A few nits to pick but lots went right for Celtic


Lots went right last night, with only a few nits to pick.

Compare and contrast the key area of the field – central mid – with the game away in Malmo. With Bitton and Brown in their usual roles, Stefan Johansen dropped off his common (or Commons, if you like) position behind the striker to give us a central midfield three. As a result, everything clicked. Ajax were unable to pass through us, while central defence looked protected.

Again, Bitton was our main man. Always looking for a pass, always comfortable in possession, no matter how many opponents were in close proximity.  He even managed a Paul McStay-esque (that’s where you recognised it from) pass 40 yards ahead of Johansen in the second half. Brown and Johansen ran like clockwork alongside him and we looked like a team!

You’ll also have recognised the corner which led to Mikael Lustig’s goal. It was a carbon copy of Kris Commons’ effort, minutes from the end of the Qarabag game, and minutes after he came on as a substitute, which brought the only goal of that tie. It was drilled directly with the top of the foot, a very unusual and difficult delivery but one which, if executed well, is very dangerous.  Commons also got an assist for the first goal, an even more impressive piece of footwork before placing an inch-perfect pass between two Ajax defenders. Bitton’s controlled shot was sublime (I’ll avoid calling it Wakaso-esque, no need to jinx the lad).

I thought both full backs played well, until Izaguirre’s second yellow, of course. Izzie and Lustig were both booked for throwing themselves into challenges. It wasn’t a game for holding back to see what will happen next, so I’ve sympathy for the initial yellows, but Izzie had a game-intelligence bypass. His second yellow came a minute after another robust foul. The red was inevitable. It probably cost us the win.  The player is fighting for his place, and next contract, right now.  The pain on his face as he left the field was real, but he needs this pressure.  The lack of competition hasn’t been good for him in recent years.  Don’t write him off yet.

One frustration I had was that we didn’t get James Forrest on the ball often enough. James has the weapon of pace in his boots but we didn’t once manage to exploit it. Perhaps as a consequence Leigh Griffiths had a frustrating night with little to feast on. I’d have changed James role or replaced him earlier.

And what about Efe? Why he decided to take a man on, 20 yards from his own goal, a moment after coming on, only Efe will know, but thereafter he was the most influential player in securing the point. When Janko came on Efe pulled tight into a role as a defacto central defender.  He took responsibility and helped what was by then a relatively inexperienced defence.

When my youngest heard that Jozo Simunovic was making his debut there was a sharp intake of breath. “But what if he makes a mistake? All we’ll know about him is he’s made a mistake in a huge game.” Jozo looked the part, covered ground efficiently. It was a good start.

So what went wrong? Lustig went to ground on the wing, didn’t get the ball and left 20 yards of space open behind him. This drew Celtic defenders out of position to cover, which Ajax exploited excellently to score their first goal. They opened us up once more like this shortly thereafter, but that apart, they didn’t lay a glove on us until we were down to 10 men.

I’m pretty angry at the second Ajax goal. It was another cross into the six yard box we failed to attack. Dedryck Boyata ran between the two Ajax attackers in attendance, but seemed to be distracted by their runs. No one attacked the ball.  Get your starting position right and attack the ball – that’s the rule on set-pieces. We’re not following it.

And for the record, Craig Gordon was faultless for this one. A keeper has to stay on his line when a cross flies over attackers and defenders alike.  Whatever lies behind our recent frailties at defending cross balls, I suspect it’s not gone away.

The margins between success and failure in this group are shaping up to be thin. Ajax could have snatched three points at the end, we would have won the game if Izzie had stayed on the field. I’m not sure how I feel about Molde winning in Istanbul. A group with two difficult competitors now looks like a group with no easy games.  The group’s top seeds and the early favourites are both licking wounds this morning.

So let’s win it.

One big benefit from last night is that we can look forward to Sunday’s important game with a bit of enthusiasm.  The good people at Magners have again offered us two Premium Seats in the Jock Stein Stand for Sunday.  To win them, all you need to do is answer the following question:

Who do Celtic play on Sunday?

