Celts boss wants more signings to aid recovery
Aim: Postecoglou wants more new signings (pic: SNS Group)
Europa League, 3rd qualifying round, 2nd legs
Celtic 3 FC FK Jablonec 0 (agg: 7-2)
St Johnstone 2 Galatasaray 4 (agg: 3-5)
Celtic continued their recovery from a poor start to the season by sweeping aside Jablonec to set up a Europa League play-off against AZ Alkmaar.
Since being dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers and losing to Hearts in their opening league game, Ange Postecoglou’s side has built up some much-needed momentum.
Three victories in a row with 13 goals scored in the process has averted talk of a crisis for the moment.
Celtic did the hard part in the Czech Republic last week, the 4-2 win paving the way for them to complete the job in the east end of Glasgow.
Postecoglou was delighted with his team’s efforts as David Turnbull (2) and James Forrest rounded off a dominant display and is now looking to further strengthen his squad.
He said: “I would like it, that’s the honest answer and we’ll certainly try. But what I like and what can happen in the reality of that is different. We’re working awfully hard, I guarantee you. Not a moment goes past, off the field the whole club’s working hard to make sure we can do it.
“But I’ve just got to temper that by saying we’ve done really well with the ones we’ve brought in so far. They’ve added something to this football club.
“I want to resist bringing players in just for the sake of it. Part of the issue is mine, I’m selective with the players I want to bring in.
“But I’m certainly pushing to get bodies in.
“There’s been plenty of names banded about but for us it hasn’t been about us having one target.
“We know that in the current climate some things take longer than others and we’ve just got to be really patient and diligent in our work.”
Before tackling the Dutch in the first leg of the play-off next week, Celtic host Hearts in the Scottish League Cup on Sunday.
In Perth, the fairytale which St Johnstone had been dreaming of failed to materialise, though they emerged with huge credit from their meeting with Turkish giants Galatasaray.
As in the first leg, the Saints gave their illustrious opponents a run for their money, although the Turks’ quality eventually proved too much.
“The players never gave up and I can’t ask for any more than that,” said boss Callum Davidson.
“Our heads could have gone down but they never did. We were beaten by a quality side, who were trying to qualify for the Champions League just a few weeks ago.
“It’s a great experience for the players and hopefully we can go a bit further now we are in the Conference League.”
All smiles: Aberdeen (pic: SNS Group).
Europa Conference League, 3rd qualifying round, 2nd legs
HNK Rijeka 4 Hibs 1 (agg: 5-2)
Stadion HNK Rijeka
Aberdeen 2 Breidablik 1 (agg: 5-3)
It was a night to forget for Hibs in Croatia as they paid dearly for the sending off of Darren McGregor.
With the tie level on aggregate, the defender was dismissed midway through the second half moments after Kyle Magennis had netted for the Easter Road outfit, the home side going on to score three times against the 10-man Hibees.
“I think when we reflect on the tie overall there are a couple of key aspects,” said boss Jack Ross.
“One not coming here with a lead from the opportunities we created at Easter Road. Tonight we went toe to toe with a good team in their own stadium and the atmosphere was electric but we stood up to it.
“Mistakes happen and it’s our response to it as a group that will be key. He (McGregor) knows because he’s honest that it had a major bearing on how the game unfolded.
“There was a real strong belief we could progress. The players have earned the right to believe with their performances over the past 18 months. We are sore because the scoreline looks like we got a doing. We didn’t get that tonight. It was just the manner in which the last part of the game unfolded for us.”
There were 15,000 fans inside Pittodrie to see Aberdeen move within one round of the group phase of the Europa Conference League.
Ryan Hedges scored both the Dons goals against Breidablik of Iceland, Stephen Glass’ side set to face Qarabag to extend their stay in Europe.
“We knew they were going to be tough. We had to make a change of shape at half-time and it helped us get over the line.
“Joe [Lewis] had one good save but apart from that we were in control. If we took half the chances we created we would’ve been well out of sight earlier.”