Celtic to play off against the Gunners in ‘Battle of Britain’

AFP , PARIS

Sat, Aug 08, 2009 - Page 20

Celtic were brought back to earth with a bump yesterday after being drawn with English Premier League giants Arsenal in the draw for the play-off stage of the Champions League.

Celtic maintained their interest in Europe’s premier club competition on Wednesday by overcoming a 1-0 first-leg defeat to Dynamo Moscow in third round qualifying to win the second leg in Russia 2-0.

The Scottish Premier League runners-up will now have to better Arsenal over two legs, however, if they are to become one of the 10 teams from the draw to join the 22 already qualified for the lucrative group stages.

Elsewhere in the draw, composed of 10 champions group teams and 10 non-champions groups teams, there were few major shocks — and a couple of clubs with smiles on their faces.

Former French champions Lyon, who over the years have consistently made the quarter-finals of the competition, were handed what looked a plum draw against Belgian league runners-up Anderlecht.

Two of the tightest battles for a group stage spot could take place between Sporting Lisbon and Italians Fiorentina, and Greek side Panathinaikos, who were drawn with Atletico Madrid.

The other draw in the non-champions group pitted German side VfB Stuttgart with Romanian outfit Timisoara.

Meanwhile, there were some unpredictable match-ups in the ‘champions group’ draw.

Greek champions Olympiakos will play the first of their two legs against FC Sheriff in Moldova, while Austrian champions FC Salzburg will host Israeli counterparts Maccabi Haifa.

Ventspils, bidding to become the first Latvian side in the group stages, will host Swiss counterparts FC Zurich in the first leg.

Danish champions FC Copenhagen host Apoel Nicosia of Cyprus in the first leg, while Bulgarian title-winners Levski Sofia host Hungarian champions Debrecen.

The first legs of the play-offs will be held on Aug. 18 and Aug. 19, with the second legs held on Aug. 25 and Aug. 26. The winners go into the group stages, while the losers drop into the inaugural Europa League group stage.

The draw for the group stages of the Champions League is composed of 32 teams and will be held in Monaco on Aug. 27.

Champions League play-off draw:

Champions group

• Sheriff v Olympiakos

• Salzburg v Maccabi Haifa

• Ventspils v FC Zurich

• Copenhagen v Apoel Nicosia

• Levski Sofia v Debrecen

Non-champions group

• Lyon v Anderlecht

• Celtic v Arsenal

• Timisoara v VfB Stuttgart

• Sporting v Fiorentina

• Panathinaikos v Atl. Madrid

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