Celtic 0-0 Benfica


Celtic and Benfica fought out a tight, chess-like, game in their opening Champions League group stage encounter.  Celtic had the best of the opening 15 minutes as Benfica seemed to spooked by the occasion.  Kris Commons, in particular, made good on his pre-match promise to make the most of his Champions League stage, but once Benfica settled action inside the penalty boxes was limited.

Emilio Izaguirre picked up an early booking, the result of poor positioning and a mistimed tackle, and thereafter was subject to continual pressing from Benfica as they sought-out a weak point.  He was replaced after 65 minutes; part of a change of formation which benefited Celtic.

Neither team had a chance worthy of the name but both had good claims for a penalty.  Rodrigo raced after an immaculately times forward ball and collided with the impregnable Fraser Forster.  The Italian referee waved play on.  Five minutes from time James Forrest at last got space to exploit inside the box but Garay caught him mid-flight.  Forrest fell, to no avail.

Kelvin Wilson gave his best performance in a Celtic shirt alongside his initial central defensive partner, Mikael Lustig, then alongside Thomas Rogne, when Lustig retired injured shortly after the hour.  As Benfica pressed Wilson and Charlie Mulgrew always tried to hold the ball and make a pass.  Benfica were strong on the wings and Adam Matthews returned to his best defensive duties to counter.

Victor Wanyama, who also collected an early booking, struggled with concentration throughout the game but Scott Brown put in a tireless shift alongside him.

The change in formation after 65 minutes, when Gary Hooper replaced Izaguirre, improved Celtic enormously.  Hooper used his strength effectively to lead the line, whereas Miku looked a forlorn figure until then.  The 4-4-2 Celtic now deployed also gave Forrest space to exploit for the first time.

Wilson and Brown both played very well but Kris Commons was easily man of the match.  There seemed no part of the field he was not prepared and able to launch an attempt at goal from.  Late in the first half, when Benfica were enjoying their best spell, Commons twice in quick succession used his remarkable understanding of the game by successfully tempting an opponent to foul him.  Pressure was released and Celtic gained a territorial advance.

Celtic never looked to be in any real danger of losing a goal and the vocal crowd believed a glimpse of daylight inside the Benfica box could deliver all three points but the opportunity never arrived.

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  1. BBC quoting the crowd as 53,000 ? Where were the 7000 empty seats, couldn’t see any at all myself ?

  2. jeez_I_thought_blinker_was_pants on

    From Last Blog….



    Did it look like a penalty on TV? I thought James Forrest was caught by the Benfica defender, looking from the North stand. (about the only thing he done all night I may add) SB & KC had good games closely followed by KW,AM & CM (Madmitch eat yer heart out) couple of dodgy moments fron VM after he got booked tho’, we done OK….

  3. Home from Paradise, and a tremendous occasion for Celtic supporters who never cease to thrill, no matter how many campaigns in which we’ve fought, their backing of the club was immense.



    Benfica are a classy confident side but they went away very contented with a draw, whilst Celtic deserved at least a point.



    We started well, and that would have been the time to score but we lacked a potency up front, all night and the Gods took away the Greek that might have given us a win, as Samaras is the perfect player for the furrow ploughed by the lone Miku Fedor who displays some nice touches, but lacked a partnering striker.



    Scott Brown was relentless, and there was also Roy of the Rovers stuff from firm favourites Charlie Mulgrew and Victor Wanyama. Kelvin Wilson had another good game, as did Adam Matthews. For the rest it was ‘could do better,’ and for the second game in a row playing against a very different standard of player, James Forrest was comfortably marked out of a game.



    Kris Commons sometimes wanted too much time for his touch play, and also playing against a higher benchmark of player Emilio Izzaguire couldn’t develope a game close to previous standards, before his eventual withdrawal. Whilst Hooper looked lively when he arrived, Celtic never really looked likely to score and with Mulgrew retracted to fullback, his goal threat disappeared as did his level of input.



    Neil Lennon will be quietly placid Celtic held their own, and the Celtic support showed the Champions League, a glorious Glasgow’s green and white.



    Hail Hail

  4. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    Good term effort. Superb display by Brown- who I normally don’t rate but tonight he was superb.

  5. Jeg er Neil Lennon-Greeninbingley on

    Good result, good start to campaign and we will grow into the group.



    I can only imagine the pressure the team was under tonight – the experience will be priceless IMO. They will be angry at not getting the win which is exactly the right attitude.



    Nights like these are invaluable to our young team. Well done against a side of real quality. All to play for – and Sammi, Joe Paddy and Beram to come back.



