Kris Commons boosts Celtic’s Europa campaign

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CELTIC manager Ronny Deila expressed his satisfaction with a 1-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb which put his team in control of their Europa League group but admitted his team still have plenty of scope for improvement.

Kris Commons scored the only goal of the match in the sixth minute but Celtic were left hanging on in the second half as the Croatian champions dominated proceedings.

Celtic matchwinner Kris Commons celebrates opening the scoring in the sixth minute. Picture: Reuters

Celtic matchwinner Kris Commons celebrates opening the scoring in the sixth minute. Picture: Reuters

The result leaves Celtic on four points at the top of Group D alongside top seeds Red Bull Salzburg who defeated Astra Giurgiu 2-1 in Romania last night. Celtic’s next fixture is against Astra, who are bottom of the group without a point so far, in Glasgow on 22 October. “Tonight was an important game,” said Deila. “The win can push us towards qualification, get control of the group and it puts pressure on the other teams.

Match report: Celtic rely on Commons theme again in Europe

“We have a good chance to qualify now. It’s so important to win at home in Europe. The fans were fantastic, they backed us right to the 93rd minute and that’s why Celtic win so many games at home. We are looking forward to playing Astra home and away in our next two games in the group now. If we get to ten points, then we will more or less be through.

“When you see the second half tonight, Dinamo Zagreb were better than us. In the first half, we had good chances. We started very well and had good pressure, we scored a fantastic goal. But in the second half we got tired and didn’t look like we could keep up the pressure. The team spirit was fantastic, we defended well and they didn’t get many chances even though they had a lot of the ball.

“We need better passing and need to keep the ball for longer periods. If we do that, we will be hard to handle.

“We have to keep working on it. It’s very important for us to test ourselves against good teams and Zagreb are a good team. They were comfortable on the ball. I’m pleased to win but I have an anger inside to play better. I know we are going to continue developing and then we will be very good.”

Deila was again indebted to goalkeeper Craig Gordon who followed up his heroic display in the 2-2 draw away to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria two weeks earlier with another outstanding performance last night.

“Craig was unbelievable,” added Deila. “He made vital saves. I said to him that we have to thank him for the clean sheet and three points. He has been an unbelievable signing for us.

“What he has shown so far is fantastic. We can work on his kicking, but it’s hard to see how else he can do better than he is doing right now. Celtic have had good goalkeepers in the past and that’s always important.”

Dinamo Zagreb manager Zoran Mamic was left bemused by his team’s failure to take something from the match but is confident they will overturn the result when the sides meet again at the end of the Group D campaign.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Mamic. “When you see the 90 minutes, we were the better team. But football is about goals and we didn’t score, so I have to say congratulations to Celtic.”