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Celtic boss Ronny Deila relieved as Hoops edge past cup minnows East Kilbride


Rave reviews: Kieran Tierney

Rave reviews: Kieran Tierney

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Rave reviews: Kieran Tierney

Celtic manager Ronny Deila admitted his relief after the Hoops eased into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Lowland League side East Kilbride at Airdrie's Excelsior stadium.

Back-to-back defeats against Ross County in the League Cup semi-final and Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership had piled pressure on the Norwegian and the Hoops fans booed their team off at the interval as they led only by striker Leigh Griffiths' 20th minute opener.

However, Deila and the Celtic supporters were able to relax after new striker Colin Kazim-Richards, making his first start, added a second in the 51st minute with his first Hoops goal and the Parkhead side went on to win with some comfort, if not by the margin of victory many had expected against the Lowland League minnows.

Asked if he was relieved to be through, the Norwegian said: "Yes, of course I was.

"I think it would have been very hard had we lost today, I admit that. So it was a crucial victory.

"You never know in football but that would have been the biggest surprise in a lot of years but it didn't happen and I am very happy for that.

"But I was quite comfortable during the 90 minutes and I will give a lot of credit to East Kilbride, they fought really hard and tried to play football as well so that was a positive.

"I thought we controlled the game pretty well, we could have created more.

"I didn't think we were accurate enough and I think the surface was a little bit difficult for us and also some new players and new relationships in the team so we could have played better but we went through and that is the most important thing.

"We wanted to score more goals and we had our chances but nobody will remember that if we win the cup."

On a blustery day in Lanarkshire, it never really looked like a cup shock was on the cards.

The East Kilbride part-timers were organised and diligent in defence and, with a noticeable height disadvantage, they did well to lose only two goals from Gary Mackay-Steven's troubling corners.

However, working so hard to stem the constant stream of Celtic attacks meant they offered little going forward, but that did not stop boss Billy Ogilvie describing it as "probably the proudest moment I have ever had in football, that 90 minutes today".

"It is pretty difficult to put into words. I am so proud of them but I think I am even beyond that," he said.

"To an absolute man they worked ever so hard and they kept their discipline, it was phenomenal.

"When you make Celtic score their goals from set-pieces, you must be doing something correct in open play and that is how well we did today in open play.

"We closed Celtic down and made them work hard."

Belfast Telegraph