Craig Gordon happy with Celtic’s Europa League permutation after slow start

Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon admits he would have jumped at the chance to take their Europa League campaign into the final group game at one stage.

The Scottish champions host Salzburg on Thursday knowing a point would guarantee progress to the last 32, but the Austrians have won all five matches so far in Group B.

Brendan Rodgers’ side suffered successive defeats before the halfway stage in the group but two wins have taken them three points ahead of third-placed RB Leipzig.

Celtic are likely to need the point on Thursday with the Germans boasting a superior head-to-head record and facing bottom side Rosenborg at home.

Gordon said: “We have put ourselves in a  good position to try and qualify, but it’s still a very difficult game. Nobody has managed to take anything from them as yet.

“But after the first few games in the group, it’s a position we would have definitely taken, to go into the last game still with a chance. We even probably would have taken the chance for three points to go through.

“But we have given ourselves a little bit of comfort but we will still go into the game looking to win it.”

The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Dynamo Kiev and Zenit St Petersburg have already qualified while Benfica and Valencia are sure to drop down from the Champions League.

Gordon said of potential qualification for Celtic: “It would still be a great achievement. When the group came out I think a lot of people wrote us off and said we wouldn’t be able to do that.

“We still have a tough task but we have that chance but that’s all we could ask for.

“If we were to get through it would be a great start to the new year being involved in the next round with the Champions League teams dropping back.

“It’s a great competition, one we want to do well in, but we have a big task ahead of us on Thursday night.”

The 35-year-old Scotland goalkeeper was speaking on a visit to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, where the Celtic FC Foundation handed over a £10,000 donation.

“It’s nice to realise how lucky we actually are in terms of the job that we do, to be able to come here and see the kids that are perhaps going to be in hospital over Christmas,” Gordon said. “It’s never nice to be in hospital especially at this time of year.

“So for us to give a little bit of our time to come here, it will hopefully cheer a few of the kids up, regardless of who they support, and just have a nice day with them.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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