CELTIC manager Ronny Deila admitted his team were some way short of their best in beating Partick Thistle 1-0 last night but believes they will now stretch away from their pursuers in the Premiership.
Virgil van Dijk scored the only goal of the re-arranged fixture to take the champions three points clear of Inverness.
Deila felt his players appeared jaded in what was their fourth game in 12 days but was satisfied by their desire in securing a sixth straight league victory.
“It was an okay performance – nothing more,” said Deila. “We tried to be positive but I have to think we have played a lot of matches recently, every three days almost, and that is affecting the energy in the team. But the players fought that, we got three points and I’m very happy with that.
“We were dominant for the whole game. We created a lot of chances and deserved to win. Our goal now is to increase our lead at the top. We want to keep on winning now. We are going on a good run and we have momentum and we have confidence. We want to continue on Saturday against Motherwell and get another three points.”
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
Deila had praise for both defender Van Dijk, who has now scored four goals in his last five games, and goalkeeper Craig Gordon who made a crucial late save to prevent substitute Kris Doolan equalising.
“Virgil is a very good player,” said Deila. “He performs week in, week out. He is consistent and is a leader in the group. He is developing all the time. When he scores goals as well, it makes me even happier. He creates chances as well.
“Craig is paid to make saves but it was a very good one tonight. It’s very rare for opponents not to get a chance and Partick’s one was at a very important time. It showed the class Craig has.”
Partick manager Alan Archibald was left to rue Gordon’s contribution but was consoled by his team’s improvement after losing 6-0 at Celtic Park in the League Cup five weeks earlier.
“It was a wonderful save and that is why he’s a top-class keeper,” said Archibald of Gordon. “That could have got us an equaliser. I felt we frustrated Celtic for the first 15 minutes and got through that period and started to pass the ball better.
“However, I am disappointed about the goal. It was a scrappy one and we should have defended it better. Did we learn from the 6-0 game? We showed great attitude this time.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS