Sport

Rogic a revelation for Bhoys in victory at Thistle

Celtic's Tom Rogic celebrates celebrates opening the scoring against Partick Thistle at the Firhill Stadium on Sunday
Picture: PA
Andy Newport

RONNY DEILA admitted he had no idea who Tom Rogic was when he first moved to Celtic - but has now hinted the Australian could have played his way into the Hoops' Champions League line-up.

The 22-year-old netted his first goal for the club while making his first Hoops start in almost two years as Deila's team beat Partick 2-0 at Firhill. The £400,000 signing from Central Coast Mariners has not been seen in a Celtic starting XI since the infamous League Cup shocker to Morton back in September 2013.

He was sent back to his homeland for a loan spell with Melbourne Victory ahead of last year's World Cup, but fitness issues ruled him out of the Socceroos' squad for Brazil. And he was a permanent absentee in Deila's first season in Glasgow as a string of injury problems left him unable to play a part.

But Deila has been impressed by a player he confessed he knew little about since he returned to training and the Norwegian manager could now throw him into action as Celtic aim to qualify for the Champions League group stages.

Speaking after the Labdrokes Premiership victory - sealed by Kris Commons' second half strike - Deila said: "Tom was very good for the first 40 minutes. You can see what kind of talent he is with his touch of the ball and awareness.

"He has a lot of things that he can give to the team and I think we will see much more of him. When I came here, I hadn't heard anything about him, so I didn't know who he was.

"He was injured the whole time for almost a year last season, but once we got him started again I saw that he had something special. I told him he would never leave this club before he gets a real chance and now he is showing that he deserves that chance.

"I felt very sorry for Tom in my first eight months here when he just walked around not able to do anything because of injury. But he has the mentality to succeed."

Asked if he was a candidate to start for the club in their Champions League play-off clashes with Malmo, Deila said: "He was on the bench in Baku and, yeah, he has shown he is an option for our team."

Celtic endured a six-hour flight back from Azerbaijan on Wednesday night after edging out Qarabag in their Euro qualifier. That gruelling trip took its toll on Scott Brown's hamstring, while Stuart Armstrong had to come off after 20 minutes with stiffness in his groin.

But otherwise, there was little signs of tiredness in the first half as Celtic romped forward at will. Their goal came after 28 minutes as Rogic finished off Leigh Griffiths' tee-up with an instinctive flick.

Thistle posed the Hoops little threat, although they did claim for a penalty when Mikael Lustig handled in the box. The Swede was facing the wrong way when Callum Booth's cross made contact wirh his arm and referee John Beaton was spot on, waving the appeals away.

Partick threw on Mathias Pogba - brother of Juventus star Paul - after the break, but Commons wrapped up victory for the visitors midway through a subdued second half as he clipped the ball over Tomas Cerny following Nir Bitton's speared ball forward.

"We didn't do enough, we didn't make it a battle," admitted Jags boss Alan Archibald.

"We probably showed them too much respect. Pogba came on and showed he gives us something a bit different. You can see centre-halves are a bit wary of him. We just need to make sure we get good service to him.

"I know it's hard for referees, but it's either a penalty or not. There are too many grey areas. We have had the same decision go against us, which is frustrating. We just need to get on with it and move on." 

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