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Celtic boss Deila praises distraught Izaguirre's key display

St Johnstone 0-3 - Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 14/12/2015

Hot shot: Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata (extreme left) scores his second goal of the day at McDiarmid Park
Hot shot: Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata (extreme left) scores his second goal of the day at McDiarmid Park

Manager Ronny Deila hailed heartbroken Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre following their 3-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The Hoops left-back wore a T-shirt with a message in memory of former Honduras team-mate and ex-Rangers midfielder Arnold Peralta, who was shot dead in his homeland on Thursday.

Izaguirre described Peralta as a "brother" and, despite his anguish, helped Celtic go four points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership, with a game in hand.

Striker Nadir Ciftci helped himself to a double, with Dedryck Boyata scoring a header.

Deila said: "I talked with him and he was ready. I trust my players and he did a good job.

"It was hard for him, but he wanted to play and I am very pleased with the way he got through that game, if you take into consideration the circumstances.

"He made that choice himself and it was important that I didn't have it over his head."

The Norwegian boss was also pleased with the performance of keeper Craig Gordon and Ciftci, who was playing again due to an injury to top scorer Leigh Griffiths.

Gordon had been at fault for Fenerbahce's goal in the 1-1 draw in Istanbul on Thursday night which had concluded a doomed Europa League Group A campaign.

However, he denied point-blank shots from Michael O'Halloran in the first minute and Murray Davidson later in the first-half, while Ciftci showed why Celtic signed him from Dundee United in the summer.

Deila said: "I am very happy with Craig. He was very important in the first-half, but also the whole defence, who dealt with a lot of crosses and pressure.

"We have spoken about getting a settled defence, but now you see consistency, improvement and you see that Craig feels more safe and that makes him the goalkeeper he is and he showed his class.

"I am so happy for Nadir. He now has had two games in a row and we know he can do things.

"He was strong and scored two goals and it makes it better for everybody that we don't have to rely on Leigh all the time."

Ciftci played down his contribution, saying: "It is always good to get the goals, but it is all about the team and getting the points.

"I was lucky to be on the end of the two goals, if I don't have my team mates I wouldn't have them.

"Every player wants a chance and when they get one they need to show the things the gaffer asks, no matter the position and hopefully I did that."

Saints boss Tommy Wright admitted that defeat was "hard to take" after missing several chances, while conceding poor marking also proved costly.

"We can only look at ourselves," he said.

"There was some good goalkeeping, but we probably could have been more ruthless and we lost the game because we gave away two goals from corners.

"All right they are good deliveries, but we probably should have dealt with them better, particularly the second one.

"I was disappointed for the players, not disappointed with overall performance, I thought it was excellent.

"I thought we were the team with more cutting edge for long periods, we created numerous opportunities, didn't take them and at 3-0 it was easy to open us up a little bit more.

"But we kept going."

St Johnstone: Mannus, Shaughnessy, Mackay, Anderson, Easton, Wotherspoon, Millar (Caddis 34), Davidson, Craig, O'Halloran, MacLean (Kane 81)

Subs not used: Scobbie, Sutton, Clark, McKay, Thomson

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre, Johansen, Rogic (Cole 81), Forrest, Armstrong (Commons 72), McGregor, Ciftci (Allan 89)

Subs not used: Ambrose, Mackay-Steven, Bailly, Tierney

Goals: Ciftci 35, Boyata 49, Ciftci 67

Booked: St Johnstone: Mackay, MacLean, Wotherspoon

Celtic: Izaguirre, Johansen

Man of the match: Nadir Ciftci

Attendance: 6,418

Referee: Crawford Allan (Scotland)

Belfast Telegraph

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