Breakthrough win as Jozo and Dedryck take control


Last night’s historic win in Brussels feels like a breakthrough moment. It has been 16 years since we first played Champions League group stage football, but our only win on the road in that period was snatched in the final minute by a Georgios Samaras header in Moscow. This time, the victory was achieved while dominating the game from first to last, not conceding, and punishing Anderlecht’s vulnerabilities.

A word for the defence. Those who make it their business to complain about Celtic, reserved their recent venom for the decision not to move to an alternative central defensive target when Rivaldo Coetzee failed a fitness test. With our first choice defensive line-up available this week for the first time this season, we look remarkably solid. The manager will continue to give experience to Ajer, Miller and Ralston as the season progresses.

Pre-match, Dedryck Boyata played down suggestions that playing in his home town would aid his performance, but I suspected it would. The big defender, and his partner, Jozo Simunovic, were imperious. Celtic enjoyed 63% possession, much of it going through these two. Kieran Tierney and Mikael Lustig were always available for a pass, and seemed to demoralise Anderlecht’s creative talents.

The opening goal was a masterclass for the entire team, but especially so for Boyata and Simunovic, who during the build-up, made seven and five passes respectively.  Patrick Roberts and Craig Gordon were the only Celtic players not to complete a pass during the move.  You have seem great Celtic teams in Europe, but you have never seen anything like this.  That 24-pass Liam Miller goal against Lyon 14 years ago remains alive in the memory because it was so exceptional in that Celtic team.  Last night’s opener was 28 passes, was away from home, and is absolutely typical of how we now play football.

Celtic’s attacking players (rightly) attract most of the attention, but the foundation of this team is our back line. Our system of play is not possible without defenders who can receive a fast ball, pass, remain alert and calm.  If you are old enough to remember the impact the 1974 World Cup made, the final in particular, last night’s game will resonate with you.

Olivier Ntcham picked up the broken pieces of his performance in the opening 30 minutes to split the defence open for the first goal, before collecting a loose ball and feeding Scott Sinclair for the third. The manager will ponder what was going on during that opening period.  Despite the generosity of the win, the result could have been in jeopardy if one link in the chain was not performing.

Years ago I remember analysing goals in our Champions League games and noted that mistakes were overwhelmingly influential in determining the outcomes of games. Our second and third goals were down to unenforced Anderlecht errors.

At the second, the Anderlecht right back had comfortable possession and the opportunity to clear up the line, but instead elected to play a ball into the space in front of his own penalty area. At this point, the hosts were a mis-control away from presenting Celtic with a chance, which duly happened.  Scott Sinclair’s injury-time third goal came as a result of an Anderlecht pass out of defence, which rolled straight into Ntcham’s path , allowing Celtic to turnover, 4 v 2.

What followed on both occasions is the lesson every football fan knows, make a mistake at this level, and you will be punished.

Well done, Celtic. A magnificent performance and result.  The only away win to compare in the last 47 years was when we caught Ajax cold in 2001.

Celtic FC Foundation, Great Scottish Run

I’m doing the Great Scottish Run this Sunday for the Celtic FC Foundation, full of the joys of being a Celtic supporter during these great times.  We are not only about winning trophies and the Champions League, this club is as deep as the ocean.  On Sunday, it will be about the work of the Foundation, with the poorest in Glasgow and surrounding areas, in the most deprived communities of London, for those marginalised from society, and for the great work with Autism.  Not to mention the outreach in Malawi, Haiti and so many other places most of the world ignores.

I’ve never made porridge in Malawi, or fed the poor in Haiti, not would I know how to engage with Autistic kids, but you and me can do our bit for those who have the responsibility of delivering help where needed.  What I can do is run on Sunday and ask for sponsorship.  If you can help, do so at this MyDonate page.

Thank you.

The CQN Podcast: A Celtic State of Mind (EP14) Champions League Special

A Celtic State of Mind offers an insight into the culture of Celtic Football Club, the city of Glasgow, and fans of the reigning invincible Scottish champions.

Each episode includes interviews with ‘Celtic-minded’ figures from the world of sport, music, film, art, broadcasting, literature or politics.

Ahead of the crucial Champions League match against Anderlecht, ‘A Celtic State of Mind’ goes behind the Champions League curtain for Celtic’s opening match against PSG.