Email me, with your answer in the subject field, at celticquicknews@gmail.com

The competition closes at 2pm today, so there’s not much time and likely to be little competition.  And while you’re at it, how about donating a £1 to our Mary’s Meals, Malawi school kitchen appeal?  It takes moments to get involved here.

Thank you.

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  1. Paul67



    More or less, what you are saying, I was saying 10 minutes ago, and got attacked for doing so.


    Check it out yourself.


    I’m getting it…for giving an opinion.


    Sad day when you cant give an honest opinion on CQN




    Hail Hail

  2. Good analysis, Paul – agree with most of it, especially on how the midfield seemed to click better.



    To me, it looked 4-3-3/4-5-1, more the latter than the former, which was a pity, as although the 4-5-1 was necessary to defend the wings, I would have like to see more interlinking play among Commons, Griffiths and Forrest. Lee looked stranded for most of the game.



    There was one example in the 1st half – an opportunistic throw-in from Izzy near the corner flag allowed Forrest to run along the line, play a cut-back for Griffiths’ weak first-time shot to go out for a corner. It was simple play, really, but hinted at what might have been and what still could come from this formation

  3. The starting position of our defensive line for the free kick that led to their second goal was too deep. If they push up, even five yards, then the keeper has better sight of the ball and more time to react.

  4. THE GREEN MAN on 18TH SEPTEMBER 2015 10:03 AM









    So…its “they”….and “them” now is it.





    You really are a trumpet.





    A loud mouth halfwit….and that’s me being nice.





    You really want to demonize me….go ahead





    You are pathetic



    – See more at: http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/ajax-v-celtic-live-updates-2/comment-page-25/#comment-2680761




  5. Paul,



    Good analysis.



    The only thing I would say is the times wee James did get the ball I think the opposing full back (Tette?) had the pace to deal with him.



    Maybe coulda switched him. Maybe not.



    It’s hard to get too upset at a result I’d have taken before the game. :)



    Happy Friday. HH

  6. TD67



    You can flag up every post I make…water off a ducks back.


    There is nothing you can do to silence me…nothing.


    You dish it out, I will give you it right back.


    Just scroll by, it would be much easier.

  7. Paul67,



    Good summation, I wouldn’t be too hard on the defence, they’ll take time to gel – and you know after Izzy went off they looked like a bunch of bhoys that didn’t want to concede.



    …So let’s win it






    Hail Hail

  8. Don’t disagree with much there P67.



    Although I do believe CG was flapping at 2nd goal having moved away from his near perfect starting position which would have had him easily accept the ball in his mittens.



    MWD said AYE

  9. TD67



    I don’t need to be positive…do you get it.


    I have my own thoughts, unlike you, who takes the PLC line on everything….if they told you to jump off the roof of Celtic Park, you be only to happy to comply.


    You wont bully me…you aren’t capable.


    So do everybody a favour…and scroll by my posts.

  10. I’m not even attempting to silence you, no no no, I’m just pointing out your never ending repetitive Groundhog Day posts, then again you haven’t mentioned PL or the board yet today, of that I am thankful, and doff my cap to you, no no, by all means post as much as you lik.


    But as I’ve told you how it works in here if some one has a different opinion, then they will post it, so don’t get upset and flatter yourself that it’s all about you, oh no, we all like to post, and have a difference of opinion, unless it’s a Hun of course.


    Lurking Huns GIRFUYs.

  11. MoonbeamsWD on 18th September 2015 10:24 am



    Don’t disagree with much there P67.



    Although I do believe CG was flapping at 2nd goal having moved away from his near perfect starting position which would have had him easily accept the ball in his mittens.




    The keeper has 2 options on those types of crosses stay on your line hoping if it gets headed near post you can save it, or come out to try and catch/punch at it’s highest point. CG did neither, came half way then stopped.



