Sunday 23 October 2016

Johansen has Euro goal in mind after solid start

Stefan Johansen
Stefan Johansen

Stefan Johansen helped Celtic clear the first domestic hurdle of the season on Saturday then turned his thoughts immediately to a much more tricky test in Europe.

On a day that Lisbon Lion John Clark unfurled the 2014/15 Premiership flag to signify the Hoops' fourth successive championship win, the Norway midfielder grabbed the second goal in the 2-0 win over Ross County.

Striker Leigh Griffiths had opened the scoring at Parkhead from the spot in the fourth minute and Johansen's strike from inside the penalty area in the 35th minute after being set up by Gary Mackay-Steven, his third goal in four games, ultimately sealed the win.

The Ladbrokes Premiership champions will travel to Azerbaijan looking to defend the 1-0 lead against Qarabag in the second leg of their Champions League third qualifier on Wednesday night.

Johansen is hoping he has another goal in the locker for the trip to Baku but knows that passage to the play-off is much more important.

"It was good to get started with a 2-0 result," said the 24-year-old.

"We wanted to go out and put early pressure on them in the first half and we got an early goal and then scored a second.

"The second half wasn't too good but at the end of the day we got three points so it was a good game before Wednesday.

"The Champions League is such an important thing for the club and for everyone so the focus is on that also.

"But we wanted to be professional and get three points and we did a professional job in the end and now we prepare for Wednesday.

"I don't care if I score, the most important thing is we go through to the next round.

"I think we will need to score over there though. When you have the away goal rule, it is important you don't concede at home and we didn't do that and scored an important goal.

"So we have a good result to go there with but the job is far from done."

County had seven of their summer signings in the starting line-up, one of whom was keeper Scott Fox.

The former Partick Thistle number one, who started his career at Celtic, saw enough from his new team-mates to offer encouragement for the season ahead.

He said: "We'll still take a lot from the game because we created a few chances and tested Craig Gordon who had a few good saves. We were just unlucky.

"It was a tough one to start with. We went there trying to get something from the game but it wasn't to be and we move on to next week."

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