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STJARNAN KEEPER KNEW THE SCORE

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STJARNAN keeper Gunnar Nielsen reckons Celtic played right into his hands with the penalty-kick bust-up in midweek.

Stefan Johansen won the second-half spot-kick and wanted to take it, but then got involved in an unsightly scuffle with regular kicker Leigh Griffiths.

The former Well No 1 was DELIGHTED when Ronny Deila signalled for Griffiths to take the kick, because he had been told in advance by Stjarnan assistant boss Brynjar Gunnarsson where his penalty would be going.

Nielsen made a flying save to his right – his second consecutive penalty stop at Celtic Park after he had previously denied Kris Commons with Well – to keep the score at 2-0 and the Icelandic champions in the tie.

Nielsen said: “Our assistant manager had been watching DVDs of Celtic and he had told me before the game where Leigh would shoot if he took one.

“So, I was very pleased when he stepped up and hit it where I expected him to.

“If I hadn’t made that save then the tie would definitely have been over at 3-0. It’s still going to be really hard, but if we can make it a bit awkward for them back home you never know.”

The Faroese international believes Stjarnan can turn things around in the unwelcoming surroundings of their Samsungvollur ground.

He reckons the Hoops could fall in the same way Motherwell did in the Europa League last season.

Nelsen said: “They were shocked and we can be quite good when we sit deep and hit on the counter-attack.

“Also, if we can score first then Celtic will become really nervous. They pride themselves on playing in the Champions League – this is everything for them.

“Of course, the Premiership is important to them, but the Champions League is what they really want so they could be a little worried, especially on our pitch.”

The Stjarnan shotstopper was frustrated with the way his side lost their goals at Celtic Park.

They conceded a set-piece header to Dedryck Boyata seconds before the interval, and then lost another after the break when they were caught on the counter.

He said: “We were really annoyed at losing that first goal when we did. They had a lot of possession and we knew that if we switched off for just a second then they could punish us.

“That’s exactly what happened, which was a shame. But we had a couple of good chances against them at 1-0 and that will give us confidence for the second leg. I expect that the return will be similar to the game at Parkhead.

“We will make it hard for them on our pitch and if we can take our chances this time then we will see what happens.”

Nielsen came through the ranks with new Bhoy Boyata at Manchester City and believes he can make his mark at Celtic.

Nielsen added: “He’s a good player, as he showed by the way he drove forward against us. He will be a good signing for Celtic.

“At City, Dedryck had too many players in front of him – people like Vincent Kompany, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Martin De Michelis and Eliaquim Malanga.”

 
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