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Arrivederci Foro Mussolini

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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. *** CQN PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2019-20 ***

     

    RESULTS FROM GAME #15 – LAZIO 1 CELTIC 2 (FORREST, NTCHAM)

     

    Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, we only go and win in Rome. An unbelievable result which came about via a team whose performance started poorly, slowly worked our way back in and then, boom, Wee Jamesie scores and from then on it was just outstanding. And 7 years to the day that we beat Barcelona 2-1. Magical things happen around our club.

     

    Like most of you who voted, it was very difficult to select our 3 players most deserving of our votes. I’m just relieved that 2 other contributors thought, like me, that Ajer was deserving of a mention.

     

    So many folk mentioned in their emails that, as well as their 3 picks, another couple of players came close and many included Elhamed in that category. So I’m astonished to have to announce that he was the only one of our starting heroes who ended up will nil points. Clearly ‘no points’ should not equate with ‘played poorly’.

     

    As well as all the votes that were sent for the players, thanks too to those who included some or all of – Neil Lennon, Neil Frances Lennon and his magnificent backroom staff, The magnificent Celtic away support and Peter Lawwell – in their emails.

     

    Right, enough waffle – thank you to the 61 who voted. The votes for the 14 who took to the field are as follows (my own choices are asterisked) –

     

    Forster: 38

     

    Forrest*: 18

     

    Elhamed: 0

     

    Jullien: 17

     

    Ajer*: 3

     

    Hayes: 8

     

    Brown: 25

     

    McGregor: 13

     

    Christie: 8

     

    Elyounoussi: 34

     

    Edouard*: 12

     

    Ntcham: 5

     

    Bitton: 0

     

    Bauer: 0

     

    Unused subs – Gordon, Taylor, Sinclair, Morgan

     

    So, the players receiving points for the Lazio game are –

     

    Forster – 5 points

     

    Elyounoussi – 4 points

     

    Brown – 3 points

     

    Forrest – 2 points

     

    Jullien – 1 point

     

     

    This means that the aggregate total points are now as follows –

     

    Brown – 30 points

     

    Edouard – 29 points

     

    Forrest – 23 points

     

    Christie – 22 points

     

    Elyounoussi – 22 points

     

    Jullien – 18 points

     

    McGregor – 14 points

     

    Bolingoli-Mbombo – 13 points

     

    Frimpong – 13 points

     

    Bauer – 11 points

     

    Forster – 9 points

     

    Elhamed – 8 points

     

    Ntcham – 5 points

     

    Ajer – 3 points

     

    Bitton – 3 points

     

    Bayo – 3 points

     

    Taylor – 3 points

     

    Hayes – 2 points

     

    Rogic – 1 point

     

    Next game is Sunday afternoon when we entertain Motherwell. And voting will be open from the final whistle until 10pm on Monday evening.

     

    Finally, a wee announcement. Rather than publish apologies when there’s a delay in me collating the result, going forward I’ll just be as early as I can. Usually this should be around 10.30pm but no guarantees – just keep pressing that F5 button!

     

    Hail Hail

  2. Fantastic Celtic in Rome.

     

     

    Lazio were Desperate to get a win.

     

     

    The Celtic Fitness levels and Desire let Celtic Win.

     

     

    Incredible.

     

     

    ernie is right about efter the High games, Lenny is what age now?

  3. Bada Bing – like you, I was dumbfounded that he didn’t get a single vote. However, as none of us had him in our own top 3 we can’t really complain at the outcome. Maybe a lot of us were guessing that he’d get plenty of votes from elsewhere!

  4. Motherwell have another young midfielder

     

    I hope we are watching

     

    Blessed are the cheesemakers

  5. LAZIO – THE COMBINED POINTS

     

    Just out of interest, looking at our 2 games against Lazio the top 5 players based on combined votes from both games were –

     

    Fraser (83) – who wins by a mile!

     

    Jullien (66)

     

    Christie (55)

     

    Brown (53)

     

    Elyounoussi (34)

  6. Two out of the top 3 selected ain’t bad

     

     

    Cheers for the effort Jobo, post results whenever, it’s your ball, so your rules :-)

  7. GTFB

     

    was with my Well season ticket holding friend tonight and he could not remember his name but told us one for us.

     

    He knows football better than me

     

    night

  8. El Hammed was by far our best defender last night, he was probably the man of the match, he was my motm.

     

    Not a single vote shows how much some supporters actually know about the game of football.

     

    It’s all about opinions.

  9. Ernie,

     

     

    Neil will sort out that flaw.

     

     

    It is Great to see the Cracking posters posting again on CQN – You dinnae huv to.

  10. Petec 10.18pm

     

     

    Think you would be better blaming the Italian government or football authorities for letting these Lazio ultras harass and attack folk since they started around 40yrs ago.

     

     

    Regardless of any banner. It’s what they do and have done for ages.

