Bhoys feel the heat

PARIS: Celtic manager Tony Mowbray is under pressure to end a sorry run of home results that have left the Glasgow giants in a virtually must-win situation against Europa League rivals Hamburg today.

Fulham and Everton will also be in action, against Roma and Benfica, respectively but with the English Premier League sides sitting pretty atop their groups the pressure is all on Celtic.

After two of their six games the Scots are bottom of Group C with a point, and a three-point deficit to Rapid Vienna who held them 1-1 in Glasgow last time out.

Counting the scoreless draw with league opponents Motherwell last weekend, the Hoops now just have two wins from seven home games in all competitions so far this season.

All talk of a crisis has been stifled by Mowbray, and he remains defiant that his team have not been playing below par.

“I defy anyone to say there was a lack of effort and lack of determination about the way the team went about the job,” he said after the Motherwell result.

“If we had scored two of our 15 efforts on goal we would have been sitting here saying job done, let’s move on to next week.”

Everton are among five of the 12 group leaders that have won their first two group fixtures.

But the perfect record of David Moyes’ side could be tested by the fact they have never played Benfica, and are likely to still be without South African forward Steve Pienaar due to a knee injury.

After a win and a draw Fulham top Group E on four points and welcome Roma to Craven Cottage in the hope their coach, Claudio Ranieri, remembers little of the team from his spell as coach of Chelsea.

Going on statistics, Fulham have a good chance of coming out on top on what is the clubs’ first meeting.

Fulham have yet to lose a home match after 10 UEFA club competition fixtures, and Roma’s three trips to London in UEFA club competition have ended in two defeats and a 1-1 draw.

Valencia, winners of the competition in 2004, sit joint top of Group B with Lille ahead of hosting Slavia Prague.

Defending champions Shakhtar Donetsk, winners of the final UEFA Cup in 2009, top Group J with six points and will be looking to continue the pattern when they host second-placed Toulouse.

Toulouse may not be among the French giants but boast the killer striking talents of French international Andre-Pierre Gignac. — AFP

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