Arrivederci Foro Mussolini


This time yesterday, I was full of “Night without usual expectations for Celtic” chat.  Nothing in my years watching Celtic told me we were going to win on our Roman Holiday.  The opening 10 minutes did nothing to change this view.  Lazio scored within 7 minutes and within 8, they were back in possession inside the Celtic box.

The home side needed to win and were prepared to throw men forward in the opening period, which unsettled Celtic.  When Celtic were eventually able to get their passing game going, Lazio adopted a more conventional formation.  Had they continued to throw runners into our box, the outcome could have been different.

So many times after European games you and I have discussed the importance of mistakes in determining the outcome.  Commanding possession is all fine and well, but the team who makes fewest defensive mistakes are more often likely to win.

On 38 minutes Mohamed Elyounoussi lost, but then won back, possession, as Lazio failed to clear their lines.  His pass to James Forrest was too crisp to be intercepted, but James’ defensive marker took himself out of play by vainly attempting to steal the ball.  From that moment, the goal was inevitable.

James scored a similar and equally important goal in Champions League qualification in Rosenborg two years ago.  His shot inside the keepers unprotected far post was thunderous.  Celtic had a foothold in the game which would ask big questions of the team currently in a Champions League qualification spot in Serie A.

My heart was in my mouth only once, when the referee rushed towards Scott Brown while taking a card out his pocket, but the colour was yellow and Scott would remain on the pitch to complete a gladiatorial performance.

Lazio needed to win to give them a realistic chance of qualification and the closing 10 minutes of regulation time saw them again flood into the Celtic box.  Fraser Forster, who two weeks ago produced a Save of the Ages, this time produced three fine stops which would have beaten a lesser keeper.

The more Lazio pushed for a winner, the more space Odsonne Edouard was able to exploit.  The French striker was isolated for much of the two games against Lazio, but whenever Celtic cleared long, he caused the defence problems.  Set free by the impressive Elyounoussi, he had the best chance of the game, but pushed his shot wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.

Edouard had one more decisive action to come.  A careless pass, which should have gone across the Lazio back line, was intercepted by Odsonne, who had Forrest and substitute Olivier Ntcham in support.  Edouard drew the defenders before slipping the ball to Ntcham.

Think back to Blackburn 2002.  That through ball for Larsson, who drew the keeper and deftly chipped the ball into the net.  17 years later Ntcham did the same in the most impressive cameo since Hitchcock folded his canvass chair for the last time.  The Romans were in ruins.

Let’s be clear about the magnitude of this win. Lazio are currently strutting through Serie A and played their strongest team last night.  They have not lost at the Stadio Olimpico in all competitions in over six months.  Six months!  The former Olympic stadium is part of the Foro Italico complex, originally known as the Foro Mussolini (Mussolini’s Forum).  The old fascist’s structure was turned upside down last night.

This is a very good Celtic team, perhaps the best we have seen since 2012.

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  1. Siempre Celtic (formerly Traditionalist88) on

    Make no mistake about it, after a few years of watching our proud European home record take a bit of a nosedive, we are a threat to anyone again. Teams will have to play VERY well to beat us.



    And that is down to the tactics and organisational skills of Neil Lennon.



    Yes sports science is extremely important and vital in many respects but football is a fundamentally simple game and while it has evolved over the years, it hasn’t changed as much as many would say.



    I think Lenny strikes the balance perfectly.



    Us trying to reivent the wheel tactically was never going to work and the ridiculous overpassing in Europe cost us some more victories over the last 3 years and contributed to a couple of poundings away from home. Rodgers gave us great times domestically but was an idealist and had no plan B.



    Ultimately Europe is where we need to be showcasing our club and players and right now we are giving ourselves a fighting chance every time we go out on the pitch.



    Well done Lenny! The skys the limit.




  2. I said before the game, I would have played Taylor instead of Hayes……Jonny had his best game in a Celtic jersey,2nd half he started so many attacks, a famous victory last night.

  3. Point of order



    “who had Forrest and substitute Olivier Ntcham in support. “…Suoer Mo i think you will find.

  4. Good stuff Paul, had the same thought when the ref reached for the card for Broony. It didn’t look so bad on the replay.



