Celtic looked nervy during the opening exchanges in their Champions League clash with Lazio last night, as Lazio imposed a high press. A 12th minute turn and drive inside from Daizen Maeda changed things.
Daizen found Matt O’Riley who played a truly great one-touch pass behind the defence into the box. This is Kyogo Territory and the Japanese’ movement bought him enough time to drill a shot that deceived the keeper and opened the scoring.
That shocked Lazio into a response as Celtic endured a high and fast press this grouo of defenders have never collectively faced. Celtic struggled to progress the ball forward, with the usually effective Reo Hatate’s distribution well below par.
Lazio forced a couple of corners before their equaliser arrived. They had two distinct strategies for each side for the field, with attackers clustered inside the six yard box for inswingers from the left, and lined up behind each other for outswingers from the left.
The latter caused enough confusion to lead to the equaiser. With numerical advantage inside the box, the defence should have prevailed.
If Lazio had the better of the opening period, Celtic dominated the second half. Just after the hour, Luis Palma and Cameron Carter-Vickers replaced Yang and Nat Phillips. Both arrivals injected control and drive into Celtic.
With 8 minutes remaining, the whole of Celtic Park (apart from the guy sitting beside me) thought Palma had put Celtic ahead, but VAR ruled a touch from Maeda was enough to disallow the goal for offside.
Lazio were winding down the clock in added time but a moment off balance from Carter-Vickers allowed them to drive into the box. As with their first goal, the defence will think they should have marked better.
A game which could have been won and should at the very least have seen Celtic take a point was lost. There is a softness about us which needs worked on.
I think the game came too soon for us. You can see shoots of potential in Palma and the authority Carter-Vickers brought to the game was enough to turn the tide of play. His late split does not touch the sides of support he has in the bank from Celtic fans.
It’s a tough ask now to finish third in the group.