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Goals the worry for Celts title challenge says Strachan

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 19 Apr 2008

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Gordon Strachan admitted Celtic's inability to kill off teams is a major concern after they returned to the top of the Scottish Premier League with a nervy 1-0 win at home to Aberdeen on Saturday.

However, the Celtic manager says at this stage in the season all that matters is winning to keep up the pressure on Rangers.

As has happened on numerous occasions this season the Parkhead side failed to turn their possession into goals against the Dons.

Celtic almost paid dearly for their lack of scoring prowess when Aberdeen had a late goal controversially chopped off.

Although the result moved Strachan's side two points clear ahead of Rangers at the top of the table, the Ibrox side are still in the driving seat with three games-in-hand.

And the Celtic manager admits his side's scoring difficulties remain a worry.

Strachan said: “Aberdeen were unlucky not to score at the start of Saturday's match with a shot that hit both posts.

“After that we were comfortable without really threatening. We had one or two chances but nothing great because we were playing in the areas that Aberdeen wanted us to play.

“In the second half we played in areas they didn't want us to play and had better chances and the game became more exciting.

“We got the goal from a free-kick and then had opportunities to get the second which we couldn't take.

“It was more positive in the second half in terms of playing where we wanted to play.”

Strachan continued: “The second goal was the big one for us and we had opportunities to score it and finish the match off but couldn't do it.

“The big problem for us has been scoring goals to kill teams off. We are creating enough chances to score more but we're not taking them.

“But I'm not too bothered about how we won the game. In this town all that matters is winning, trust me.”

With first choice central defender Gary Caldwell suspended for the game, after he was sent-off at the end of the 2-1 victory over Rangers, Bobo Balde was given only his third start of the season.

The Guinean defender won the supporter's man-of-the-match award but Strachan would not be drawn on whether the player has a long-term future at the club.

The Celtic manager said: “Bobo did well on Saturday but who knows what the future holds for him or anyone else.

“He played so he's obviously still in my plans.”

Aberdeen had been desperately unlucky not to take the lead in the fifth minute.

Scott Severin's first-time right-foot shot from 25-yards beat Artur Boruc but struck the inside of the post, rolled along the line and bounced off the opposite post into the Polish goalkeeper's hands.

Despite Aberdeen's early chance Celtic dominated possession without ever looking like scoring in the first half.

However, after the break the home side stepped up a gear and deservedly opened the scoring in the 56th minute.

Barry Robson's free-kick found Greek striker Georgios Samaras at the front post and he headed the ball home from four yards.

In the closing seconds the Dons looked to have ended Celtic's title hopes with a late equaliser.

To the relief of Celtic, however, referee Iain Brines ruled out Zander Diamond's strike, adjudging the Dons defender had handled before playing a one-two with Barry Nicholson.

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