Kevin Graham provides pre and post-match discussion with members of his CSC, as well as in-match analysis in what will be a regular Celtic State of Mind feature.



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  1. Brilliant result and performance. I stick by what I said yesterday, the game at this level is all about fine margins and getting the rub of the green.


    I think all of us were waiting for Anderlecht to score in the first 20-25 minutes as our passing was absolutely shocking.


    It was in fact (as Paul stated) that Anderlecht were punished for mistakes. A wee bit of luck caused be great teamwork and pressure but it COULD have gone the other way.


    I think we can get a draw in Munich

  2. AULDHEID on28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 12:17 PM






    In a way this latest development is only possible because of the rising afluence of the Celtic support at large reflected in the change in the housing demography in the east end.



    The seeds planted early last century by a good education system reflecting ethical values are bearing fruit in terms of many enjoying professional careers or providing a stable platform for later generations to build from.



    For me its ethics that make Celtic unique. That of itself presents challenges in a world bereft of them, but if ethics means doing the right thing then there is never any challenge too great to fear.



    Who knows, the unethical might even wake up one day.

  3. patmcgrathtakesapenalty on

    Very nice comment from Stan Collymore



    Fantastic win. A club who’s European heritage demands standards that most can only attain through money.




  4. Apart from the opening 20 minutes, dreadful passing, that was a wonderful evening.


    Celtic -2 :-)



  5. I thought we defended resolutely when Anderlecht did put us under pressure and although there was some comment about Mikel Lustig I thought he had a very good game against a potentially dangerous opponent and kept him pretty quiet the whole game.



    I have a tiny wee gripe which I’m sure Brendan and Chris will be working on, when teams like Anderlecht are doubling and tripling up on Scotty and Paddy, our midfield need to get up to support them and offer them an out ball quicker.



    Last night is massive for us, we needed it to progress from this group and we as a support needed it to get the away monkey off our backs.



    Cornerturning CSC

  6. Paul,



    Wee Paddy pressed the Anderlecht defender into the mistake for the 2nd goal. It was a forced error.

  7. Paul67



    Glad your time zone was after the Elland Road triumph in 1970, however the wee 2-1 in Hungary against Ujpest Dosza in the 1972 Big Cup quarter final wasn’t too shabby either.



    The same could be said for the 2-1 victory in 1982 versus Ajax, no second chances there.



    I’ll not mention Anfield nor Ewood Park in 2002-3 if we’re only talking Big Cup, of course.

  8. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    A bit harsh there, Paul. The very fact that we were trying to sign Coetzee would suggest that Brendan thinks we are light in that area.


    Anyway, fantastic win. Many good performances. The first goal reminded me of Hooper’s v the dead club in 2011. Great run (and signal) from Kieran. Also good pressing from Callum for the third.


    Think it’s a bit of a stretch to say we might be pushing Bayern for second, but let’s see where we are after the two games. I’d like to see us putting in two competitive performances.

  9. When John Updike died in 2009, I looked out my collection of his Rabbit novels. I wonder if I should afford Chug the same respect??

  10. 50 shades of green on

    Last night was a bloody joy to behold, sure we looked nervous and uncomfortable in the opening stages, game for me changed when the Anderlecht player was down injured for a bit, Brendan got the Bhoys in for a chat weaved his magic and from there we started to control the game.



    I very nearly took my wee dug for a walk with 20 to go but I stuck with it, then when Broonie goes off injured the stomach butterflies turned to Molten lava.



    As far as the Champions league goes we are still a work in Progress, but i still have a big grin on my face today.



    Onwards and upwards.




  11. Paul67 et al


    So Rivaldo Coetzee “failed a fitness test” did he, aye.


    And here’s me thinking that he was injured weeks before the ‘deal’ fell through, and as it turns out the poor lhad has a congenital bone disorder. Not to mention Celtic’s last gap effort to sign the hapless Jason Denayer or the fact that it was Brendan Rodgers who had stated that a central defender was one of his priorities. Then again us critics must have imagined Bitton and Ajer as centre backs. Dedryck was injured months before season started, and Jozo was injured during the qualifiers, the qualifiers that is Paul. Glad to see both of our central defenders back playing together, and part of an historic win, but lets not take the high ground on the back of that victory, we gambled, it paid off.

  12. Didn’t see the game live last night as I was at the Nick Cave gig the Hydro. I was kept up-to-date by messages from HB Jnr and pals and watched the highlights when I got home.