    Just an outstanding display from the team last night. Hard to single out individuals but I will say Noussi had a stormer. He never stopped working and has real class. He read the situation perfectly to win the ball back to set up James and he then made the decoy run in 95th minute to create space for Oli. I noticed he didn’t have the energy left to run over to join in the celebrations. He was completely exhausted. Hayes was tested defensively, but he’s another incredibly fit player. He ran 60 yds in minute 95 as well to add an option for Odsonne. Ryan Christie, He’s going to be one of the best midfielders in the world. Odsonne is a talisman. I pray he doesn’t get injured. Julienne had his best game in a Celtic shirt and big Kris was right there with him for 95 minutes.



    Many of the Lazio players were out on their feet at the end. They were run ragged by our Bhoys. I’ve thought for many years that we always looked off the pace in Europe but no longer. This is a fit, fast team. So pleased for Lenny at the end. I think he’s going to do ok in the job.

  5. Olivier Ntcham….



    What an effin player.



    Clearly, as per the latest MSM fanboys, not as good as Ryan ‘the crab’ Jack..



    But what the hell do we care…

  6. Paul 67,



    I can’t help think about the similarities with the Seville season. As much as I enjoyed the journey I hope the outcomes this season are more favourable.



    For sheer enjoyment watching Celtic, last night was up there with the best.




  7. Great to read the differing opinions on here on who our star players were. Whether you’re a poster or a lurker, please make your opinions count – 3 names to cqnpoty@gmail.com . I’ll start totting up the scores at tea time but I do see that there are 42 emails already in that inbox. Which is nice.


    And if my gorgeous big brother in law is lurking around – time to join the party, Big Leggy!!

  8. Looks like I’ll be in Dusseldorf for the cup final, any of the German tims recommend a place to watch the game?

  9. Ironic that Neil Lennon achieved another landmark victory for Celtic on the anniversary of the day his first Celtic side beat Barcelona almost as if to underline that we made the sensible choice in his appointment last summer, after his predecessor, jumped ship.



    Tippy tappy one million passes days are gone, defence is rebuilt, midfield intact, fitter than a Serie a legend, or a butcher’s dug, remarkable that Celtic have pulled off transfer masterstrokes in El Hamed, Frimpong, Forster and El Younoussi,



    Top of the SPL, top of the Europa, safely through to the first domestic cup final



    Take a bow Mr Lennon, if he wasn’t your personal choice last summer, enjoy your humble pie.



    Hail Hail

  10. The team has generally looked very sluggish in Europe against the better teams – sometimes they seemed to have zero pace in the late MON era.



    However, now, lack of conditioning is not something to worry about.

  11. It’s going to be really hard to settle on the top 3. I’m doing it in reverse.. I’ve eliminated the 3 subs and the very impressive Elhamed & Ajer but there are still 9 in the running. I’m thinking Forster, Elyounoussi & Brown. But wouldn’t argue with Hayes, Julien & CalMac. Equally there is a lot to recommend in Christie, Forrest & Edouard. I’might getting second thoughts about my eliminations Elhamed? Ajer & N’tcham all did brilliantly.

  12. The performance and result was monumental for the bhoys. Absolutely tremendous, and as Paul points out, against a side who have conquered all visiting sides in the last 6 months.



    My only word of caution, is lets not fall flat come Sunday.



    In fact, lets ride the crest of the wave and give Motherwell a comprehensive doo’in.



    Is there scope to start Ntcham ? Of course there is. Who needs a rest, Callum, Broony ? One things for sure, we will need energy through the core of the side.

  13. International break brings another 2 games for Eddie in 4 days….



    Fingers remain very much crossed.

  14. What is the Stars on

    Will the slump ever end



    No..Not while that failed bean counter Lawwell runs the show


    Once again he took the cheap option and appointed a clueless yes man like Lennon ( failed abysmally at Hibs and Bolton)


    Why wouldnt he push the boat out and pay for a proper coach ….because he is an evil penny pinching ,forelock tugging,back of the bus sitting ,old firm bigot buck loving failed bean counter



    I fear for the soul of our once great club….

  15. A lot of posters were harshly critical of the Board for appointing Neil in the first place. Well they must be eating their words as the Team is playing attractive attacking football. Achieving results in Europe with fine performances.



    Brendan Rodgers team would not have won this game. Neil Lennons pragmatic approach works better than Rodgers possession game. Lennon is the better Celtic Manager

  16. Pogmathonyahun aka Laird of the Smiles on 8th November 2019 1:56 pm



    Cheers mate much appreciated. Now I may have tickets for a Leverkusen match on that day could you help with somewhere there also?