    Id have still liked to have seen a defender drop to the back post at the last second.

  12. And without being critical


    I do think Gordon was poor at the 2nd goal, as was Efe, watch those clips from Lionroars, Efe should have been at back post, ( it should have actually been Blackett, but he was central following someone ?) but was Efe, he let an Ajax player run past him and was static as the ball went into the huge empty space and into the net


    Poor defensively from us, and Must be worked on


    Was actually similar to Aberdeen goal as player came past a static Brown in that game to score



    Still 2 – 2 was a very decent start for our EL campaign, Scotland’s only representatives in Europe, I’m sure the Scottish media will be behind us :-)



    Hail Hail

  13. TD67



    That is kind of you to allow me to post.


    I mean really, just who the feck do you think you are?


    Am I supposed to be intimidated.


    Ooh I better be quiet.


    Listen..i say again…do yourself a favour, scroll on by.

  14. Geordie Munro …………..that guy Tette must be the fastest fullback I’ve seen on two legs. Just as well he was aware he had to deal with a player like James of equal pace and could not afford to let him out of his sight which was good for us.

  15. Numerous posters saying…1: Izzy was foolish getting sent off, we would have won


    2: CG/ Defence were poor at Ajax 2nd goal.



    Now…why am I being singled out for saying the same thing.

  16. THE GREEN MAN on 18TH SEPTEMBER 2015 10:20 AM









    You can flag up every post I make…water off a ducks back.





    There is nothing you can do to silence me…nothing.





    You dish it out, I will give you it right back.





    Just scroll by, it would be much easier.



    – See more at: http://www.celticquicknews.co.uk/a-few-nits-to-pick-but-lots-went-right-for-celtic/#sthash.cpuPqAFC.dpuf





    You see there’s that spin again, I’m not saying you can’t post, your saying it, post away to you little hearts content.

  17. glendalystonsils on

    Pleased with last night’s result and performance although you always feel a wee bit of ‘what might have been’ having twice been in the lead. Finishing the game with 11 men might also have just made the difference, but not complaining.


    What pleased me even more than the football though was the Dutch authorities looking after our fans properly and not allowing the disgraceful scenes we saw last time.

  18. Hankray,



    According to wiki, ol Kenny Tete is only 19. looked a no bad player Imo.



    I wonder if he is any good with his head? (groan)







  19. Admire Paul’s enthusiastic approach – I thought it a muddling game and I’m sure Ajax will be ‘kicking themselves’ not to have won – we should not be extrapolating anything from last night



    Anyhow, so pleased we did not get defeated – got a feeling that we are in for a ‘rollercoaster’ of a season and I restate my opinion that Ronny only has till the end of the year to prove that real progress is being made.



    Last 32 qualification in the EL – nullify gap at top of league position in Scotland – progress in the League Cup. To me these are the benchmarks for Ronny in the next three months – he must not ‘drop the ball’ – no more excuses.



    I really do hope he makes it and proves the doubters, including me, wrong – however for what it’s worth, I believe we will be welcoming a new management team in January, with the remit to ‘save our season’ – well someone has to say it!!!

  20. Also, Craig Gordon wasn’t on his line when it went in. He came off his line and was doing jumping jacks.

  21. Having watched Izzy’s second yellow I’m convinced there was virtually no contact, in fact I’m convinced it was a dive.



    Is there no way of appealing the suspension based on that – if not requesting the match officials look at suspending the Ajax player? Or does that only happen in Scotland, against Celtic?

  22. TD67



    Listen, are you under some sort of weird illusion that you have some kind of control over me, and that I have to post under your discretion.


    Are you Big Brother?


    Will you be taking me to room 101?


    Who put you in charge Napoleon.


    Give it a rest.


    I don’t need your permission for anything….Do you understand?

  23. Chairbhoy



    Thanks for the reply on the previous article.



    TBH, I’m not so much as ‘glass half-empty’ guy as a ‘Who the **** stole half my pint’ :-)

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