Stig wants to make Bhoys the victims of another Nordic noir
STIG Inge Bjornebye is no stranger to a European NIGHT at Celtic Park, with the Rosenborg Sporting Director having played a part in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw there back in 1997.
That incredible Uefa Cup match in Glasgow featured a last-gasp equaliser by Steve McManaman, after Jackie McNamara and Simon Donnelly had cancelled out Michael Owen’s early opener.
On Wednesday night, lightning struck again for Bjornebye as, this time, Rosenborg held the Scottish Champions to a 0-0 stalemate and were unlucky not to have been victorious.
Celtic’s lack of firepower was evident with strike pair Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths both missing, but Rosenborg’s counter-attacking tactics almost handed Kare Ingebrigtsen’s men a valuable away goal on more than one occasion.
Bjornebye watched on with a sense of déjà vu as the Norwegian outfit nonetheless earned a fine result they feel confident of building on this midweek in the return match in Trondheim.
He said: “I have good memories of Celtic Park and the 2-2 game in the Uefa Cup. It was a fascinating encounter and I remember a great atmosphere.
“We eventually went through on away goals at Anfield after a 0-0 draw, but I had a lot of respect for Celtic afterwards. I have been back since that time for a couple of Old Firm games and I am friends with Peter Lawwell. “On Wednesday, we had some chances and perhaps deserved to win. In the end, it’s led to an interesting second leg in Norway. We were hopeful to score an away goal in Glasgow but 0-0 leaves it finely balanced. “Maybe when we bring Celtic back to our place we will have a bit more luck in front of goal.” Certainly, Rosenborg will feel they deserve a break this year after being eliminated at the same stage last season by Cypriot Champions APOEL.
The Norwegians led 2-0 at one stage in the tie, before conceding a late away goal in the Lerkendal Stadion and then lost the return leg 3-0.
More incredibly, they were in a qualifying position as the clock struck 90 minutes in Nicosia only to concede the three goals in injury-time.
BJORNEBYE is keen to avoid a repeat of that situation and guarantees Ingebrigtsen will have his players well-versed in what to expect from Brendan Rodgers’ men on Wednesday.
They similarly earned a draw in Ireland against Dundalk in the last round and survived an early scare to eventually go through 3-2 on aggregate after extra time.
Bjornebye added: “We are wary of a good first-leg result after last year when we were unlucky not to get through. We are hopeful of avoiding a similar scenario.
“We suffered a fright against Dundalk but Celtic is a step up and we will be prepared.
“We will give Celtic the respect they deserve. We’ll have a game plan centred around a structured system, where all the players will know their own individual jobs.
“We expect no surprises in the way Celtic will approach the game.
“I know Celtic had some issues up front in Glasgow but we expect them to have that situation well covered in Trondheim.
“They are a strong, solid side, very professional and have a lot of tradition.”
Former 76-times capped Norwegian International Bjornebye heaped some pressure on Celtic, however, as he believes the Glasgow club have more to lose if they fail to progress.
Celtic earned upwards of €30million from last season’s competition, where they faced Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the group stage.
That gave Rodgers the opportunity to splash the cash on new signings Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham.
Elimination at this stage would mean dropping into the Europa League play-offs for either side, where the prize money is a lot less lucrative.
And Bjornebye thinks that weight of expectation adds extra spice to the second leg. He said: “We believe this game will be a sell-out as there is obviously great interest and there is a lot at stake for both clubs. With the resources Celtic have, they may even depend on qualifying for the group stage.”
Rosenborg have already taken Celtic’s scalp in this competition before, with a 2-0 group stage win in 2001, following a 1-0 defeat in Glasgow.
They have also enjoyed success against the likes of AC Milan, Valencia and Porto. Bjornebye would be delighted with a return to the group phase if his club can negotiate this game and a play-off.
He said: “With our history, some of our fans may expect us to compete at the level we enjoyed before.
“However, the competition is different to what it was 15-20 years ago and it is more difficult with so many qualifiers now. It’s hard to compete in the same way now.”
Stig Inge Bjornebye hits a free-kick at Parkhead for Liverpool against Celtic in 1997