Celtic’s Gary Mackay-Steven relishing Qarabag clash

Celtic Gary Mackay-Steven

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Gary Mackay-Steven thinks Celtic belong in the group stage of the Champions League but accepts they will need to be at their best if they are to get past Qarabag FK in the third qualifying round of the competition.

Celtic strolled to a 6-1 aggregate success against Icelandic side Stjarnan in the previous qualifying round but midfielder Mackay-Steven knows this week’s first-leg clash against the side from Azerbaijan will be tough.

Last season Celtic failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League and Mackay-Steven is desperate for there to be no repeat this term.

The 24-year-old former Dundee United star said: “We know Wednesday is a big game but we are relishing the opportunity to play at that level.

“We feel it’s where we belong. But actions speak louder than words. We have to show we can play at that level and produce the goods. You can talk all you want about how it’s a big club here. Everything is in place. But ultimately it’s what we do on the pitch that matters.”

Qarabag beat Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League last term and also gave a good account of themselves against Inter Milan and Dnipro in the group stage of the competition.

Celtic are available at 1.44 to win Wednesday’s first leg while a Qarabag victory can be backed at 7.00 and the draw is at 4.20.

Ronny Deila’s side warmed up for the game with a 2-0 victory against Rennes at the weekend as Leigh Griffiths and Mackay-Steven grabbed the goals.

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