Celtic: Astana 'not the unknown', enthuses boss Rodgers

Moussa Dembele scores a penalty for Celtic against Astana
Moussa Dembele's late penalty gave Celtic victory over Astana last season

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is happy that his side's Champions League play-off against Astana is not a trip into the unknown for the Scottish champions.

Rodgers' side, who were seeded in the 'champions route' section of the draw, beat the Kazakh outfit in last season's third qualifying round.

The first leg at Celtic Park is on 16 August, with the return six days later.

"We know what it's like - the hotel, the astroturf, it's virtually the same managers and players," said Rodgers.

"It will be as tough as last year but we look forward to it and will be ready for it."

The trip to Kazakhstan involves a seven-hour flight and a five-hour time difference, and Rodgers will adopt the same technique that served his side well last season as they drew 1-1 away and then won 2-1 in Glasgow to progress.

"We stayed on British time because obviously there is the time difference which can really throw you," he said.

"I have done it in the past, we stayed on British time to keep our body clocks the same.

Moussa Dembele celebrates
Moussa Dembele scored a late penalty as Celtic beat Astana 2-1 in Glasgow last season

"Some of our staff outside the football stayed on the time in Astana and they actually felt it would have been better to stay on the British time.

"You are not sure if you are having your dinner or breakfast but it certainly helps you. You couldn't really do it over a sustained length of time but when it is only a short trip, to throw your body out sometimes isn't ideal.

"We did last time and it worked well for the players."

The 10 play-off winners will join 22 teams already qualified for the group stage, including four English, three Spanish and three German teams.

In the 'league route' of the play-off draw, Liverpool were paired with Hoffenheim and will be away first.

Losing teams at the play-off stage enter the Europa League group stage.

Celtic, who defeated Linfield earlier in the competition, beat Rosenborg 1-0 on Wednesday to secure an aggregate win by the same scoreline in the Champions League third qualifying round while Astana overcame Poland's Legia Warsaw 3-2 on aggregate.

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