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Celtic eager to bury Barcelona heartbreak

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27 Oct 2012 03:18:00

Celtic eager to bury Barcelona heartbreak

Celtic return to Scottish Premier League action against Kilmarnock on Saturday after their European heartbreak against Barcelona in midweek.

The Hoops suffered a shattering defeat in Camp Nou when they conceded a stoppage time winner to the 2011 champions after Pedro scored with virtually the last kick of the ball in their Champions League Group G match.

Neil Lennon's side must now pick themselves up from that disappointment as their focus shifts back to domestic duty, where they sit three points clear at the top of the SPL.

It is a world away from this time last year when the Hoops dropped 10 points behind then leaders Rangers after struggling to a 3-3 draw against Killie that had Lennon considering his own position.

While their morale may have been temporarily dented by the defeat against Barcelona, midfielder Beram Kayal says he is amazed at the difference a year has made to the Parkhead side.

"There is a big difference in this team from one year ago -- we have gelled now. Most of us have been together for two years. Actually, it's almost three years and there is a lot of power in the team today," the Israeli international said.

"We have a lot of confidence and we feel anything is possible, so it's a big difference to that game at Kilmarnock last year.

"We can feel that. We're now playing at the highest level you can as a footballer in the Champions League and we are having a good campaign.

"We're also doing everything right in the league, so there are many things for us to be happy about.

"We always believe we can do something. Months ago when we said we wanted to play in the Champions League, people were saying that was not possible. All they spoke about was the fact it was four years since we'd been in it but now a lot of people and other teams will be giving us great respect."

Kilmarnock claimed the League Cup last season with a historic win over Celtic at Hampden but haven't defeated the Hoops at Parkhead in over 55 years.

But manager Kenny Shiels is determined to overcome that curse and rewrite the history books on Saturday.

"I wasn't even born the last time Kilmarnock won at Parkhead so let's not say any more on that," Shiels said.

"It's been a long time and it will be good to try to do something about that. We've set a few records during my time at Kilmarnock.

"We beat Celtic last season in the League Cup Final -- that was Kilmarnock's first win over them in Glasgow since a cup victory in 1957.

"But 1955 was the last time Kilmarnock beat Celtic in the league in Glasgow.

"You can keep using that as a motivation but it doesn't always work. However, if we get back to performing well then I'd be happy that we can achieve something from the game.

"We've been poor in our last couple of matches but want to get back to playing the way we can."

Elsewhere, second place St Johnstone are away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, bottom place Dundee take on Aberdeen to Pittodrie, St Mirren host Dundee United and Hearts take on Ross County.

On Friday, visitors Hibernian defeated Motherwell, 4-0.

Saturday:

Aberdeen v Dundee, Celtic v Kilmarnock, Hearts v Ross County, Inverness CT v St Johnstone, St Mirren v Dundee United


AFP

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