    IMO last night was a coming of age for the team and management. A fantastic achievement which shows the growing belief.



    Meanwhile back in Las Vegas………

  13. BEATBHOY on 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 12:48 PM


    When John Updike died in 2009, I looked out my collection of his Rabbit novels. I wonder if I should afford Chug the same respect??


    BEATBHOY on 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 12:48 PM


    Sorry, Shug! Damned predictive text!




    Predictive text my a@@@. No even a Freudian slip. Hiding from the mods, no doubt- but it made me laugh!

  14. I don’t want to be too hard on Beverley Hills’ authorities but they should erect a statue to Hugh Hefner for services to servicing.





  15. Off topic ,but reading that Pedro has lost the dressing room with his ‘stars’.


    That is inaccurate reporting at it’s best,calling that assembled lot ‘stars’.


    Two nil on Saturday,three nil last night and permission to start building on


    the new development,have to say;









  16. Celtic Mac



    Rivaldo from Capetown was definitely the key target and level of confidence he would join the club is evidenced by training kit with his initials on it having been generated at same time as the PSG boy.



    For me there was no expectation he would fail the medical.



    But if being cynical about Brendan’s motives and communication still floats your boat, even on a day like today, then carry on.



    I heard the ‘hurting’ bbc dafties banging the centre back drum before the game last night. Obviously in the absence of any other negatives about our club.

  17. Great result last night. Mature performances all round to stick to the plan after a poor first half hour. After the pass from Oliver, the result was never in serious doubt. I hesitate to say that in the second half it even looked comfortable in the last 30 minutes. Great stuff.



    Great stuff also about the development around the ground – Great to secure another source of income.



    Oh, and apparently Ancelotti has been summoned by the Bayern board to account for a poor start to their season – it isn’t that bad really. What is German, or indeed Italian, for shoogly peg?

  18. Hello again all you young rebels.



    Blog has been a bit fractious with some people having an opinion


    and others disagreeing with it but thats just Celtic supporters, a


    bit like man and wife they will still love one another the next day,


    right, and god help anybody who tries to divide us because together


    we are an almighty force and the best is yet to come in my humble




    I’ve lived through the barren years when we won nothing but still


    followed the bhoys anywhere home and away and arguing like cats


    and dogs all the while about whether the team were shoit or fecking


    world beaters but we were there and you young rebels are just the


    chips off the auld block, I’ve been lucky enough to have watched


    Charlie Tully, Neil Mochan, and the illustrious lions, but me and my


    auld mates still argue on the phone about managers, tactics etc.


    So i guess what i’m trying to say is why take anything personal, your


    critic will probably be your saviour in any confrontation with the hun.


    H.H Mick

  19. Great news regarding the hotel etc but we need to keep our feet on the ground, it’s not as if we have the Albion Car Park.

  20. BEATBHOY on 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 12:56 PM



    As long as it’s not a Novotel.





    As long as it’s no Travel Ludge!



    Cesar’s Palace…..Shirley?

  21. I think in a previous punathon regarding the hotel name someone suggested it should be called Ritz A Grand Old Team To Play For…

  22. Paul67 et al



    One of our greatest ever results in Europe no question about it, leaving Roddy Forsyth and co back in the doldrums. It is amazing what “statistics” you can dig up when you try, especially when they are designed to undermine Celtic’s efforts before a ball has been kicked. (Is “kicked” the past participle of the verb to kick, if not it should be). Let’s look at it another way, up until last night Celtic’s last away win in the CL was this time five years ago in Moscow under Neil Lennon. The following season, 2013-14, again under Neil, we did not win away against Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona. We never played again in the CL until last season under Brendan, when we got two creditable draws away from home. How about, “and Celtic, who have failed twice to get a win away in the CL in the last five years kick off against Anderlecht…” No?

  23. Re the second goal last night…the full back was escorting the ball out for a goal kick and Sinclair, instead of trying to get to the ball from behind the defender (it very seldom works, defender falls and wins free kick), ran around him and forced the full back to turn round 180 degrees and play the ball inside which resulted in the error that gave Paddy his opportunity…the rest, as they say, is history…so well done Scott Sinclair, an intelligent footballer…

  24. Burnley78



    There was no expectation that he would fail the medical?


    Really? Well he was injured at the time, might have been a clue there.


    But as I said glad to have both of our central defenders back playing together.