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‘ANNOYING’: AJER’S VIEW ON EURO FLOP

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KRISTOFFER AJER has described Cluj’s stunning 4-3 Champions League qualifying win at Parkhead in August as “annoying”.

That must be putting it mildly as Neil Lennon’s side toppled through the trapdoor of Europe’s most prestigious competition while waving goodbye to the possibility of a £30million cash boost for participating in the lucrative group stages among the elite.

It looked as though the Hoops had done the hard part by gaining a 1-1 draw in Romania the previous week.

At that stage, the Scots were already as good as through. And they also led twice in the east end of the city before eventually collapsing on a night of truly awful blunders that even saw skipper Scott Brown needlessly handle a corner-kick to hand Cluj a vital penalty-kick which was gleefully converted by the visitors.

It was an error-strewn encounter to forget and the teams lock horns again tonight when each play their second games in Europa League Group E.

ON THE BALL…Kristoffer Ajer in control.

An expertly-executed spot-kick from Ryan Christie gave the Hoops a deserved point in the 1-1 draw with Rennes in France a fortnight ago and Dan Petrescu’s side got off to a flying start with a 2-1 home triumph over Serie A Lazio.

Ajer is now prepared to help eradicate the memory of a woeful European performance in front of the Celtic support on this occasion and the Norwegian defender, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “We’ve looked through what we did wrong against Cluj.

“The backroom staff have worked really hard by showing us footage and pointing out how we can improve. We’re looking forward to this game.

“Obviously, they got the better of us at Celtic Park and it was an annoying night for us.

“We have to do better this time and get the points we need. You always want to concede the least amount of goals possible, so to lose four against them – especially at home – wasn’t good enough. We’ve looked through all part of that night and learned from it.

“We had everything planned well for the night and everyone was ready, but we were just a little bit flat in the first-half. We just conceded a few bad goals. Hopefully, that’s something we can now avoid.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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