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Thursday 26 May 2016

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Benfica will be tough but Celtic are ready

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 19/11/2012

Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn takes on Kris Commons
Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn takes on Kris Commons

Celtic defender Efe Ambrose is determined to follow up the club’s historic win over Barcelona with another good result when they return to Champions League action tomorrow.

Benfica will be tough but Hoops are readyThat’s my Bhoy: Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn takes on Kris Commons

The Hoops travel to the Estadio da Luz to face Benfica and while Ambrose accepts his side face a tough challenge, he believes the momentum is with Celtic.

“We know the Benfica game is going to be another difficult game for us,” he said. “We are going to work hard to maintain the same levels we have been used to in the Champions League.

“We are not going there to lose. They are a good team and they have great fans and a good atmosphere, but they know that Celtic are not just there to be run over.

“We have beaten Barcelona and Spartak Moscow, so it will be a different atmosphere.

“If they lose the game, they are out so we know they're going to give it their all, but we are going to make sure we do the same and not be overawed by the surroundings or the fans.”

Ambrose admitted patience was the key on Saturday as Celtic eventually overcame Aberdeen thanks to goals in the final 17 minutes from Lassad Nouioui and Charlie Mulgrew.

It had been an evenly-matched affair in front of a crowd of 18,032 at Pittodrie, until Nouioui stroked home after Victor Wanyama's powerful strike had crashed back off the post.

Mulgrew added a second goal four minutes later, acrobatically sending a ball from Georgios Samaras past his former Dons team-mate Jamie Langfield.

Celtic had gone three games without a win in the Clydesdale

Bank Premier League, losing to Kilmarnock before draws against Dundee United and St Johnstone, so Ambrose was delighted to return to winning ways.

The Nigerian said: “To get back to winning is a great feeling. The past two or three games in the league have not been good for us. We've lost points and conceded goals, but this is football.

“We had to be patient and take our chances when they came. The manager asked us to be patient, because the goals would come, even if it took until the 95th minute.”

Aberdeen midfielder Isaac Osbourne, meanwhile, acknowledged it was a missed opportunity for the Dons, who remain in third place in the SPL but slipped four points behind Celtic, who took top spot with their win.

“The game was even all the way through,” he said. “I'm not saying we played well because not enough of us showed up today.

“When you're drawing you say to yourself at least take a draw out of the game. I don't think it was good enough on our part. We were at home, the fans were really behind us and Celtic were there for the beating.

“We just didn't take advantage of it. I feel like it's a missed opportunity — not just for the team but myself as well — and hopefully we can redeem ourselves against Hibs next week.

“They are flying at the moment, but we owe ourselves and the fans a performance, so we're positive we can get a result.”

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