  17. glendalystonsils on

    I’m going to start an alternative CQN poty after last night .



    Please send in your 14 picks from last night (subs included)

  18. Afternoon folks,



    Well here we are the next day and the smile is still on my face and the feeling of elation still there. My MOTM was Elyounoussi, closely followed by Hayes. Thought that was Jonny’s finest game in a Celtic jersey, and playing out of position. The amount of grass he covered was sensational and he was still charging up the park at the latter stages of the game. Some engine for a 32 year old.



    However Mohamed’s display edged it for me. Although not blessed with lightning pace, his link up play, intelligent football brain and skill made him my MOTM. But really all the players, manager and coaching staff and not least of all the fans were the real men of the match.



    HH DAN

  19. Hunderbirds are Gone on

    View from a dodgy stream…


    Firstly, what an absolutely thrilling game of football. Credit goes to both teams, the referee and his assistants. Credit to our fantastic away support too. Great backing for the team, and it must help the players to perform at their highest level, and to just give that few important percentage points more effort, in the tackle, in running with the ball and in running back to close down space when out of possession . That few percentage points more effort, can often be the difference between success and failure at this level.


    Fraser Forster had a few shaky moments, and for a guy of his height, I think he should be doing better when collecting crosses. Again though, after his heroics in the game at Celtic Park, he made some crucial stops, at key moments in the game. I liked Craig Gordon as a keeper, but Forster is definitely the better of the two, and his marquee stops, inject confidence in our outfield players, and at the same time, put doubt in our opponents minds, that they can win the game when he is between the sticks. He might just be the most important player that Neil has brought to the club this year. I worried about our ability to adequately replace Mikel Lustig in the team. The Swede brought so much to the team in terms of ability, experience and leadership. However Elhamed has been an absolutely wonderful replacement for our favourite Copper. Afraid of nothing, he gives us a more solid look down our right side. He is powerful, fairly quick, brave and leads by example.


    The Central pairing of Ajer and Jullien, continues to improve, with a slice of luck (needed to win this type of game), they dealt well with Lazio’s threat. Wee Jonny the Dub? Well you know what you will get. Total commitment and a willingness to always be available to receive a pass. He still has a good turn of pace, and can cross the ball well. Bolingolli and Taylor, may play more often than him, but it is priceless to have such a competitor in reserve.


    The Midfield were fantastic last night. Our Captain continues to find high level performances. He is invaluable in games like last night. He has seen it all, and knows what is required to get results against any level of opponent. He cajoles and shepherds our young players brilliantly. He is such an important player to us, and is going to be impossible to replace. Oh, that he was 25 again. Christie again displayed his wild dog like stamina, he just runs and runs and runs, and eventually brings his target down. Great vision, a goal threat and a bit of dig. Last night he delivered in truckloads, and that level of performance is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. New contract please Peter. He is the type of player all teams would like to have. He and his family are Celts, so let’s padlock him to Celtic Park. Calmac, imo, is beginning to get back to his best, and played very well in both games against Lazio. His quick control and accurate passing, are the catalyst for a lot of our best passages of play. Calum looked very good last night, even against such top level performers. His form for the last six months or so, has been patchy, but I think he is getting his mojo back.


    The forwards? All three were great, especially Jamesie and Eddie. Anyone who can’t see what an excellent player James is for us, must have very poor eyesight. You could see the left side of the Lazio Defence stiffen every time he took possession. The finish for our equaliser was exquisite. He also took a leaf out of Christie’s book last night, and covered so much ground both offensively and defensively. I really hope that Eddie somehow decides to stay with us after next summer. There will be interest in him, that is for sure. He also has the Christie running bug and covers some ground. Some of his touches were fantastic, and one turn on the left touchline was breathtaking. Deserved a goal, but missing doesn’t seem to bother him. A character trait I haven’t seen since Henrik graced the Hoops. Set up N’tcham for the winner with a perfect pass. Elyounoussi has a great touch, and great vision. I thought he was a bit quiet last night, but made a telling contribution in the lead up to our equaliser.


    The Subs? N’tcham the stand out obviously, but, and this is an important factor in our good run this year imo, all three subs slotted in to the team seamlessly. We have replacement players in the squad, who are just as good as the starting Eleven. This squad has a brilliant mentality, that has not always been the case in the last ten years.


    What a night. What a performance. What a team. Well done Lenny.