CELTIC manager Ronny Deila last night accused his team of lacking professionalism after an argument over who should take a late penalty denied them the insurance of a three-goal first leg lead in their Champions League second qualifying round tie against Stjarnan.
Goals from Dedryck Boyata and Stefan Johansen secured a 2-0 win which makes Celtic heavy favourites to progress when the teams play the return fixture in Reykjavik next Wednesday. But Deila was left infuriated by the squabble between Johansen and Leigh Griffiths over the 78th minute spot-kick. Norwegian midfielder Johansen wanted to take it after being fouled in the box and reacted angrily when substitute Griffiths pulled rank on him.
To win 2-0 is still a good result. I hope we can finish the tie off nowRonny Deila
To make matters worse, Griffiths saw his kick saved by Stjarnan goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen. It mirrored an incident in last season’s League Cup final when James Forrest missed a penalty after a dispute with John Guidetti over who should take it.
“It is Leigh Griffiths who takes the penalties, it should be very clear,” said Deila. “That’s something we have to get out of the way. That’s hopefully last time we will see that happen. There is nothing professional about it. We shouldn’t fight about who takes a penalty.
“Of course it impacts on the taker, it gives extra pressure to him. The longer you have to wait, the more chance you have to miss it.
“Of course 3-0 is a totally different result to 2-0, so it’s disappointing. I haven’t spoken to Stefan about it yet. It’s too early to say if Leigh will remain the penalty-taker, but he is a good penalty-taker. We have a lot of players who can take a good penalty.”
Despite his irritation over the penalty incident, Deila was content that Celtic are on course to reach the third qualifying round.
“To win 2-0 is still a good result,” said Deila. “I hope we can finish the tie off now. We had chances to win by more but were not effective enough. It was good preparation for next Wednesday and we have a very good chance to reach the next stage.
“We deserved to win but could have scored more. Stjarnan also had one or two chances in the second half, so it was good they didn’t score. I’m happy with the result but not excited.”
Stjarnan manager Runar Pall Sigmundsson expressed his satisfaction with a defiant display from his players and believes the tie is far from over.
“I’m very proud of my team,” said Sigmundsson. “It was a very good performance and defensive play from us. We also had the chance to score an away goal and were unlucky not to get it. We had good control of defensive play, Celtic didn’t create so many chances against us in the first half. So it was disappointing to concede the first goal just before half-time.”
Former Motherwell goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen made a major contribution in restricting Celtic’s first-leg advantage, including the late penalty save from Griffiths.
“Gunnar is a fantastic goalkeeper and he made three or four great saves to keep us in the tie,” added Sigmundsson. “He was very good tonight.”