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Celtic in Champions League group stage

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers wants his team to still be in European football in the new year after they reached the Champions League group stage.

Rodgers’ men lost 4-3 to Astana in Kazakhstan but won the play-off tie 8-4 overall.

“It’s a wonderful achievement to gain our qualification,” said Rodgers. “It’s a night to celebrate.

“I think what we would like to do is try to progress this year and be in European football after Christmas.”

Celtic, under Rodgers, reached the group stage last season but finished bottom of a section also featuring Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Scottish champions will discover their group opponents on Thursday at 17:00 BST. They will be in pot four, the bottom set of seeds.

The top two in each group qualify for the Champions League second round, with third place entering the Europa League knockout rounds.

“We’ve come through this qualification phase really, really well,” said Rodgers, whose side beat Linfield and Rosenborg to reach the play-off stage.

“I’m very, very happy and pleased to come through the six games, especially against a team like Astana – a very good side.

“We’re coming into the highest club level – the Champions League – we’re going to play against some fantastic players, the players are going to improve, get better, get better experiences. If we can be in European football after Christmas then that’ll be another great step forward for us.

“We’ll look forward to the draw. It’s brilliant for the club. I think it’s absolutely brilliant for Glasgow, the city because it’s not just about the football, it’s about the nation – what it does economically, commercially, what it brings into the city of Glasgow, Champions League football, businesses and everything.”

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