     

     

    HH

  11. Whitedoghunch 11.17pm

     

     

    No bother, I was just guessing .. need to be good to get into our squad but am pretty sure Neil will be looking at all the best young Scottish talent, even though Lennoxtown “should” produce the best sometimes young players flourish without the pressure and actually playing 50/60/100 games under pressure is far better than all the best facilities in the country

  12. Father Jack on 8th November 2019 11:18 pm

     

     

    El Hammed was by far our best defender last night, he was probably the man of the match, he was my motm.

     

    Not a single vote shows how much some supporters actually know about the game of football.

     

    It’s all about opinions.

     

     

    ……………………………

     

     

    ye have an Idea, impossibl3 trio – Remarkable. p67, wee Jamesie (incredible} he wisnae there.

     

     

     

    Brave Brave UNDAUNTED………………………..

  13. Father Jack 11.18pm

     

     

    Fair play with El Hamed, if he was playing right back in a four I don’t think Immobile scores … out of interest who would have been your 2nd & 3rd if you had voted … again I don’t disagree with El Hamed pick … it’s magic when there are loads of different views on our best 1, 2 or 3 of the match

  14. Jobo. Petec.GFTB

     

    Point taken, been offline for a while.

     

    You have lost me

     

    Not an easy choice, Eddy then Jullien if a gun was pointing at my head, but the rest were running them all very close, not a single passenger last night and it’s been a long time since I have seen a Celtic team that good when every single one played their part, hopefully this is the start of things to come.

  15. Petec 11.39pm

     

     

    Wee Jamesy shone under BR, added goals and was very rarely not available for selection, through injury and form, Neil gave James his debut when he looked about 10, Neil coming back has just added to Jamesy F’s confidence as he knows the manager is 100% behind him… a poster earlier pointed out when he got the ball the Lazio right side tightened up… very good defenders don’t like James F running at them

  16. Father Jack 11.48pm

     

     

    it’s great when it’s difficult to pick who was better than who, my first choice was Julien then nobody hardly mentioned him and I thought maybe I was watching a different game (or maybe it was me who didn’t know what I was watching) :-)

  17. At Night you haer Zabs roar, there is nae denying that Strakos….. is a Quality Euro Goalkeper.

     

     

    Incredible Celtic doing whit they did

  18. Scroll on if not interested.

     

     

    Asked my dad to come and watch the game in my house. Not crossed my threshold in 2 years since his stroke. Physically fine – for a 90 year old but cursed with aphasia and deafness. All invites refused to date

     

     

    He said “Yes!”

     

     

    Shocked, I agreed to pick him up.

     

     

    Knew he’d not be ready so taped the game (taped for the young uns is recorded).

     

    Radio off in car so as not to pick up news of game. Realised as I was getting him out passenger seat that he had never witnessed a Celtic victory in Europe in my house. The word ‘jinx’ sprang to mind. Nearly took him straight back!

     

     

    When he came in the house he realised that it had been some time since his last visit. I nearly used the jinx word but refrained.

     

     

    Seven minutes into the game I was already regretting inviting him lol

     

     

    As the Jamesie goal went in we screamed the house down, he said, eventually “We can win this!”

     

     

    In two years I hadn’t seen this fervour/joy in him. It was magical

     

     

    He couldn’t hear my or the TV commentary during the game due to being deaf as a post, but by God was he drinking in every effort.

     

     

    Needless to say when Ollie chipped in the winner it was bedlam. Tears and cheers and hi-fives. He was truly happy.

     

     

    So thank you Celtic for that, I got my dad back for the night. It brought us closer than any therapy known to man

     

     

    We are Celtic.

  19. Brilliant result last night ! ( sorry for the Celtic post Gerrard! ! Anyway anyone seen hun hun ! Halfwits are wanting £30 mill plus sell on fee for Glazier eyes 😂! PETEC, hope you DD are good my cyber friends 👫

  20. JimTheTim53 12.00am

     

     

    All good Jim, Neil is surprising us all, the football is both nervy and magical. I think that’s 12 games in Europe and Neil has 9 wins, 2 draws and the Cluj defeat that was a downer for us all… although with my glass always half full maybe a blessing in disguise :-)

     

     

    Art of War ?? Don’t believe a word, it’s not his Da that’s the jinx it’s him .. and by the way “shocked I agreed to pick him up” should actually read … awe ffs I didn’t expect that :-)

  21. arART OF WAR ! everybody will be interested in that comment! Majic , wish I had my ol! Man around to share that HH

  22. Art of War – lovely wee story to end my evening.

     

    Sleep tight everyone – 2 more sleeps then we go again!

  23. In case AoW falls asleep my comment at 12.07am was the same as I said to him earlier today when he told me that wee tale… Hail Hail

     

     

    He was always claiming he predicted 1-2 for Celtic although he backed 1-1

     

     

    You canny kid a kidder :-)

  24. Weebabbity, soon as I posted that I realised dudes would be missing their old man.

     

     

    It just turned out so well I had to post. Slainte.

     

     

    Gerry, the only thing that was jinxed was my 1-1