Kris Commons rejects Ronny Deila's claims after Celtic's Champions League exit

Celtic Stands

The Hoops were defeated by Malmo last night and will now enter the draw for the Europa League group stage.

Celtic midfielder Kris Commons has denied that fear was a factor in the Bhoys' 2-0 defeat to Malmo on Tuesday night in an interview with STV Sport.

Hoops boss Ronny Deila had suggested the players were ‘scared’ and ‘frightened’ after they failed to impose themselves on a hungry Malmo side. But one of his charges disagrees.

"I wouldn't say it was fear," said Commons, "I don't think we played with fear. When you’ve just got the one goal you’re thinking that if you can get a clean sheet you’re through, so it’s a completely different outlook.

"They came into the game knowing that they need a goal, whereas as we were trying to do just enough to keep a clean sheet."

Nir Bitton had a goal harshly ruled out and Commons felt that could have been a game-changer, adding:

"If we had come in at half-time at 1-1, when we scored from a corner, then it puts a completely different complex on the game. But it wasn’t to be."

Deila went further and claimed that the players appeared stressed and failed to cope with the pressure - claims which Commons also denied.

"On a personal level, no I didn’t feel stressed,” said the 31-year old.

"I think it’s a stressful night because you know what’s waiting for you if you get through, but coming here with a one-goal lead put a big importance on the first goal."

Last night’s defeat sees Celtic fall at the qualifying stage for the second season in a row and the Hoops will now have to be content with competing in Europe’s second-tier competition, with the Europa League group stage draw taking place on Friday afternoon.

The failure to secure Champions League football is always a bitter blow for a Celtic team struggling to keep up with the finances of its European rivals.

Deila’s men exited the Europa League at the Round of 32 stage last season and will be hoping for a better showing this time around. Even then, though, it may not compensate for the disappointment of the play-offs.

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