2-0 tonight is a fair reflexion of the game from what ive read online ,wasnt able to make the game and had to make do with score updates and wee bit of radio commentary and had Leigh Griffiths scored with the penalty it would have been really comfortable next week,but the scoreline kinda makes it edgy for the return game,I don’t see any upsets and were more than capable of seeing out the tie but we shouldnt be complacent ,it was good to see the return of Lustig and Mulgrew who had long-term injuries and the depth in the current squad for season 2015-16 looks good,2 of our new players Ciftci and Boyata featured tonight and it was Boyata who scored goal number 1 on 45 mins with a neat header,going in at the half leading 1-0 celtic would have realised it was going to be one of those nights where they would have to gut it out…………
The visitors started the 2 nd half well and created a few chances but Celtics Johanson took the wind out their sails on 56 mins finishing a neat move with Armstrong the provider who sent an accurate pass into the box for the norwegian to score ,this should have been the cue for the floodgates to open but like euro nights of the past we stuttered a bit ,Griffiths introduction on the hour seen Ronnie Deila switch to a 4.4.2 formation and having Ciftci and Griffiths as the front 2 could have paid off ,the 2 players linked up well and on first showing looks like it could be a goaladen season for both with what many believe will be the teams main strikers,the penalty award on 75 mins could have seen the hoops extend there lead to 3 but the icelandic keeper saved well from the Griffiths penalty kick…..
next week in Iceland we will hope to finish the job the game is being shown live on bt sport 2 ,negotiating this first hurdle will still be tough as the Icelanders did show some danger in the game and on their own pitch at home they will fancy doing a few of there already famous celebrations,if Celtic can keep them on the backfoot I can see them getting a few away goals Ciftci looked so hungry to get that first competitive goal I wouldn’t bet against the new hoops front man bagging something,all in it’s a win tonight and no goals were conceded so we can be optimistic for the 2 nd leg next wed night hh…
SD Eibar v Celtic
18th July 2015
Kick Off 17:00
OFFICIAL MATCH REPORT
UEFA Champions League
Second round qualifier 1st leg
Wednesday, July 15
(Boyata 45, Johansen 56)
CELTIC opened their 2015/16 UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign with a confident 2-0 victory over FC Stjarnan at Paradise.A headed goal just before half-time from debut Bhoy Dedryck Boyata was complimented by a fine finish from Stefan Johansen in the second-half to give Ronny Deila’s side a solid lead going into next week’s second leg of the second round qualifier in Iceland.The Celts missed the opportunity to put the tie out of sight when second-half substitute Leigh Griffith’s penalty was saved by Gunnar Nielsen but the win should be enough to give the champions the belief tthat they can finish the tie on the road next week.
The match saw a double debut for the Celts with new Bhoys Boyata and Nadir Ciftci making their competitive bows in front of the home crowd. Mikael Lustig also took his place in the side at right-back for the first time in a competitive game since February.Charlie Mulgrew started in central defence alongside Boyata in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, who served a one-match ban following his red card against Inter Milan in the UFEA Europa League last season. Ronny Deila was also forced to make one change before kick-off as Gary Mackay-Steven was replaced by James Forrest.
The first real chance came 10 minutes in when sustained pressure from Celtic forced a hurried clearance from the Stjarnan defence, which fell to Stefan Johansen 30 yards out.
The Norwegian controlled well and spotted the run of Ciftci, who gathered the pass in the box and spun his marker but his low shot was saved well by Nielson.High pressing from the Celts then won their first corner after Ciftci had a snap shot from 20 yards out. Johansen swung the set-piece in but Bitton couldn’t make a connection in the six yard box.A string of goal-scoring chances were then passed up by the champions as they continued to weave their way through the Stjarnan back-line. Johansen saw a volley in the area go inches wide before Armstrong took aim with his right from distance on 24 minutes but his shot whistled just over.
A quick throw-out from Craig Gordon then sparked a brilliant Celtic counter attack just before the half hour mark, allowing Johansen to drive at the Icelandic champions’ box and set up Armstrong inside the area but Nielsen got a block on the winger’s effort to keep the scores even. Stjarnan looked like they had done their research and their compact defensive set up continued to frustrate Deila’s men. The Bhoys remained undeterred, however, and the Icelanders’ rearguard was finally penetrated by a well-worked set piece after the Celts won a corner on the rightJohansen varied his approach by playing it short to Lustig and the Swede returned the ball to the attacker who had worked a wider angle for the cross. He then curled a pin-point ball into the six yard box where Boyata towered above his marker to power the ball home.
The breakthrough was well-deserved and came at the perfect time, just on the stroke of half-time.Celtic stormed out of the blocks after the restart to press home the advantage gained before the break but that left gaps at the back for Stjarnan, who displayed more confidence coming forward and created two dangerous chances before the Bhoys doubled their advantage through Player of the Year, Johansen.Mulgrew carried the ball forward on 56 minutes and played it to Armstrong on the left wing. The attacker cut inside and ran parallel to the box before playing an incisive through ball to Johansen 12 yards out who calmly clipped his shot round Nielsen with one touch to put the Celts 2-0 up.Leigh Griffiths was then introduced before the hour mark as Forrest made way and Celtic went 4-4-2.
The fresh approach gave the Bhoys a wealth of talent in the attacking department and it wasn’t long before the Edinburgh hit-man and Ciftci began to link up with clever flicks and interchanging runs. Captain Scott Brown also got in on the action as the Hoops morphed into full attacking flow and the skipper showed brilliant feet in the box to dance around a cluster of defenders but his shot was straight at Nielsen.Armstrong also continued to torment the Stjarnan defence and he clipped a delightful ball in for Johansen just after 70 minutes but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar. Johansen then turned provider as Celtic again tried to get Ciftci a debut goal but the striker couldn’t divert the midfielder’s cross on target.
Attack remained the order of the day, however, as Anthony Stokes replaced the Turkish forward on the 74th minute as the Bhoys chased a third goal.Celtic were then awarded a penalty just minutes later when Johansen was pushed in back as he gathered a flick-on from Brown in the box. Griffiths stepped up to take the kick and fired it to Nielsen’s right with power but the keeper got two strong hands to the effort and pushed it wide.Goal-scorer Boyata then made way for Efe Ambrose as the game approached its conclusion but the Bhoys remained on the front foot and had a chance to make it 3-0 just before the final whistle but Johansen’s powerful drive inside the box went over the bar before the referee called time to give the Celts a solid advantage heading to Iceland next week.
CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Ambrose 82), Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven (Forrest, before kick-off; Forrest off for Griffiths 58), Johansen, Armstrong; Ciftci (Stokes 74)
FC STJARNAN (4-2-3-1) Nielsen; Aegisson, Gudjonsson, D Laxdal, Arnason; Praest, A. Johannsson (Runarsson 73) Bjorgvinsson (Ottesen 86), Finsen, H.O. Bjornsson (Gunnarsson 80); Hansen