Celtic in the box seat for second leg
Manager Ronny Delia claimed that his side should have got more than a 1-1 draw
Celtic manager Ronny Delia. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
There was no doubt that the Hoops took advantage of their European reprieve.
Legia Warsaw had beaten the Scottish champions 6-1 on aggregate in the third qualifier but were effectively dumped out of the competition by UEFA for bringing on a player who should have been suspended in the second leg at Murrayfield, which left Deila’s side facing the Slovenian outfit instead.
Midfielder Callum McGregor shot the determined visitors into the lead in the sixth minute only to see his fourth goal in seven games cancelled out by Damjan Bohar.
Skipper Charlie Mulgrew and defender Virgil van Dijk both came close before the interval and midfielder Stefan Johansen missed great chance in the second half but nevertheless the Hoops are in the box seat going into the second leg at Celtic Park next Tuesday night.
Deila, though, believes their task in the return game might have been that bit more easier.
The Norwegian said: “I am very pleased with the performance. The players were fantastic for 90 minutes. We also created chances, 1-1 was a good result but we could have won the game.
“We were closing to win more than they were. I think we have to be more satisfied team. The away goal is vital, 1-1 is a much better result than 0-0.
“We learned a lesson in Legia, it was very early in the season and you try things but it is not just the system, they are fitter now and they know what is expected. It is getting better.
“Maribor was a very good team who are good on the counter attack but we were well organised and disciplined.
“They will be more dangerous away than at home but we have the advantage of Celtic Park. I have a good feeling that we are going to reach it (group stages).
Fellow Norwegian Johansen inadvertently blocked a van Dijk header on the line and missed a great chance in the second half but Deila could still smile.
He said: “He was the best defender for Maribor. It was a fantastic save. I think he was very good, it was a good performance by him, he was working hard, he is a leader on the pitch and he is progressing all the time. He should have had a goal as well but I was pleased with him.”
Maribor boss Ante Simundza insists his side are not out of the competition yet.
He said: “We wanted a positive result and we got one. We are still in the tie.
“Celtic were very solid in the first-half but we dominated the second half and I think the draw was fair. The result gives an advantage to Celtic with the away goal but we did equalise very quickly and we have to be satisfied.”