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Strachan rushes to defence of Celtic's foreign encounters

Shakhtar Donetsk's head coach, Mircea Lucescu, paid Gordon Strachan the unlikely compliment of comparing the Celtic manager to one of the England's World Cup heroes, Nobby Stiles.

Lucescu was technical director to his national side when Strachan helped Scotland to a 3-0 win at Hampden in 1986 and the former Reggiana, Internazionale and Besiktas coach, who is preparing his team for tonight's first Champions League Group D match here, recalled previous encounters with Scotland.

"When I was a very young coach in 1986 we played Scotland and we lost 3-0 in Glasgow. [Kenny] Dalglish was playing – he was fantastic – and Strachan played in that match also. He was like Nobby Stiles, the England player of 1966, a fantastic player, strong running with very good technique."

Strachan himself insisted the Parkhead side's away record in the Champions League is improving. Last season, they were beaten away by Manchester United, FC Copenhagen and Benfica but still managed to get through to the group stages with nine points garnered at home.

Strachan bristled at the mention of Celtic's away displays. He said: "If you count AC Milan taking over 100 minutes trying to score against us last season and then us drawing against Spartak as poor, then fair enough. I think it's good.

"I can't answer for every Celtic team that has played away in the Champions League. I can only deal with what I've been dealing with and I think we have improved over the last couple of years.

"This is a new side and so far this new side has knocked out a very good side [Spartak] so we have to use that. I can't use results from six or seven years ago to talk to my team, because that has gone, it's finished. We look to the future and the future is tomorrow night."

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