Celtic's first bout en-route to the Champions League group stages is almost job done with a 2-0 victory over Icelandic champions Stjarnan. A fuller than usual Parkhead looked on as Ronny Deila's men controlled large parts of the game, eventually running out comfortable victors in the end.
Deila handed debuts to both Dedryk Boyata and Nadir Ciftci while James Forrest had to replace Gary Mackay-Steven just before kick-off. Although Celtic were in control, it took 45 minutes for the first goal, new "bhoy" Boyata scoring with his head. This gave Celtic some breathing space to go and play, while also relieving some of the immense tension resonating throughout the ground.
New number seven, Cifcti, came close to a dream debut when a Stjarnan error gifted the Turk with a glorious opportunity to justify his signing, however, he was only to be denied by ex-Motherwell ace Gunnar Nielsen.
The second half very much reflected the first, and also the gulf in quality between the two sides. Celtic had most of the ball with Ciftci coming close once more, this time from a Forrest cross. The constant intensity proved all too much for the team from Iceland, when in 56 minutes the last of their resolve melted - arguably with their qualification hopes, as midfield dynamo and player of the year Stefan Johansen latched onto a beautifully weighted pass from Armstrong to double the home sides advantage.
The Celtic manager changed things about when Leigh Griffiths replaced Forrest on 61 minutes, perhaps giving an idea of how both Ciftci, and Griffiths would play in the same team. This was short lived however, as Deila soon substituted Ciftci, with Anthony Stokes introduced just as Johansen was fouled inside the 18-yard box.
Celtic's player of the year then procceded to grab the ball and walk towards the spot, only to be stopped in his tracks by official penalty taker Griffiths. This seemed to cause quite a disturbance, forcing Deila to intervene and order Johansen to give Leigh Griffiths the ball. After all the commotion, the tiny hitman squandered a perfect chance to put the tie to bed, forcing Nielsen into a superb save low to his right-hand side, much to the disdain of manager and supporters alike.
When asked afterwards as to what had unfolded, the Celtic manager was rather bemused.
"I don't know, I'd have to ask them", replied Deila. "It's very clear who's going to take that penalty; the guy who took the penalty. Leigh has taken penalties before so that is quite clear. We can't have it like that, it's unprofessional."
Clearly this incident has given Deila a slight worry as to the frame of mind some in his team are in. This cannot continue throughout these qualifiers because full unity and concentation are required for the task on hand, especially if this Celtic side come up against a higher quality of opposition than their counterparts at the moment.
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