RONNY Deila last night saw his side fail to clinch qualification for the knockout stage of the Europa league but refused to dwell on what he claimed was a wrongly disallowed Leigh Griffiths goal in the 1-1 draw at Astra Giurgiu
With Salzburg beating Dinamo Zagreb 5-1 in the other Group D match, Deila’s side were on course to reach the next phase with two games to spare when they led through an imperious first-half drive from Stefan Johansen. That was cancelled out by an equally fine finish by Brazilian William Amorim but when Griffiths netted what appeared to be an 84th-minute goal, Ukrainian referee Serhiy Boiko adjudged that he had fouled Cristian Cros before knocking in from close range.
While Deila was convinced the official had made the wrong call, he was sanguine about the incident in a tie he viewed as “two points dropped”.
His side now need to beat Salzburg at Celtic Park in three weeks time to be sure of finishing above Dinamo Zagreb.
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Deila said: “Everybody who has seen it again says it should be a goal. Leigh also thinks it was a goal. He said he didn’t do anything, so we should have won 2-1. Sometimes that happens and we have been lucky some other times.”
Although Deila insisted his team were in a better position at the end of last night’s tie than the start, he was annoyed that a decent performance against mundane opponents had not brought the desired outcome. Instead, it provided yet another instance of Celtic failing to hold on to a lead away from home in Europe, as has happened three times previously this season.
He added: “I think we deserved to win. We were the best team and in the first half we were excellent and scored a nice goal. In the second half, we controlled it quite well but they scored a fantastic goal. We had enough chances to kill the game and to win it but, in the end, we have one point and while I am not happy with that, it is better than nothing. Maybe we could have played more forward and attacked more [in the second half], but we seemed quite confident and had control. Astra’s goal came out of nothing. In the end, we had a chance afterwards to kill the game and win 2-1 but it wasn’t to be.
“I am frustrated by [the failure to hold on to leads] and we have something to work on when we go 1-0 ahead. We have to keep on playing offensively instead of trying to win the game 1-0. We should go for more. But they didn’t have many chances.
“The performance was okay, the result should be better.”
Deila was effusive in his praise of goalscorer Johansen, who delivered another excellent display in the advanced midfield role he has occupied in the absence of the injured Kris Commons
“He’s getting better and better every game, and today as well,” said the Celtic manager. “He’s starting to get more creative as well, creating chances as well as getting the goal. It’s just the start for him. He can be even better.”
Deila was relieved that freezing fog did not put paid to last night’s encounter which appeared in serious doubt until an hour before kick-off. By allowing it to go ahead the referee made one call that Deila did agree with. He added: “I was okay to get the game played so we don’t get any more games in the next month because the schedule is quite busy as it is.”
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