Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football Scottish Celtic

Celtic can cause a stir in Europa League, insists Dembele

Moussa Dembele is confident Celtic can make an impact in the Europa League as they survey a last-32 tie against Zenit St Petersburg.

The Hoops, who finished third in the Champions League group, were paired on Monday with the Russian club, who topped their Europa League section with five wins and a draw.

The first leg is at Celtic Park on February 15 with the return game in St Petersburg a week later.

The 21-year-old French striker said: "I think it's a good team to play. As a footballer you have to be ready to play against any team and we will be ready.

"I think we're good enough to make a mark on the competition, otherwise we wouldn't be there.

"We were in the Champions League and it didn't really go our way but we learn from our mistakes.

"Now we have the chance to play in Europe after Christmas, so we need to train hard and make sure we are ready to compete."

The capacity of Zenit's stadium is set to be cut for the visit of Celtic as the Russian club again found themselves in hot water with UEFA.

European football's governing body opened up disciplinary proceedings following the Europa League group stage match between Real Sociedad and Zenit at Anoeta on December 7, which was won 3-1 by the visitors. 

Zenit were charged with acts of damage, setting off of a firework, throwing of objects and lack of order inside the stadium and the case will be dealt with by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body on February 22, the day of the home match against the Hoops.

UEFA have already ordered a partial closure of the 56,000-plus capacity Saint Petersburg stadium for their next match.

The Russian club were found guilty of racist behaviour through a ''discriminatory banner'' praising former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic and setting off fireworks during the home 2-1 Europa League group stage win against Macedonian side FK Vardar on November 23.

Zenit were also fined 10,000 euro (£8,800) and told to put on display a banner with the wording ''#EqualGame'' and the UEFA logo on it.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph