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By ESPN Staff

Mowbray insists Rapid row won't affect Celtic

Tony Mowbray insists his players will be unaffected by the furore surrounding Thursday night's Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna at Parkhead.

Both clubs prepare to meet again for the first time since their controversial and ill-tempered European Cup Winners' Cup encounter in 1984/85.

After losing 3-1 in the first game in Vienna, Celtic were 3-0 up at home in a volatile return leg when the game descended into farce as Rudi Weinhofer fell to the ground claiming to have been hit by a missile thrown from the Parkhead terraces.

After originally fining both clubs, UEFA then ordered a third game to be played at Old Trafford after an appeal by Rapid and current Vienna manager Peter Pacult scored the only goal of the match to send the Hoops spinning out of the competition.

The build-up to Thursday's game has resurrected a lot of the antagonism still felt at Parkhead about Rapid but the Hoops boss, speaking at the pre-match press conference at Celtic Park, said:

"If you are talking about the Rapid Vienna game 25 years ago, to be honest, it has gone over my head a little bit. I wasn't here and I don't know much about it and I don't think it will affect this group of players. I don't think there is that motivation angle for the players. I'm sure there will be fans who were at the game 25 years ago who will want to want to put some perceived wrongs, right, and hopefully we can do that.''

Mowbray admits current Celtic coach Peter Grant, who played against Rapid 25 years ago, is struggling to let it go. "Peter never shuts up about it,'' Mowbray joked. "In Peter's eyes there was an injustice from various quarters but it isn't going to affect this group of players. It has brought back a bit of nostalgia.

"It's good for the players who played in that game 25 years ago to talk about it but the bottom line is we will be looking for three points to try and help our cause in this league.''

Celtic skipper Stephen McManus also tried to dampen down the sense of revenge which has enveloped this match since the draw was made last month. "I was only two at the time the teams last played so I can't really tell you much about it,'' he said. "But we are not interested in anything like that.

"For us it's another European game and we are only looking at how we perform on Thursday night in trying to win the game. It's a chance to get three points and we will try to the best of our abilities. If we are looking to qualify we have to win as many games as possible and we will be looking to do that.''

While Celtic lost their opening game to Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel, Rapid arrived in Glasgow top of the Group C following their win over section favourites Hamburg, which, according to McManus, gives the Hoops enough to worry about.

He said: "It will be a massive challenge, anyone who can beat Hamburg is going to be a good side, they wouldn't be in the competition otherwise. We will show them the respect that they deserve, they are strong in the counter attack and have good players in good areas of the pitch. They are going to be a threat and it's something that we have to be aware of.''


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