Celtic rely on home comforts for make-or-break challenge

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Celtic face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League tonight knowing they could either end the evening through to the knockout stages or out of the competition.

Both sides have six points from four games so far in Group D, which is topped by Milan and has Benfica at the bottom. If Milan avoid defeat at Benfica and Shakhtar win today, those two sides are guaranteed to reach the last 16. But if Celtic can beat Shakhtar by more than the two clear goals by which they lost the reverse leg in Ukraine, Gordon Strachan's side will be through for a second season in succession.

"We need to play common-sense football and not give the other team an advantage right away," Strachan said, adding that he did not know why Celtic have done so well at home in this tournament. "The advantage we have at home with the supporters is great but we get great support away from home as well."

In 15 home games to date in the Champions League proper, they have lost just once, and won 11 times. That contrasts with a dismal away record of just two draws from the same number of matches.

Since losing in Donetsk in the first match, Celtic have had home victories against Milan and Benfica either side of a 1-0 defeat in Benfica.

Strachan will wait until this morning to decide on the fitness of his first-choice goalkeeper, Artur Boruc, who missed Saturday's 3-0 win over Aberdeen with a toe problem. Mark Brown will deputise if the Pole does not make it. Paul Hartley also missed the Aberdeen game, with a virus, but is expected back tonight.

Strachan says the pressure of what is effectively a must-win game is nothing new for an Old Firm manager. "We play must-win games every week, trust me," Strachan said. "We might get a point and get our first away win in Milan, you can never plan in football. We just play and see how we get on."

Celtic (probable 4-4-2): Boruc; Caldwell, McManus, Kennedy, Naylor; McGeady, Brown, Hartley, Donati; McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Shakhtar Donetsk (probable 4-3-1-2): Pyatov; Srna, Chygrynskiy, Yezerskiy, Rat; Ilsinho, Hubschman, Fernandinho; Jadson; Lucarelli, Brandao.

Referee: B Layec (France).

Group D

Remaining fixtures: Today: Benfica v Milan; Celtic v Shakhtar Donetsk. 4 December: Milan v Celtic; Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica.

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