Celtic aim to deliver knockout blow in city of their finest hour

A win for Celtic against Benfica in Lisbon will guarantee them a place in the last 16

Celtic may never surpass their night in Lisbon in 1967 but they can achieve something special there this evening nonetheless. If Neil Lennon's team beat Benfica they will qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in five years.

It would be a remarkable success, at least as impressive as their regaining the Scottish Premier League title last season from Rangers. European competition is becoming harder and harder for Scottish clubs, given the relative financial struggles of the once-powerful Scottish league.

The knock-out stages of the European Cup are certainly not unfamiliar territory for Celtic. They famously won the competition 45 years ago, the first British side to do so, beating Internazionale 2-1. That was in the now-unused Estadio Nacional, which has since been usurped by the Estadio da Luz, where Celtic play tonight.

In 2006 and 2007, they also escaped from the group stage, losing to Barcelona and Milan in the last 16 respectively. This season they can make it back into the elite end of the European club game, having already beaten the Catalan giants.

That famous victory over Barcelona two weeks ago was one of the great European nights of the modern era at Celtic Park. It was surely the finest moment of Lennon's tenure so far. And it transformed Group G from an even fight for second place into one where, behind Barcelona, Celtic had a very obvious advantage.

Benfica are three points behind Celtic. If the Portuguese side lose, they cannot catch the Scots. A score draw, should Barcelona win at Spartak Moscow in the earlier kick-off, will also send Celtic through and Benfica out.

The hosts, then, may very well start the match knowing they need to win just to stay in the competition. The anxiety is all with the Portuguese side. Celtic assistant manager, Johan Mjallby, knows this. "We are in a great position," he said yesterday at Glasgow Airport ahead of the flight of the Celtic squad. "There is more pressure on Benfica because they really need to win this game."

Before the defeat of Barcelona there was another important moment, the 3-2 win at Spartak Moscow, Celtic's first away victory in the Champions League group stage. Celtic know how to win these matches and while Benfica have some excellent players, Celtic will not be overawed.

"It is a difficult game, it's a Champions League match away from home and we really respect Benfica, we think they are a really good side," said Mjallby. "But the confidence is there, we have shown that we can play away from home, so why not go out and nick that vital point?"

"[Benfica] are probably going to go all out to win the game and they are going to be strong at home, a good side going forward, well organised. But at the end of the day we have picked up a lot of confidence from our away games and we know that if we defend really well we can get something from this game."

Even if Celtic lose they will only need to better Benfica's result on 5 December, when the Portuguese side travel to Barcelona and Spartak Moscow come to Celtic Park.

Celtic have Scott Brown and Gary Hooper fit again. "Joe Ledley and Miku are back in contention and we have to wait to see how they are tonight when we train," said Mjallby.

Benfica: Artur, Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Almeida, Matic, Gaitan, Perez, Lima, Cardozo, Rodrigo

Celtic: Forster, Mulgrew, Wilson, Ambrose, Matthews, Commons, Brown, Ledley, Wanyama*, Lassad. Samaras

Kick-off Tonight, 7.45pm, Estadio da Luz

TV Sky Sports 2. Referee V Kassai (Hungary)

Odds: Benfica 1-2 Draw 10-3 Celtic 5-1

*one booking away from suspension

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Sport
Peter Moores was criticised for failing to handle top players when he last led the England team
sportFive years after being sacked from the job, Peter Moores to be named a cricket coach
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit