RONNY DEILA watched Nadir Ciftci score two welcome goals in the 3-0 win over St Johnstone – and then praised keeper Craig Gordon!
The Celtic boss gave the bulk of the credit to the shotstopper who took stick after losing a bizarre goal in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Fenerbahce in Istanbul.
However, Gordon made several excellent saves to deny the Perth side, especially when the game was delicately balanced on a tightrope.
Deila said: “The second-half was good, but we were troubled a bit in the first period when we didn’t get the play going.
“But we have a very good goalkeeper in Craig Gordon and a back four that was very solid, especially in central defence where they were doing a very good job.
“This year we have struggled a bit, so it was very nice to see that the boys are getting better.
“Remember, Craig did a lot of good things in Istanbul and I think he, too, is getting better and better. When you lose two central defenders (Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer) after last season, it takes time to get relations going.
“Also, when you have a new back four, it’s not easy for Craig standing behind it. Now they are getting an understanding and you can see better performances.”
The Hoops gaffer added: “In the second-half, you can see the boys getting more confidence when we scored goals and, in the end, we were playing some very good football.
“So, I’m very delighted. Ten times we have come back from Europe and ten times we have won. That cannot be bettered.”
Deila also gave an update on striker Leigh Griffiths who did not travel to Perth after failing to recover from the thigh strain that kept him out of the Europa League tie in Turkey.
He said: “Leigh was almost ready, so he should be okay for the game against Motherwell on Saturday.”
Nadir Ciftci led the line again in the absence of Griffiths and netted twice with Dedryck Boyata adding the other in a thoroughly-deserved triumph over a Saints outfit that had won nine of their previous 11 games.
*Tuesday is the deadline for us to post order from CQNBookstore.com to USA and Canada and Wednesday is the deadline for Western Europe, all for Christmas deliveries. If you’ve read Caesar & The Assassin you will want to continue the story of managing Celtic after Jock Stein with THE WINDS OF CHANGE. This new CQN book covers the period 1991-2005. Plenty more books, DVDs and Annuals to choose from when you Christmas shop at www.cqnbookstore.com