TEEMU Pukki struck twice against KR Reykjavik at the BT Murrayfield Stadium last night to take Celtic one step closer to the Champions League group stages and is hoping Southampton target Fraser Forster remains at Parkhead to enjoy it with him.
The Finnish striker grabbed a brace in the second leg of the Champions League second qualifier, adding to an earlier double by defender Virgil van Dijk in a 5-0 aggregate win, to secure the Hoops’ place in the next round where they will play either St Patrick’s or Legia Warsaw.
However, much of the post-match attention centred on the future of Forster, who was subject to an unsuccessful bid by Saints with Hoops manager Ronny Deila emphasising his desire for the England international to stay.
Pukki added his voice to that plea by saying: “It’s so important for every player to reach the group stages of the Champions League.
“It’s the best place to play football so we all want to be there. That’s our main aim in the next few weeks.
“And it’s important that we keep Fraser because he’s one of the best keepers in the world. So we want him to stay
“He’s one of the most vital parts of this team, he showed that last season and for a few years before. He’s important to the club.
“It might be difficult to hold on to him because there are many teams after him. But personally, I hope he stays because he’s a great keeper.”
Deila laughed when it was mentioned that the Celtic fans had booed when Pukki was replaced by Liam Henderson immediately after scoring his second in the 71st minute.
The Norwegian said: “We wanted to see Kris Commons in the number nine role - but I will keep that in my mind for the next time, if they start booing.”
Pukki said: “I had a few more chances but after the second goal, I forgot about them. I had a couple of opportunities to score more - but two goals is good.
“I was a bit tired so it was okay to come off near the end. I didn’t know I was going to be substituted just before I scored but I think my timing was good.
“I heard the fans booing as I came off which was a huge feeling for me.
“The difference in me now to when I first arrived is that I’ve had a really good pre-season. The summer went well for me.
“Also, the manager here believes in me and has given me the chance to play so it feels good.”