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HJK insist 'all the pressure is on Celtic'

Antti Muurinen says HJK Helsinki are "the underdogs and all the pressure is on Celtic" ahead of Wednesday's second leg, but the Scottish side are intent on going all out for victory.

Celtic's Gary Hooper (left) vies for possession with Joel Perovuo of HJK in the first leg
Celtic's Gary Hooper (left) vies for possession with Joel Perovuo of HJK in the first leg ©Getty Images

HJK Helsinki need to beat Celtic FC on Wednesday to progress to the UEFA Champions League play-offs but coach Antti Muurinen insists there is no pressure on his team.

HJK took the lead in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie yet ended up losing 2-1 in Scotland and now welcome Celtic to Finland still firmly in contention. "We played well in Glasgow and we have a chance to win the tie," said Muurinen. "Celtic are tough opponents but we had our spells in the away game and we created chances for more than one goal. We are the underdogs and all the pressure is on Celtic, but we really want to show what we can do and we believe we can win this tie."

Though a 1-0 victory would suffice for HJK, they ideally want to remove any element of doubt. "If we just defend and search for the one goal, that could be dangerous," added Muurinen, who will be without injured striker Juho Mäkelä. "In the first leg the last 20 minutes were difficult for us and we saw that we need to keep the ball more."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has injury concerns of his own, yet forward Giorgos Samaras has been declared fit. Captain Scott Brown and James Forrest have also travelled with the squad, although Lennon will wait until the pre-match training session before making a decision on their availability. "They are still a bit stiff and sore," he said.

Assistant coach Johan Mjällby was a player the only previous time these sides met, Chris Sutton scoring in extra time to earn Celtic a 3-2 aggregate success in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup first round. "We are leading 2-1 and are playing away from home, but I don't see any reason why we can't go there and win," said Mjallby.

"We need to be solid, we can't make the same mistake we did a week ago when we conceded a goal on the counterattack. I think Helsinki will need to go forward more than they did at Celtic Park, which hopefully means there will be more space for our attacking players."