    Happy Tim. :)

  6. the glorious balance sheet on

    Big Cup Winners


    the only empty seats I could see were a couple of rows in the North Stand padded seats – attendance was at least 59,000 in my opinion

  7. We did look a little nervous at times, but we played well, Scott Brown had a great game, Wanyama and Charlie Mulgrew played very well, Micu looks like a player, Kelvin played well, just clear yer lines sometimes though. Lustig is a better CB than FB. Adam Matthews showing consistency. Good team performance.


    The support were just magnificent, I love being part of the displays, just glad I can Sky+ them to watch later.


    Just to get back to nervousness, watch the faces of the Benfica players as they stand in line before the game. We can create an atmosphere that will make many teams wilt before a ball is kicked. That was Thunder inside Celtic Park tonight.

  8. big-cup-winners



    Not the only thing the BBC got wrong



    Compare their stats with the official UEFA stats and you’ll see



    For example BBC says benfica had more possession – whereas uefa say Celtic had.more

  9. thom the thim



    I stand by my comments on Gary.



    On the way to the match I listened to the observations of Skippy on the radio as guest pundit. He was stating that Gary did not run in the pre-match warm up and was clearly unfit to play. He did not expect to see him take part.



    When he came on he was running with a stuttering gait, a clear sign of injury-protection and he gave up on some hopeful chases which Tony Watt would have competed for. On two occasions that I saw, he got on the end of a ball and re-cycled it but both his reaction time and speed were severely diminished. The manager allowed himself to be conned by Gary who was a bit of a passenger because of his injury. He took Lustig off because his hamstrings were tightening, he stated in the after match conference, but Lustig was 3 times more mobile than Gary Hooper.

  10. jmccormick



    23:55 on 19 September, 2012


    So, there we are /My big Sevco suppoting mate convinced his local to dedicate one screen to our match tonight.So I got the whole match instead of highlights, just as well as highlights were few and far between.


    For all that I am pissed off we did not manage a shot on target, I now see how far removed we are from being a force at this level. I already knew it , just denied the truth from myself. Well played Celtic, you did your best and deserved the draw, 4 points is now our potential points total, I hope I am wrong.


    I am not too despondent, I would have taken 0-0 at kick off., just a shame that we could not raise our game to the correct tempo after a bright start. I see from the web sites that the DR and BBC Scotland are putting a huge negative spin on the performance, feck them!


    How well would any other Scottish team have performed?





    Good God man, you have just written their negative report for them. You sound like an imposter IMO.

  11. the glorious balance sheet



    00:14 on 20 September, 2012


    Big Cup Winners


    the only empty seats I could see were a couple of rows in the North Stand padded seats – attendance was at least 59,000 in my opinion





    I would have thought 58,000+


    Were the old Kelly/White board counting the crowd?

  12. Where were the 7000 empty seats ? Looked full to me.



    The step up from SPL to champions league is massive.


    Even more so for a young squad.



    Celtic deserve credit.

  13. Just posted the same thing on last blog



    Wasnt a seat to be had up in 443 whole ground looked full.









    00:11 on 20 September, 2012




    BBC quoting the crowd as 53,000 ? Where were the 7000 empty seats, couldn’t see any at all myself ?

  14. I have to state that I was impressed by the referee’s handling of the match and he was by no means the card happy, give a foul every time, kind of ref that his rep suggested.



    I would go as far as to say that he minimised some of Benfica’s tactics by refusing to be coned when they tried to get Victor and Broonie sent off. He did not crack down on time wasting and the 3 mins. extra was accounted by the 5 subs rather than any punishment of their slow approach to corners.

  15. We were guilty of passing the ball back to the GK at times, especially in the first half, rather than trying to find a forward pass. Long kicks from Foster were almost always won by the Benfica CBs; this intself shows how integral Samaras is to our game. Mulgrew played above himself to try and create an opening and was brave to hold on to the ball. We really lacked an equivalent outlet on the right, as Forrest was matched for pace and couldn’t find a way to get into the game.

  16. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on




    I liked the ref too. Liked him more when he denied them a stonewaller. We wd have been screaming for that one.

  17. Disappointed with the result.


    I thought that Benfica were there for the taking, but we were unable to maintain our initial momentum and promise.


    We never posed a real threat, especially with Forrest anonomous and ineffective, and Izzy as nervous as a turkey in November.


    Hopeful that we will improve when Samaras returns and Miku strikes up an understanding with Hooper.


