Alistair Johnston: Learning to be clinical can make Celtic 'a top team' 

The defender says fine margins are deciding tight games at the top level.

Alistair Johnston believes Celtic can still reach the Champions League knockout rounds and thinks being more clinical could make them ‘a top team’.

The Scottish champions suffered heartache as Pedro’s injury time goal gave Lazio a 2-1 win at Celtic Park and ensured that Brendan Rodgers’ side sit at the bottom of their group after two games.

Celtic had taken the lead against the Serie A side, and thought they had gone ahead late on when Luis Palma scored only to have an offside call chop the goal off.

Johnston admitted there is no room for error, with Wednesday’s defeat following the opening day loss to Feyenoord. Back-to-back games against group favourites Atletico come next but the Canadian remains optimistic.

“Our mind is still on getting out of this group,” he said. “I still think there’s a chance, but at the same time, this next match becomes all the more important.

“We know that, everyone knows that, you lose again and the ride is probably done.

“So you really dig in now and find a way in these next two matches against Atlético to get some points on the board.”

The defender has taken heart from performances and believes that some fine-tuning and improvement in the right areas could make a huge difference, with Celtic having the potential to make their mark even at the elite level.

“I think that there’s a lot of players out there that showed that they can play at this level, that they belonged,” he said.

“Again, it’s the Champions League. We’re not expecting to come out here and and waltz it and, you know, enjoy 70% of the ball, just chance after chance. We know it’s going to be difficult.

“It’s the fine margins. So we just need to get a little more ruthless in both boxes. I think it comes down to that just defending our boxes, defending set pieces and just being a little more clinical. And I think if we add just that element in both boxes, I think we can be a really top team.

“Because I think we showed, you know, in the middle third that we can play with these teams.

“That’s an important thing for us.”

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