Scott McDonald is confident a formidable home record allied to a healthy respect for opponents FC Shakhtar Donetsk will keep Celtic FC on track for the last 16.
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Scott McDonald is confident Celtic FC's impressive home record, allied to a healthy respect for opponents FC Shakhtar Donetsk, will keep them on track to reach the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League.
The sides are level on six points going into Wednesday's penultimate Group D match and the Australia striker believes home advantage will be crucial – the Hoops are yet to concede a goal at Celtic Park in the Scottish Premier League this season and have suffered just one defeat in 15 UEFA Champions League games in Glasgow. "We are very confident," said McDonald, scorer of eleven SPL goals this term. "Our home record is fantastic this year, domestically as well as in Europe, so we look forward to the game and hopefully we can go out there and get the result we need."
The only thing tempering the 24-year-old's buoyant mood is the 2-0 reverse endured by Celtic in Ukraine on Matchday 1. Brandão and Cristiano Lucarelli capitalised on two defensive errors inside the first ten minutes to punish a Celtic team still to win away in the competition – and McDonald warns that Shakhtar's lively front pairing will take advantage of further lapses. "We're fully aware of the mistakes we made over there and the qualities they bring," added the former Motherwell FC player. "They are a very dangerous side with exceptional players, individuals who can turn a game on their own. The two Brazilians in midfield [Ilsinho and Jadson] are very influential and our defenders will have a job keeping Lucarelli and Brandão quiet up front."
A victory by more than the two goals shipped in Donetsk would leave Celtic in pole position to qualify for the last 16 – or even through already, provided AC Milan avoid defeat at SL Benfica - by virtue of a superior head-to-head record. Yet McDonald insists his team-mates are focusing first and foremost on securing another win: "We can't worry about this head-to-head thing. It's just vital we go out there and get the win. Shakhtar have a game left at home [against Benfica] and like us they are pretty formidable at home. They'll be strong favourites to win that game, so I think it's important we go out to win the three points and put ourselves in a strong position before our final game in Milan."