Tuesday 28 March 2017

Ronny Deila ref rage as Celtic seal last-gasp victory

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow

Ronnie Esplin

Celtic boss Ronny Deila described Nir Bitton's sending-off against Partick as a "little bit stupid" after a last-gasp winner by substitute Leigh Griffiths gave the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders a barely deserved 1-0 win.

The Israel midfielder was booked by referee Stephen Finnie for a foul on Stuart Bannigan in the 61st minute and survived another challenge on Abdul Osman moments before he got his second yellow card for a late barge on Jags substitute Gary Miller.

Griffiths, who replaced Nadir Ciftci at the start of the second half, grabbed his 20th goal of the season in the 89th minute to bring cheers of relief from a hitherto disgruntled home support, with the champions moving three points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table.

Asked about Bitton's dismissal, the Norwegian said: "I think it was very easy, I don't think it was a red card.

"Having said that, it was also a little bit stupid because there was an incidence before that.

"I don't think that was a yellow card either and then the other one, those two together made the decision for the referee.

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scores his side's first goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scores his side's first goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 2, 2016. See PA story SOCCER Celtic. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY

"I think it was inexperience and something he needs to learn from."

After failing to win any of his previous four home matches, and taking one point from his last six, Deila admitted the victory over Thistle was "vital" although he claimed happiness rather than relief was his overwhelming feeling.

He said: "You can call it that (relief), I will call it happiness. I am so happy that we scored and got three points.

"It was vital of course, it is about confidence as well.

"You could see that we were a little bit anxious out there, the angles and pressing weren't as normal.

"They were a good passing team, they kept the ball well and we couldn't really get into the game.

"When Leigh came on we were the more dangerous, he went behind them and in the end got the chance we needed to win the game."

Griffiths, who had missed four matches with a calf injury, admitted he was "a bit surprised" to get the nod from Deila at half-time.

Asked if there was a worry that he relied too much on the Scotland international, the Celtic manager said: "Every team relies on some players, of course they do.

"I am happy to have him back and happy that Jamesie (James Forrest) came on as well and made a difference.

"But we are a team and that is why we have a squad, to make changes during the game and today they were the difference."

Thistle boss Alan Archibald was "absolutely gutted" with his side's first defeat in seven and claimed Bitton's dismissal worked against his side.

He said: "We put a lot into the game and deserved to take something from it. We had good shape about ourselves.

"I thought the sending-off changed the game for the worse for us. I thought we had a good rhythm and shape and it upset us a little bit.

"I was happy with the way we were playing and it upset the rhythm."

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