CELTIC 2 WEST HAM 6
ANGE POSTECOGLOU versus David Moyes turned out to be men against Bhoys.
The young Celts were given the runaround by the London outfit and the new manager knows he has massive defence problems ahead of the crucial Champions League second round return leg qualifier against FC Midtjylland on Wednesday night with the tie balanced at 1-1.
Rookie defenders Stephen Welsh and Dane Murray were shredded by the experienced Michail Antonio during a slaughter in the sunshine in the east end of Glasgow.
They were picked off by the powerhouse frontman as the Hoops failed to win at home for a third consecutive game in Postecoglou’s reign.
TOUCHLINE GLOOM…Ange Postecoglou shows his frustration.
There is no way Neil Lennon’s successor can be blamed for what he has inherited, but if this side do not quickly get their act together with the Premiership kick-off against Hearts at Tyneccastle scheduled for a week tonight there will be very little to celebrate for the fans for a second successive season.
The Hammers waltzed through the back lot with ease time and time again in a performance that flagged up distress signals any time the ball was 30 yards away for the Celtic goal. This is a Hoops defence that there is for the taking and today’s opponents smelled blood.
There is much work to be done and Postecoglou will not need to be told that. The problems are glaringly obvious after this nervous, error-riddled outing.
And yet this started brightly enough for the Hoops when new skipper Callum McGregor curled in the opening goal with a deft 18-yard effort in the eighth minute.
In those early moments things looked encouraging with Odsonne Edouard, Liel Abada and Ryan Christie linking up well and looking in the mood. And the French striker should have doubled the lead in the 22nd minute when he missed lamentably from six yards with a header.
Christie picked him out with a superb left-wing delivery, but Edouard inexplicably nodded the ball wide from smack in front of goal. It was an embarrassing miss and the Hoops were made to pay two minutes later when Antonio levelled.
CAPTAIN AND MARKSMAN…Callum McGregor opened the scoring.
Murray gave the ball away with a slack pass, Mark Noble pounced to set up Antonio who chopped away from Welsh and rolled it home.
Eight minutes later, the Hammers were ahead with a good build-up down the left that saw Antonio race away from Welsh, drift in front of Murray and beat Vasilis Barkas at his near post after being allowed acres of space to aim at.
The third goal arrived in the 39th minute when Noble sent Barkas the wrong way from the penalty spot after ref John Beaton had adjudged Ismail Soro had knocked over Antonio.
Scott Bain came on to start the second-half in place of Barkas and 10 minutes later Postecoglou replaced the entire 10 outfield players. It didn’t make much difference.
PICK IT OUT…Michail Antonio brushes off Dane Murray and beats static Vasilis Barkas for the second goal.
Christie threw his team-mates a lifeline when he toe-poked a right-wing cross from the tricky Abada away from the fumbling Darren Randolph in the 50th minute, but the procession continued four minutes later when Said Benrahma sold dummies to Murray and Bain and slipped in No.4. It was all done with far too much comfort by Moyes’ marauders.
In the 74th minute, Tom Rogic needlessly conceded possession with a sloppy pass that went for a shy and 13 seconds later the visitors had scored their fifth with a neat finish from Jarrord Bowen who got in front of the dithering Nir Bitton to glide a 10-yard effort away from the motionless Bain.
Five minutes from time, ex-Celt Armstrong Oko-Flex-Flex capitalised on some more slack awareness from Bitton to roll an angled shot past the slow-motion Bain.
Three games in Glasgow in eight days, two losses, one draw, eight goals conceded and three scored.
We could be in for a bumpy ride. If this doesn’t get the Hoops hierarchy galavinised into getting bodies in, then nothing will.
FIRST TEAM: Barkas; Ralston, Murray, Welsh, Taylor; Soro, McGregor; Abada, Turnbull, Christie; Edouard.
SECOND TEAM: Bain: Urhoghide, Hjelde, Bitton, Montgomery; Robertson, Shaw; Forrest, Rogic, Henderson; Griffiths.