Bhoys bounce back from Champions League disappointment

Celtic 2 Livingston 0

The Scottish champions responded to missing out on the money-spinning group stages in typically defiant fashion with a 2-0 victory over Livingston at Parkhead.

But after the match, manager Martin O'Neill revealed that Balde had been called up by the Guinea national team for the African Nations qualifying game against Liberia next Sunday while young striker Shaun Maloney had signed a three-year contract extension.

''A lot of boys are going away on

international duty now and Bobo has got an international call-up," he said. "He has just told me the FA sent him documents instead of us. He wants to play for his country.

''I also think Shaun's signed a new three-year contract, which he has

deserved.''

Speculation over the weekend linking Neil Lennon with a move to Aston Villa could have affected morale but the Celtic boss denied the English club had made an approach.

''There's definitely nothing in that at all,'' he insisted. ''That's news to us.''

Having missed out on the group stages after their defeat to FC Basle, the Scottish champions bounced back to maintain their 100% winning start on the domestic front and stay top of the table with goals from Henrik Larsson and Balde.

"Overall, considering the disappointment of Wednesday night it was good to win," said O'Neill.

''It was important to bounce back and I thought, given the circumstances, the players did very well. You could sense in the dressing room beforehand they had the desire to do well.

''I made some changes, but I thought overall, we coped well with everything.The crowd were naturally very down and the players sensed that before the game, so I'm glad we came through that.''

Livingston manager Jim Leishman was upbeat despite his side's defeat and thought his side could have taken something from the game had they started as well as they finished.

Dadi and David Bingham went close after the break and the charismatic coach admitted: ''We definitely played better in the second half. Had we took one or two of those late chances it could have been lot closer at the end.

''But even though I'm disappointed we didn't get anything, we can take a lot of positives from the game.''

CELTIC: Hedman, Balde, Valgaeren, Laursen, Agathe, McNamara, Fernandez (Thompson 80), Petrov, Guppy, Larsson (Maloney 68), Sutton (Hartson 69).

LIVINGSTON: Broto, Andrews, Rubio, Dorado (Varate 61), Brinquin (Bollan 66), Makel, Lovell (Toure-Maman 60), Quino, Bahoken, Dadi, Bingham.

Referee: A Freeland (Aberdeen).

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