Boyata Goal Vital For Celtic In Search For Champions League Return

Celtic Park

Plenty of Celtic fans will have woken up this morning with finger nails bitten to the core as their side struggled to overcome Azerbaijan league champions Qarabag.

But as the minutes passed by and it looked as if Celtic were going to have to settle for a 0-0 draw, new summer signing Dedryck Boyata headed the ‘Bhoys’ in front with only eight minutes left on the clock.

That goal could prove to be vital, if Celtic are going to remain on course to return to the Champions League groups stages after a years absence.

It’s no secret that Celtic have suffered from a disappointing away record in their recent European history. Now things may not be as bad as the Martin O’Neill Champions League away days but names like Shakhter Karagandy, Legia Warsaw and Sion have all picked up big home wins against Celtic in recent seasons.

But at least Ronny Deila’s men have a lead to protect as they head for Baku next Wednesday. That one goal could be extremely important.

It means that Qarabag have to come out and attack the Scottish champions. That should allow Celtic the chance to counter attack and grab that vital away goal.

I was very surprised that Deila decided against starting Leigh Griffiths last night.

The Scottish striker has had a fantastic year so far and he was certainly needed after John Guidetti’s goals dried up after Christmas!

Griffiths has also enjoyed a goal laden preseason bagging goals against Rennes, Dukla Prague and a hattrick against Spanish La Liga side Eibar. He also scored in the second leg win over Icelandic side Starnan in the last round of Champions League qualifying.

I’m sure Ronny Deila has his reasons for starting Nadir Ciftci ahead of the Scottish international forward, but at the moment it’s puzzling me.

Getting a cleansheet at home, was another big plus for the Celtic side. Any loss of an away goal can be disastrous in a European tie and by not conceding one Celtic have enhanced their chances of securing a place in the next round of the competition.

Boyata’s late goal is extremely important for the Hoops but the tie is far from over!

The side from Glasgow’s east end will have to defend well in Azerbaijan and have high concentration levels from the off. They cannot afford to make a slow start and then chase the game if they concede any silly goals.

The Scottish Premiership champs also need to make the most of any chances that they can create against a resilient Qarabag.

Deila summed it up well in his post match press conference:

“We have to play a top match to get through.” 

Should they manage to do all that, then it could see Celtic reach the final qualifying round and take step closer to the Champions League group stages.

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