Celtic need Sutton return for tough trip to Barcelona

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Celtic stayed alive in the Champions' League with a 1-0 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, but the Scottish side's away form in Europe suggests they are living on borrowed time.

Celtic stayed alive in the Champions' League with a 1-0 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, but the Scottish side's away form in Europe suggests they are living on borrowed time.

Alan Thompson's first-half free-kick avenged a 3-0 defeat in Donetsk last month, but Celtic now need two more wins in their final Group F games against Milan and Barcelona to maintain their slender hopes of reaching the knock-out phase.

"We have to have the belief that we can get something from the last two games," Thompson said.

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, admitted that his side had tired badly against a Shakhtar side reduced to nine men - Anatoly Tymoshchuk and Cosmin Barcauan were sent off either side of half-time for late challenges - after a fourth game in nine days.

Stilian Petrov said yesterday that Celtic would not fear going to the Nou Camp in three weeks' time for their next Champions' League game. The Bulgarian believes they can draw inspiration from their goalless draw in the Catalan capital last season which sent Barcelona out of the Uefa Cup. Frank Rijkaard, the Barcelona coach, has since brought in a number of new players - including the former Celtic striker Henrik Larsson - and they beat the Scots 3-1 in Glasgow.

Ronaldinho is also in great form having hit the winner against Milan on Tuesday to put them level with the Italians at the top of Group F, but Petrov still believes that a win in Catalonia is not beyond Celtic.

"We know Barcelona are a good team with some great players," he said. "But we are now back in with a shout and we have nothing to fear. We will try to do our best when we go there and we only have to remember how well we played there in the Uefa Cup and also at Parkhead here in the Champions' League.

"We know how hard it is going to be but we are at our best when nobody expects us to get anything from the game," Petrov added. "We have got three points now and we will be going over there for the three points. That's easier said than done but there's no reason why we can't go there and shock them."

He said the return of Chris Sutton will be vital to their hopes of getting a win. The versatile Englishman has been out with a chest and shoulder problem but he should be back in time for the trip to Barcelona.

"We hope we have everybody fit for that one," said Petrov. "We have a few injuries at the minute and it would be better for us to go there at full strength. Chris is a big player for us and when he plays he gives us a big lift and we will need him over there."

Petrov is convinced that Celtic will use their win over Shakhtar as the springboard to finish third in the group and book a Uefa Cup place. However, the Scottish champions still have not given up hope of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

That looks beyond them with Barcelona and Milan six points clear of them with two games remaining and with both having a much better goal difference. The consolation of a Uefa Cup place beyond Christmas is now their more realistic hope but even that is tough with Shakhtar also above them after their convincing win in the Ukraine.

Celtic face Milan at Parkhead after the Barça trip but Petrov is confident that they can pick up more points than Shakhtar. "We are looking forward in the competition now and I think we can get results from our next two games and finish above Shakhtar," he said. "We have not been keeping too many clean sheets in the past few weeks and it's very important to that in our next two games.

"Hopefully we have turned the corner now with this one but we will still need to work hard to make sure that the mistakes don't creep back."

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