Celtic 2-0 Partick Thistle: Deila praises Johansen impact
Celtic boss Ronny Deila believes Stefan Johansen is getting better all the time following the midfielder's eye-catching display against Partick Thistle.
Given the captaincy for the first time, the Norwegian capped a fine performance with the second goal in a 2-0 win at Celtic Park.
"He did a good job," said Deila. "He's always working hard for his team-mates and he deserved to be captain.
"He's had a good season all along but he's stepping up all the time."
Johansen was full of running and inventive play as the hosts dominated for long spells.
And Celtic's task was made easier when James Craigen was sent off for a lunging tackle on Stuart Armstrong, with Kris Commons tucking away the resulting penalty.
Johansen then found the bottom corner with a neat, low strike on 63 minutes.
"He's very fit," added Deila. "You see at the end of games, he gets more and more chances because he keeps going when others are tired.
"His technical ability is improving as well.
"We have conceded 14 [league] goals and, of course, the defence and goalkeeper have been very good, but he is one of the causes as well because he works so hard for the team, together with Scott Brown and Nir Bitton - and that makes it very solid.
"So he is good offensively and defensively."
Johansen was player of the year in his final season in his native Norway and the dynamic midfielder is sure to be a leading contender for the Scottish award.
However, Deila would not be drawn on who he thinks should take the top prize.
"It's hard for me to pick," he said. "Lots of Celtic players are performing well."
Deila also baulked at questions on the potential worth of Johansen, stressing that he wants to keep all of his best performers.
"I don't want to think in terms of money, I want to build the team around those players," he explained.
"They can be better, they can improve if we keep them here and develop them and fight hard to get on to the European stage."
Celtic remain seven points clear with a game in hand over nearest challengers Aberdeen but Deila would like to have seen a few more goals from his team.
"I'm satisfied with the performance," he added. "In the first 10 minutes, we should have scored one or two.
"We should be more effective, We had a lot of chances."
Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald had no complaints over the penalty or sending off that made a tough task near impossible.
"I thought it was a penalty at the time," he said. "It's one of those when you're penalised double, losing the goal and the man.
"With hindsight, you'd rather he let him score or let Scott Fox try and save it but in the heat of the moment you always think you'll get there.
"It's hard to come here with 11 men and I was proud of the way the lads organised themselves. The shape was good - it has been for the last three or four weeks.
"It's just disappointing because I thought we'd done the hard bit, getting through the first 10-15 minutes."
Thistle host Motherwell on Saturday, with the Fir Park side just four points behind in the relegation play-off place after an excellent run of results.
"We've never really been away from it - we dropped two points at Aberdeen and we're right back in it," added Archibald.
"We went on a good run but so have the other teams. Hats off to them but we're looking forward to the game.
"Our discipline was good tonight and we created chances so there are a lot of positives to take."