Kris Commons denies Ronny Deila’s ‘scared’ claim

Celtic's Kris Commons controls the ball during his side's Champions League play-off second leg against Malmo. Picture: PA
Celtic's Kris Commons controls the ball during his side's Champions League play-off second leg against Malmo. Picture: PA
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KRIS Commons has denied Ronny Deila’s claims that Celtic played with fear when crashing out of the Champions League to Malmo.

Celtic’s 2-0 defeat at the raucous Swedbank Stadion on Tuesday sent the home side through 4-3 on aggregate with the Parkhead manager surprising many by describing his side as “scared.”

But Commons, who replaced Stuart Armstrong for the start of the second half with Celtic trailing 1-0 and having had a goal by Nir Bitton controversially chalked off, was at odds with the Norwegian as to the reasons for the defeat.

“I wouldn’t say it was fear,” Commons said.

“I don’t think we played with fear. When you’ve just got the one goal you’re thinking that if you can get a clean sheet or draw then you’re through, so it’s a completely different outlook.

“They came into the game knowing that they needed a goal, whereas as we were trying to do just enough to keep a clean sheet.

“But if we had come in at half-time at 1-1, when we scored from a corner, then it puts a completely different complexion on the game. But it wasn’t to be.

“Balls weren’t quite falling for us and we got done by a couple of set-pieces.”

Celtic to make the most of Europa League, says Ronny Deila

The former Derby and Nottingham Forest player denied personally feeling the pressure.

“No, I didn’t feel stressed,” he said.

“I think it’s a stressful night because you know what’s waiting for you if you get through, but coming here with a one-goal lead put a big importance on the first goal.

“It wasn’t to be. They took their chances and certainly put us under pressure.”

While the Champions League post-mortem gets under way, Commons turned his sights on winning the domestic treble as well as going on a run in the Europa League, with the draw for that competition due on Friday.

The playmaker said: “It’s difficult to take, very difficult but we’ll be looking to go further in the Europa League, we’ll be taking a keen interest in that.

“And then everyone will be talking about the treble - so let’s try and win the league and the cups.

“There’s a lot to play for this year, there’s a lot of disappointment this week, but the season is just beginning so hopefully we can maintain our league form and kick on.”

Gary Mackay-Steven admits Celtic will need to improve if they are to make their mark in the Europa League.

The former Dundee United winger told the club’s official website: “It’s still a big competition.

“The Champions League is obviously where we wanted to play but that’s gone now and the Europa League is the next big thing, so we’ll need to focus.

“There are a lot of great teams in the tournament and we want to improve ourselves on the European stage.

“There are still big European games to look forward to but our performances definitely need to improve.”