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Fuming Malmo in 'pigs' slur at Celtic after Parkhead defeat

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 21/08/2015

Bittersweet night: Nir Bitton headed in Celtic’s second against Malmo but was disappointed to concede a late goal
Bittersweet night: Nir Bitton headed in Celtic’s second against Malmo but was disappointed to concede a late goal

Malmo goalkeeper Johan Wiland branded Celtic players "pigs" following the first leg of their Champions League qualifier.

The Swede hit out after his side fell to a 3-2 defeat in the play-off opener at Parkhead, and reserved special vitriol for Hoops striker Leigh Griffiths.

The 34-year-old shot-stopper said: "They are pigs, everybody, that's it. It's just about trying to be cool and do what we should be on the football field."

Griffiths netted two goals but did not impress Wiland, who saw Nir Bitton head a corner past him as he struggled to get past the former Hibernian striker on the line.

He said: "Griffiths behaves like a child."

Another player, Rasmus Bengtsson, was quoted in the Swedish media claiming that Celtic had players who did too much talking on the pitch, including skipper Scott Brown, who had an argument with Malmo boss Age Hareide during the game.

And he accused substitute Nadir Ciftci of focusing more on bad-mouthing Malmo players than playing. The former Dundee United player was one of six players booked - three from each side - following an injury-time foul.

The criticism followed frank comments from Hareide in the post-match media conference.

After former Celtic player Jo Inge Berget netted his second goal in the fifth minute of injury time, Hareide claimed the hosts had looked tired in the closing stages and added: "We saw against Inverness that they do not have the legs for 90 minutes."

According to Bitton, Celtic's sloppiness cost them dearly, but they can still win their Champions League play-off clash.

When the Israel midfielder headed in from a Stefan Johansen corner after Griffiths had opened the scoring in the third minute with a confident finish, the Scottish champions threatened to have the tie in the bag by half-time.

Berget reduced the deficit after the break when the Hoops defence was caught sleeping, but Griffiths' second of the evening restored the two-goal advantage.

However, in the last seconds of five minutes of injury time, Berget struck again, this time from close range following a corner, to change the complexion of the tie ahead of the return game in Malmo next Tuesday night.

However, Bitton remains confident of reaching the lucrative group stages.

He said: "We conceded a goal on 94 minutes when we had the ball. It was a sloppy mistake. This is football and when you play on this stage you need to be 100 per cent ready.

"We have another game, we have the advantage and we need to do everything to keep it and I hope that we will do it.

"It will not be easy there but we need to do it if we want to play in the Champions League group stages.

"We could have finished the game earlier but when you don't do it you pay for it.

"Of course we believe (Celtic will go through), I think everybody saw who is the better team.

"Malmo had maybe two shots on goal and they scored two away goals, very important goals, but we believe in ourselves and will go there to win the game.

"If we go there to keep a clean sheet and to play for a draw then you (can) lose so we need to play for the win and I hope we do it."

Berget was understandably pleased with his return to Parkhead, where he scored twice in eight games during a short and unsuccessful loan period at the club last season.

The Norwegian attacker said: "My time at Celtic didn't go as I hoped so it was good to come back and have a good game.

"They can say I was a flop at Celtic but I'm not right now in Malmo.

"Some of the fans booed a bit but after the game I got claps so that shows that they're good guys.

"It would have been even better if we won 2-0 but as the game was I think we should be happy how it ended.

"3-2 is a lot better than 3-1 but we still have to win at home.

"Personally it was good to get two goals here and good to keep the game alive."

Belfast Telegraph

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