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David Luiz's stunning pool volley

The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Hoops' Strachan sets sights on landmark win

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan called for perspective as he insisted the Parkhead side's dreadful away record in the Champions League is improving.

The Scottish champions have never won away from Glasgow since the old European Cup was rebranded, but they have another chance to make amends tomorrow night against Shakhtar Donetsk at the RSC Olympiyskiy Stadium in their first Group D fixture.

Strachan's side lost 5-0 to Artmedia Bratislava in his first Champions League qualifier at the start of season 2005/06, a result which effectively ended their European aspirations for that campaign.

Last season, the Parkhead side were beaten away by Manchester United, FC Copenhagen and Benfica but still managed to get through to the group stages with nine points garnered at home.

Celtic lost to eventual winners AC Milan in the last 16 through a Kaka goal in extra-time at the San Siro.

The Parkhead side drew 1-1 against Spartak Moscow in the Luzhniki Stadium in the first leg of this season's third qualifying round before going through on penalties to join Shakhtar, AC Milan and Benfica in a tricky group.

Strachan bristled at the inevitable mention of Celtic's away form in the Champions League.

He said: 'If you count AC Milan taking over 100 minutes trying to score against us last season and then us drawing against Spartak as poor, then fair enough. I think it's good.

'Most teams have a better home record than away record, but we are getting better.

'I can't answer for every Celtic team that has played away in the Champions League.

'I can only deal with what I've been dealing with and I think we have improved over the last couple of years.

'This is a new side and so far this new side has knocked out a very good side (Spartak) so we have to use that.

'I can't use results from six or seven years ago to talk to my team, because that has gone, it's finished.

'We look to the future and the future is tomorrow night.'

Strachan insists the structure of the group stages makes the game against Shakhtar less intense than the pressures of trying to qualify past Spartak Moscow.

He said: 'We enjoyed the intensity about the home and away aspect of the Spartak Moscow tie.

'It was like going back 15 years, there was an excitement and a thrill about those games that you don't get in the group stages of the Champions League.

'People ask me if it will be a disaster if we lose tomorrow.

'Well, we lost the first game at Manchester United last year and still qualified. That is the difference.'

Shakhtar spent £40million re-building their squad over the summer and that investment looks to have paid off given their position at the top of the table.

Strachan said: 'They have lots of skill, lots of flair and their players have different styles but it all comes together.

'They are top of the league and so they will be happy.

'They are two excellent sides with excellent players but as we have proved this year, we have excellent players as well.

'Hopefully our good players will be better than their good players.'

Celtic go into the game having scored five goals in each of their last three Clydesdale Bank Premier League games, the 5-0 thrashing of Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the weekend taking them top of the table for the first time this season.

Midfielder Scott Brown is hoping the Hoops can transfer their domestic form to the European stage.

He said: 'We have scored quite lot of goals in the SPL so hopefully we can take it a bit further and start scoring in the Champions League.

'Whatever XI goes out on the park will give it 110% just like any other game and hopefully we will play well.'