    I would like to see Watt getting a run out and Forrest being on the bench for a few weeks and used as an impact sub. Pity it didn’t happen tonight.

  18. Good point for us tonight


    Good experience for ten of starting eleven


    Big Fraz deserved the botd at pen


    Lustig & Wilson looked good together


    Matthews looking like himself again


    Izzy ? Only Murdo on shortbread told the truth. where you listening Neil ?


    67 teeth pulled after booking


    Mulgrew in his best position – did well


    SB looked lively


    Forrest ? Oh dear


    Commons required to play a different game from normal. Our biggest threat


    Miku ? Who ?


    Our 12th man – without them – tumble-weed time


    P.S. Commons goal at Perth on Saturday was our only attempt on goal in three hours of football.


    No wonder the gates are falling


    Hail Hail

  19. Just in, a decent point against a good team though would have liked some more goalmouth action! We missed Samaras badly tonight. I really think if we had had a full squad to pick from we would have won that.



    Scott Brown was outstanding, particularly second half. Thought Wilson and Matthews each got better as the game went on. Was disappointed in Izzy and Forrest’s performance mind, their left back had Forrest in his back pocket. And yer man Miku doesn’t like jumping for balls much though I can cut him some slack seeing as he’s barely in the door.



    Atmosphere was stunning as expected pre match though the match itself wasn’t the best, can’t remember either goalie making a save of any note but hey I’m just glad we’re back in the big time! Would be interested to know whether it was a pen for us or not, was at the other end of the pitch and didn’t have a great view.



    Will need to get something on the road but listening to the post match interviews with Neil and Rogne on the BBC, they seem pretty confident that they can! Here’s hoping!



    Now, bring on Dundee!

  20. The referee was excellent. Knew his stuff, and had obviously done his homework on the teams. I thought it was a good game, and Benfica will be the happier side. Samaras, Kayal, and especially Joe Ledley will make a huge difference when fit. The new boys will be invaluable as the season goes on. I’m happy enough. Benfica were 8/13 in the local bookies–a joke. Big Fraser looked a quality keeper also. Look at the difference from the last two seasons–immense.

  21. jude2005 is Neil Lennon \o/ on

    Did emdae notice the Benfica player look around just b4 the handshakes with a smile on his face? Like he was saying to himself. I like this place!! <:o))

  22. StumptownBhoy-(ex-SanDiegoBhoy)For_wee_Oscar on

    Oozing with pride today from far away.



    What an atmosphere, what a spectacle! The Benfica lads knew they were in a game even as they walked onto the pitch and were swamped by the wall of sound.



    I wouldn’t anyone disappointed, and the younger players will come on in leaps and bounds after games like that. Izzy needs his confidence in his ability again. Kris Commons, or Skoosh- a dilemma for MOTM. Kelvin and Charlie standouts too.



    If only Kris’s long distance effort had looped in…

  23. saltires en sevilla on

    Paul 67 you are spot on Kris seemed to be everywhere at one point we were joking about his shuttle runs from corner to corner …each delivery or 95% deserved a good attack from a hoops player ..but alas we have failed to fill that slot properly yet again



    Tho’ I disagree on MOTM ,,step forward broony and I’ll tell you why:



    There was a point in the second half when they decided we were there for the taking big Vic67 had been taken out the game by an outrageous booking …(italian ref back pocket bulging) or so I thought until he waved away the benfica penalty claim when the otherwise excellent FF ‘plated’ a player on the break in the first -half …no pen given when it would have been a stick on pen for a cheating ref -so I take the slur back the ref…he was just a pure diddy



    Vic was out the game after that



    Broony stepped up …in the crucial 20 mins In the 2nd half when he stood up to them




    we were rocking ..almost …Brrrooony made sure we didn’t roll over.



    I felt Chas had good spells and Matty and Kelvin and big Lusty Gig did well



    the rest seemed a bit overcome



    Thank god Barca got back on top –otherwise we could be looking at 4th



    3rd is a good bet, 2nd is NOW an outside bet




  24. jude2005



    I thought it was a pen when Forster collided with the Benfica forward but he was clever enough about it to leave doubt in the ref’s mind. Both Brown and Victor gave him opportunities to issue a 2nd yellow but he resisted.



    Reluctant to say it but the ref had a very good game.

  25. A welcome return to the Champions League and over all a draw was a fair result.



    Main worries were Emilio, Victor & James Forrest who were over-awed and the tendency to play every free kick backwards leading to a way too cautious approach.



    Positives were fine performances from Commons, Mulgrew and Wilson.

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