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Celtic draw comfort from Gordon's heroic performance

Deila praises keeper for superb saves in Salzburg

By Ronnie Esplin

Ronny Deila praised Craig Gordon after the keeper turned in a terrific performance in Celtic's 2-2 draw with Salzburg in Austria.

The 31-year-old was signed on a free transfer in the summer after two years out of the game with injury but he has made the Hoops fans forget about England keeper Fraser Forster, who departed for Southampton.

Once again Gordon starred in a pulsating Europa League Group D opener at the Salzburg Stadion.

Mubarak Wakaso scored 14 minutes into his Hoops debut but Brazilian striker Alan levelled 10 minutes from the break from the edge of the box which took a marked deflection off Efe Ambrose before looping over Gordon.

On the hour mark Hoops captain Scott Brown, playing only his second game of the season after recovering from a hamstring injury, sent in a drive from outside the box which hit Andre Ramalho and the ball spun into the back of the net.

Gordon made several saves, a couple of them brilliant, to keep the home side at bay but he had no chance in the 77th minute with skipper Jonatan Soriano's 25-yard free-kick which flew high into the top corner.

Hoops boss Deila said: "He has been good all season but he is progressing all the time and getting better and better.

"He is a top professional, fantastic man and I am so glad to have him in the group.

"I had only seen him on television, playing for Sunderland. I didn't know him but Stevie Woods (goalkeeping coach) said he was ready and he is fit now and he will come to the level he was at. They have done well to get back again.

"Fraser was fantastic but now we have a good goalkeeper. He is very good professional, very calm and so far he has been fantastic."

The Norwegian spoke the importance of getting a point away to the group's top seeds in their opening fixture but was honest enough to admit the home side deserved to draw level.

He said: "It was a good result, they are a good team and were difficult to play against, they played with high intensity and have very fit and quick players.

"I think we played much better as a team today. But It was important to get the point. Before the game we spoke about getting something from it.

"We are lasting the distance better, over 90 minutes. We need to be quicker with passing but with the team spirit we have we will get points and I am satisfied with that.

"But I think they deserved to get the goal in the end, they had some chances and we had a fantastic goalkeeper. Yes, we were 2-1 up but their free-kick was fantastic.

"But I am pleased with the point and happy with the performance.

"We are progressing but there is a lot of work to be ever better."

Gordon conceded that Salzburg's late equaliser was a moment of top quality.

"It's a great strike," said Gordon. "I said that to him at the end – he came up to me, shook my hand and smiled, so I knew what he was getting at."

Belfast Telegraph


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