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Celtic 2-0 FC Stjarnan: Bhoys will be put on the spot by Ronny Deila

By Ronnie Esplin

Ronny Deila vowed to sort out the penalty situation once and for all at Celtic following the 2-0 Champions League qualifying win over Icelandic side Stjarnan at Parkhead last night.

The Hoops were leading the first leg of the second qualification tie through goals by debutant defender Dedryck Boyata and Stefan Johansen when, with 12 minutes remaining, the Norwegian midfielder was felled in the box.

Johansen tried to take the kick but second-half substitute Leigh Griffiths, nominated penalty taker, grabbed the ball from him before having his shot saved by former Motherwell keeper Gunnar Neilsen.

It brought back memories of the Scottish League Cup final win against Dundee United at Hampden in March when James Forrest and John Guidetti argued over a penalty before the former's spot-kick was easily saved by Dundee United keeper Rado Cierzniak, although the Hoops still triumphed.

The Celtic boss said: "It should be very clear. It is Leigh Griffiths who takes the penalties. So that is something we have to get out of the way. We can't have it like this.

"That is hopefully the last time that we see that because it is nothing about being professional and being a team, because we shouldn't fight about a penalty.

"It is very clear who is going to take the penalty and that is the way it is going to be.

"I don't know (why Stefan did it), I haven't asked him but 3-0 is a much different result than 2-0.

"But 2-0 is a good result. We had chances to win more but we were not more effective enough.

"I am disappointed that we didn't score goals but good that we had a clean sheet and we have a very good chance to make the next stage.

"They had one or two chances so it was good that they didn't score so I am happy but not very excited."

Stjarnan came with hopes of spoiling the party and there was a blow for the home side when winger Gary Mackay-Steven had to withdraw before kick-off with an injury.

Scotland winger James Forrest came in as replacement and he looked positive in the early stages as Celtic went looking for the opener.

It nearly came in the ninth minute when Ciftci was played in by Johansen following slack play in the Stjarnan defence but his low drive was blocked.

Celtic swarmed around the visitors' penalty area and in the 21st minute the barrier of blue jerseys was breached again when a loose header from Charlie Mulgrew's cross fell to Johansen but he dragged his shot wide.

Moments later, a Stuart Armstrong drive from distance cleared the bar and the former Dundee United midfielder should have scored in the 29th minute but Nielsen came to the rescue with a save with his feet.

The resolute but limited visitors, however, were caught sleeping in the 44th minute, allowing Celtic to take a short corner and when Johansen's cross came to the back post, Boyata leapt high to header past Nielsen.

It was a more relaxed Parkhead side who came out for the second-half and with less than two minutes played Forrest presented Ciftci with another chance from a cross but again the Turkish striker headed over.

Striker Jappe Hansen and defender Hordur Arnason then came close enough with efforts for the visitors.

However, slim Icelandic hopes were ended in the 56th minute when the tireless Johansen broke through the Stjarnan defence to take Armstrong's pass and coolly knock the ball past keeper Nielsen.

There was more frustration for Ciftci when he again headed over before he was replaced by Anthony Stokes.

Celtic then had the chance to make it 3-0 when Johansen was felled in a packed box but Griffiths' spot-kick was parried to safety by Nielsen, who made another great close-range save from Johansen late on.

Belfast Telegraph


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