Celtic: Deila delighted with new recruits’ impact

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GARY Mackay-Steven said he could barely remember the dramatic goal he scored within the first minute of his debut that helped Celtic on the way to 3-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill last night.

Fellow debutant Stuart Armstrong also weighed in with a goal 29 minutes later as Celtic drew threw points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Premiership table.

Ronny Deila: Pleased with new signings' impact on match. Picture: SNS

Ronny Deila: Pleased with new signings' impact on match. Picture: SNS

Partick Thistle 0 - 3 Celtic: Match report

Celtic continue to improve at the right time of the season. This commanding performance was enhanced by new signings Mackay-Steven and Armstrong, following last week’s high-profile joint move from Dundee United.

Mackay-Steven was first on the act after just 38 seconds, which is thought to be the quickest goal scored by a Celtic player on their competitive debut. Armstrong scored a second after 30 minutes before Stefan Johansen completed the scoring the second-half.

Mackay-Steven later joked that he and Armstrong have been receiving good-natured stick from their new teammates because they have been doing everything together even prior to last night.

“I have been here over a week now and I was itching to make my debut,” he said. “I was ineligible at the weekend [against Dundee] and I don’t like watching from the stands.

“I wanted to be out there and it was a great experience. It was a bit of a blur to be honest.

“You want to get your first touch right and get settled in to the game,” he added. “To score so early was great for me and for the team and I thought we played really well. We were well worth the three points.

“Stuart and I have been getting a bit of stick from the boys for doing everything together so it was only right he scored as well. I am really happy for him as he played really well and it was a great night for us.

“I always have confidence in my own ability. It’s never wavered. I know what I can do and I just want to show it in every game. There is another match on Saturday and I am ready to go again.”

Manager Ronny Delia was equally delighted at the impact his two signings made before next week’s return to European action against Inter Milan.

“We saw in training they are capable of playing at a high level and today they got a good start as well so I am delighted for them and the team as well,” said Delia.

After this weekend’s trip to face St Johnstone the Parkhead side entertain Inter Milan in next week’s Europa League first leg clash. Both Mackay-Steven and Armstrong are eligible to play in Europe, although they cannot face their old team in the next month’s League Cup final and Scottish Cup quarter-final tie.

“We knew he had the skills we need – we need players who can go on penetrating runs and open more spaces,” said Deila. “Both of them are doing that and that makes us more difficult to read and it is harder to beat us. We were dangerous last weekend and also today.

“I think we are a better team but it is not just them who are making us better, we are improving all the time. I feel comfortable when I sit on the bench now compared to four months ago. We have good confidence and we are looking forward to every game.”