Ronny Deila pours cold water on Martin Odegaard links; Hibs knock back a Rangers bid for Scott Allan and Hearts bolster squad with arrival of Branco
Stjarnan 1 Celtic 4: Hoops cruise after early scare
CELTIC completed an often unconvincing but ultimately comfortable first step towards Champions League qualification as they recovered from the shock of conceding an early goal to dispatch Icelandic part-timers Stjarnan from the tournament.
Olafur Finsen’s seventh-minute strike set alarm bells ringing for Ronny Deila and his Scottish champions who simply could not contemplate elimination from Europe at this stage.
Celtic’s 2-0 first leg advantage suddenly appeared under threat but Nir Bitton equalised before half-time to restore Celtic to an even keel before Charlie Mulgrew’s goal early in the second half erased any doubts they would be moving on to a third qualifying round tie against Azerbaijani side Qarabag. (The Scotsman)
Deila plays down Odegaard talk
RONNY Deila has played down talk of Celtic bringing Martin Odegaard to Glasgow on loan, after weeks of rumours suggesting the Norwegian starlet was on his way to Scotland.
Speaking to Norwegian newspaper VG before last night’s 4-1 win over Stjarnan, Deila said: “It is something that has been invented by the media. It’s certainly not something we have thought about.
“I think Martin has to be in Madrid now. He is a wonderful boy and a very good footballer. There has been no contact there. We have a good squad now.” (VG)
Hibs knock back Rangers bid for Allan
HIBS have rejected an initial bid from Rangers to lure the Easter Road club’s prize asset Scott Allan to Ibrox.
It’s understood the Glasgow club’s offer was so low that it took the Easter Road board only seconds to turn it down.
While Hibs expect their Championship rivals to return with at least one more effort to tempt them to sell the midfielder, the club’s directors are expected to hold firm. (The Scotsman)
Brazilian Branco joins up at Hearts
HEARTS have signed Brazilian central defender Igor Rossi Branco from Portuguese club Maritimo.
The 26-year-old left-sided player has signed a one-year contract and believes he will fit in well with the Jambos’ style of play following talks with director of football Craig Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson. (The Scotsman)
King seeking Sports Direct talks
DAVE King is reportedly seeking further talks with Sports Direct to discuss the merchandising deal at Ibrox.
Many Rangers fans are boycotting club merchandise due to the link with Mike Ashley. (Various)
Waghorn dismisses Hibs as ‘basic’
MARTYN Waghorn has stoked the fire ahead of Saturday’s Petrofac Training Cup clash with Hibs at Easter Road by describing Alan Stubbs’ team as ‘basic’ and ‘nothing great’.
Waghorn, who scored a late double to give Wigan a 2-1 win over Hibs in a bounce game in La Manga, said: “Once you cut out Scott Allan and stopped them from playing that was it really.
“Everything pretty much went through him. Wigan counteracted that and got Allan out of the game.” (The Sun)
Killie eye Zaliukas move
KILMARNOCK could be set to add a fifth former Hearts player to their squad after being linked with former Tynecastle captain Marius Zaliukas.
The Lithuanian has fallen out of favour at Rangers and could link up with ex-Hearts boss Gary Locke. However, it is thought that Killie would have to shift some players in order to free up the funds to acquire Zaliukas. (Daily Express)
Rangers linked with Brentford midfielder
RANGERS could move for midfielder Jonathan Douglas.
The 33-year-old has been told he is free to leave Brentford and could link up with ex-Bees boss Mark Warburton at Ibrox.
A former Republic of Ireland international, Douglas has bags of experience under his belt, and spent four seasons with Leeds as well as two with Swindon. He chipped in with 15 goals in 156 matches for Brentford. (Daily Express)
Deila calls on Celtic to raise game for Qarabag
RONNY Deila has admitted that Celtic will need to raise their game in the next phase of their bid to reach the group stage of the Champions League.
Celtic had to come from behind against Icelandic part-timers Stjarnan in Reykjavik last night to grab a 4-1 win and a 6-1 aggregate success in their second qualifying round tie. They will now face Azerbaijani champions Qarabag.
“We need to improve,” said Deila. “Qarabag are a good team. I watched the first leg of their game against Rudar. It is a big step up from this.” (The Scotsman)
News in brief
• Dundee United striker Henri Anier has turned down a move to Ekstraklasa side Wisla Krakow
• Ian Black has been offered a contract by Berwick Rangers after a trial period
• Scots starlet Jack Harper could leave Real Madrid and join Brighton