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Stefan Johansen focused on firing Celtic into Champions League

Stefan Johansen focused on firing Celtic into Champions League

Stefan Johansen says he is focused on firing Celtic into the Champions League after helping the Hoops to an opening day defeat of Ross County in the Scottish Premiership.

The Glasgow giants got the defence of their title off to a winning start thanks to a fourth-minute penalty from Leigh Griffiths before Norwegian midfielder Johansen rifled home a second in the 35th minute.

It was a far from convincing performance from the Scottish champions as they prepare to take a slender 1-0 advantage to Azerbaijan for the second leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie against FK Qarabag on Wednesday.

And Johansen admitted the Celtic players` thoughts may have been drifting towards Wednesday`s crucial clash.

"Obviously the Champions League is such an important thing for the club and for all the players," the Norwegian international said.

"Some of our focus might have been on that but we wanted to be professional and go out there and get the three points. We did that and now we can prepare for Wednesday.

"I think we will need to score there. With the away goal rule it is important not to concede at home. We did that and in the end we scored an important goal.

"We have a good result to go over there with but the match is far from done.

"I always feel like I can score but I don`t care if I get the goal as long as we get the result we need to go through."

Johansen, who was crowned Scotland`s player of the year last season, enjoyed a successful campaign with the Hoops as they claimed a league and League Cup double.

However, the midfielder says he is setting his sights even higher this season after the disappointment of missing out on Champions League football with Celtic last time out.

"The good thing about football is you can always try to improve yourself and the team," Johansen said.

"The most important thing for me is to win trophies with Celtic. Personal awards show that you had a good season but in the end it is what you do with the club that counts. 

"I really want to go into the Champions League and after that I can focus on winning more titles with Celtic."

The Hoops could welcome back a host of players for the match in Azerbaijan.

"Leigh Griffiths will be back again on Wednesday," manager Ronny Deila revealed after the striker limped out of the game with Ross County. 

"It is just a knock in the calf. Nothing is pulled.

"Kris Commons came on and made a difference. I think it is too early for him to start but he will be on the bench and can come on affect the game.

"There are no problems with Nir Biton and he will be ready. We are not 100 percent sure yet with Charlie Mulgrew but he will be back in the next week sometime. We will see if it is Wednesday or Saturday.

"Emilio Izaguirre missed out today because of a suspension from last year. Mikael Lustig is training well and everything is going the right way with him as well." 

From Zee News

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