Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Celtic’s ‘perfect’ day

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan believes his team have learned from their defeat at Pittodrie — but he admits there is only so much they can do if faced with "perfect" set-pieces on their return north.

Celtic’s last Clydesdale Bank Premier League defeat came at Pittodrie in January when Zander Diamond converted two late Charlie Mulgrew free-kicks to give Aberdeen a 4-2 victory.

Aberdeen’s first two goals also came from crosses into the box and Strachan admitted Mulgrew’s free-kicks posed a serious risk.

But he is confident Celtic can cause Aberdeen similar problems and feels their 2-0 victory over the Dons two weeks ago is proof they took the loss on board.

"You could say that about Nakamura’s free-kicks," Strachan said.

"If you deliver the perfect free-kick, there is not much you can do about that.

"At Man United, when Dave Sexton went there he was trying all sorts of corner kicks and bits and bobs.

"Gordon McQueen said: ‘Why don’t we do that one we’ve been using for years when Steve Coppell just puts it in the box and I head it in the back of the net?’ That has always been a good one.

"If you get great delivery and bravery, then you have always got a problem.

"We’re the same with Nakamura and Paul Hartley delivers a good free-kick, so does Shaun Maloney. So we have those weapons as well."

Strachan added: "Hopefully we have learned a bit from that defeat.

"You try and learn from every game, you try and learn from the game we won last week.

"We’re looking to the victories as well as the defeats and what we can use as ammunition.

"From the defeat a few months ago to the victory last week, we have used that information," he added.

Celtic go into the post-split run-in one point ahead of Rangers, a different situation from last year when they overturned a seven-point deficit in the last seven games.

Stephen McManus and Shunsuke Nakamura will overcome fitness problems to play against Aberdeen, which is a boost for a Celtic side missing the suspended Scott Brown.

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