ANGE POSTECOGLOU got off the worst possible start to his career as Celtic manager when he saw the team crash to defeat in his first-ever Premiership game.
The Parkhead side had just toppled at the first hurdle in the Champions League qualifiers when they went out on a 3-2 aggregate loss to the Danes of FC Midtjylland when they travelled to Tynecastle to face Hearts.
Postecoglou had just been named as Neil Lennon’s successor the previous month as he attempted to put together a squad that could emerge from the carnage of a wretched season.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…new boss Ange Postecoglou can hardly watch as Celtic play at Tynecastle on his league debut on July 31 2021.
Carl Starfelt, who had arrived at Lennoxtown just two days earlier following his £4.2million switch from Rubin Kazan, was hurriedly thrust into the defence after 18-year-old Dane Murray had played in both Euro ties, the rookie coming on as a first-half substitute in the 1-1 draw after Nir Bitton’s red card.
Kyogo Furuhashi had landed in Scotland only hours before kick-off in the capital but the unknown Japanese striker also made an appearance as a 79th substitute for Liel Abada, who has joined earlier in the month.
It was a disjointed line-up, but they were still one minute away from gaining a point against Robbie Neilson’s team. Ex-Celt Gary Mackay-Steven had capitalised on some horrendous defending to put the home side ahead, but that had been wiped out following a remarkable solo goal from Anthony Ralston.
Abada had what looked like a good goal wiped out on the hour mark after some dodgy refereeing by Bobby Madden. Welcome to Scotland, Big Ange!
GRIM…Ange Postecoglou is welcomed to the Premiership against Hearts in Edinburgh.
Another equally questionable decision from the whistler gifted the hosts a free-kick on the left wing in the 89th minute. It looked as though Ismaila Soro had been fouled, but the match official, inexplicably, gave the award to a grateful home side.
Michael Smith swung the deadball into the box and a Hearts player was allowed to rise unchallenged to bullet a header high past Scott Bain.
There was no way back for Postecoglou or his players as they had to accept a loss on the first day of league business.
The opponent who put the ball in the Hoops net was John Souttar.
The same John Souttar whose slack passback was seized upon by Filipe Jota at Parkhead on Saturday that saw the Portuguese winger waltz round the stranded Allan McGregor to roll the third and winning goal into the Ibrox side’s net.
OOPS…John Souttar’s passback is mishit.
THE RACE IS ON…Souttar can only look on as Filipe Jota and Allan McGregor chase for the ball. Note the intelligence of Kyogo Furuhashi as he runs into a wide position in anticipation of the keeper getting in a clearance to James Tavernie (out of pic on right).
SEE YOU LATER…Jota rounds the keeper with Souttar still helplessly watching.
WHOOPS…Jota turns away in triumph as despair descends upon McGregor and Souttar.
It took 68 games spread over two seasons, but the Greek-Australian turned the tables in a match that saw his champions race 12 points clear towards the inevitable second successive crown.
The CQN match reporter at Tynecastle on July 31 2021 was obviously in a positive frame of mind at the end of Postecoglou’s maiden voyage into the choppy Premiership seas.
He pointed out: The last time the Hoops lost in a league opener was at Easter Road at the start of the 1997/98 season when Hibs beat Wim Jansen’s team 2-1. Celtic still won the title that term.