Celtic manager Ronny Deila has challenged his side to find an extra edge in attack after narrowly scraping past Qarabag 1-0 in the first leg of their third-round tie in UEFA Champions League qualifying.
Dedryck Boyata’s 82nd-minute header snatched victory at Parkhead, after Qarabag goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic had impressively kept them at bay.
Progression to the play-offs is far from secure though, with Qarabag having proven their mettle on home soil in last season’s Europa League, where only beaten finalists Dnipro came away from Baku with a win.
“This game is definitely not won yet,” the Norwegian warned.
“We appreciate they are a good team and are at home.
“But if we score one then they need score three and that is positive. I think we have a good chance, but everything can still happen.
“There is speed in the team to counter-attack. We have hard-working midfielders. We also have a good defence. The two central defenders were class today. We hardly conceded a chance so defensively we were very, very strong.
“In the first half the ball went too slow and we didn’t create enough two-against-one situations and enough crosses.
“In the second half, we got better. We had possession and pressure on them, but we have to turn that into chances.”
Nadir Ciftci, yet to score his first Celtic goal, was preferred to Leigh Griffiths in attack, but Deila revealed it was not a wholly tactical choice.
Deila explained: “It wasn’t so hard a decision because Leigh has struggled the whole night with a tooth problem. He was at the dentists in the morning and he hasn’t slept. So the decision was easier.
“I think Nadir played very well tonight and Leigh came on and he was involved in getting the goal, but you can see also that he wasn’t at it like he normally is because he hadn’t had enough sleep last night.”
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