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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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By ESPN Staff

Rapid's Hofmann plays down historic Hoops grudge

Rapid Vienna skipper Steffen Hofmann joined his Celtic counterpart Stephen McManus in trying to defuse the potentially explosive Europa League clash at Parkhead.

Older Hoops fans in particular are still angry over the events of 25 years ago when the Austrian club won through a controversial European Cup Winners' Cup tie against Celtic.

After losing 3-1 in the first game in Vienna, Celtic were 3-0 up at home and in control when Rapid player Rudi Weinhofer collapsed to the ground, claiming to have been hit by a missile thrown from the terraces.

After originally fining both clubs, UEFA sensationally ordered a third game to be played after an appeal by the Austrian club.

Current Rapid boss Peter Pacult scored the only goal of the match which was played at Old Trafford to take his side through to the next round but the bitterness that lingered for a quarter of a century came to the fore when the two sides were drawn together in Group C of the competition last month.

McManus, however, said: ''I was only two at the time the teams last played so I can't really tell you much about it. 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 in trying to win.''

Hofmann, speaking at the pre-match press conference at Celtic Park, concurred with the Parkhead captain, saying, ''It was 25 years ago which is a long time. I knew the question would come up but I was four years old when it happened, it is in the past.

''I just hope the players on the pitch make the headlines and not the fans in the stands. The players are not affected by it, what we have to do is focus on giving a very good performance.

''We know what to expect, it will be a great atmosphere and Celtic will give it their all but we are here to play a game of football. We are very happy to be here, we have a lot of respect for Celtic, they are very strong in Glasgow but we will do our best to get a result.''

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