You can only beat the team in front of you, and in that respect, Celtic were scintillating against Nomme Kalju last night. The precision and speed with which they moved the ball was a significant improvement on most of last season, the impact Ryan Christie had on this fact should not be underestimated.
Kalju defended solidly until the opening goal went in. At this, their resistance crumbled. Simultaneously, Boli Bolingoli went off injured, his second injury retirement in three games for Celtic. On this basis, I am not convinced the player is injury-free, which may be inhibiting his performance.
When Mikey Johnston replaced Boli, Kalju were reduced to chasing shadows. When Johnston, Christie, McGregor and Forrest are allowed the dictate tempo to the extent they were last night, they are remarkably effective.
Leigh Griffiths’ goal was cathartic for the player. It was an exceptional free kick, reminiscent of his strike against Hapoel Be’er Shiva three years ago. Last season we succeeded in winning a treble, despite being reduced to one striker for most of the campaign – and to none for some of it. With Leigh back in the squad, Neil Lennon will have options that were not available earlier this year. Including playing two strikers, as he did last night.
With defensive numbers still low. yesterday we signed 28-year-old Israeli Hatem Abd Elhamed. It remains to be seen how Neil Lennon views the player, who made his international debut replacing Nir Bitton last month, and may well replace him as central defensive cover.