play attractive football at times, but we’ve shown we can battle as well and, against Motherwell, grind out results and performances when we need them.

“We take it game by game 
and always focus on the next fixture. We’ll enjoy this performance when we look back on it and enjoy the positive aspects of it and then we’ll look forward to our last Champions League fixture when we’re playing for a bit of pride.”