Ronny Deila’s first official match as Scottish club Celtic’s coach ended in a nail-biting victory on Tuesday. Another debutant, Callum McGregor scored in the final five minutes against KR Reykjavik to clinch the win in the team’s second Champions League qualifying round.
Celtic was the favourite going into the match in Iceland, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The Scots had most of the scoring opportunities, especially star striker Kris Commons, but found the bar or Reykjavik keeper Stefan Logi Magnusson every time. Celtic couldn’t capitalize on an agonizing triple chance 15 minutes before the end, which ended with forward Teemu Puuki facing an open goal but kicking the ball into the post.
Finally, McGregor broke through the tight defense at the 85 minute mark and scored in his first match for Celtic, the ball deflecting of a Reykjavik player’s leg on its way into the net.
“We created a lot and deserved the goal, and perhaps a couple more,” Deila told BBC after the match. “I would however have been happy with 0-0. My philosophy is to learn and become better each day. It is important for us to play matches.”
The victory set Celtic in good stead ahead of the second match, to be played in Edinburgh next Tuesday. Celtic has reached the Champions League group stage for the past three years. The Scottish League starts on August 13.