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Former Celtic captain Tom Boyd says Molde deliberately plotted to take out central defender Jozo Simunovic in their recent Europa League success at Celtic Park.
The Norwegian side completed home and away victories over Ronny Deila’s men courtesy of their 2-1 triumph in Glasgow.
Celtic have struggled defensively this season in the wake of Virgil van Dijk’s departure to Southampton but Simunovic has impressed since he signed from Dinamo Zagreb.
The 21-year-old Croatian had been a fitness concern in the run up to Molde’s visit and Boyd feels the early challenge that resulted in Simunovic being forced off may have carried some malice.
“The tackle that injured him, if you watch it back again, is actually an awkward one and the player who goes in on him almost leads with the wrong foot. He seems keen to get that particular ankle,” said Boyd.
“It was late and I do think that it was deliberate. There has been no secret that Celtic have struggled defensively this season but they have looked more assured when Jozo has been in there.
“Having him out of the game so early most certainly worked in Molde’s favour.”
The defeat left Celtic bottom of Group A after four games, with just two points on the board. The positivity of their early draw in Amsterdam against Ajax has dissipated and, having let slip a two-goal lead at home to Fenerbahce, they have since lost twice to surprise group leaders Molde.
Celtic must avoid defeat in their next game at home to Ajax to keep their chances of qualification alive.
The Hoops are 2.30 to defeat Ajax in Glasgow. The Dutch side are 2.88 and the draw is 3.30.