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Ange Postecoglou praises Celtic’s perseverance as they take control of tie

Celtic v AZ Alkmaar – UEFA Europa League – Play-Off – First Leg – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised his side’s perseverance after a 2-0 Europa League play-off first-leg win over AZ Alkmaar.

Goals in each half from Kyogo Furuhashi and James Forrest earned the Hoops a healthy lead to take to the Netherlands, but AZ showed good ambition and attacking threat at times.

Postecoglou said: “I thought it was a cracking game of football. They took it to us at times, we had to work hard and show resilience, but the pleasing thing for me was we didn’t yield or change our approach.

“We were still trying to be brave and even the times it didn’t work out, we just got back on the horse and went again. Our reward for that was getting the two goals.”

It was a fifth consecutive win for Celtic and a second clean sheet in five European ties this season.

There were some close shaves, with goalkeeper Joe Hart getting a touch on a shot to knock it onto a post, while Anthony Ralston and Stephen Welsh in particular put in some impressive clearances.

“Look, I’m not one to pop champagne corks over clean sheets,” Postecoglou said. “It’s more about how we defend and I thought for the most part we defended really well and Joe has made some good saves at different times.

“For the most part we kept some of their threats to a minimum. We worked awfully hard with our pressing and for the second goal, the pressing we did to win the ball back shows we are developing both sides of our game.”

Croatia right-back Josip Juranovic is expected to arrive in Glasgow on Friday to complete a £2.5million move from Legia Warsaw but Postecoglou was not getting ahead of himself over the move.

“We’ve got to sign him first,” he said when asked when he might be available. “Until we sign people I’m not going to comment on when they’re coming in.

“The reality of it is, nothing has been completed yet.

“When I write my book you will see how many near misses we have had and you will understand why I’m waffling along like this all the time. Until we get things done, we will just focus on getting the deals done.”