Clinical and secure Celtic sever AZ


Celtic went out of the Champions League to a Midtjylland team that found it difficult to keep the ball and struggled to create chances.  What they were was more clinical than Celtic up front and sufficiently more secure at the back.  The contrast with our experience last night was stark.

For much of the game there was little between Celtic and AZ Alkmaar.  The visitors enjoyed the slight majority of possession, completed more passes, came within inches of opening the scoring and really should have narrowed Celtic’s two goal margin with a shot from six yards.

As we found out to our cost in Denmark, all that counts for nought.  Football is about two things: putting the ball in the net and stopping your opponents from doing the same.  Celtic’s upgrade between the posts, in defence and attack, since facing Midtylland last month, makes them a potent opponent.

After having a shaky start to both halves, Stephen Welsh made it his mission to win every ball in the air.  As AZ tried to find a way back into the game, Stephen’s timing and lift repeatedly blocked their progress.  Anthony Ralston appeared to arrive from nowhere to clear decisively inside his own six-yard box, then, in the closing moments, humbled his opponent to win a corner kick.  Both defenders performed above expectation.

Yet another European qualifier, yet another goal from James Forrest.  His deflected shot tilted the balance in Celtic’s favour.  Even before Celtic’s 12th minute opener, Joe Hart demonstrated why Celtic agreed to his spectacular wages by extending a foot to turn a shot against the inside of the post.  At the time, it felt like a crucial moment in the tie.

I expected AZ to tire going into the latter stages but with around 20 minutes to go they clearly had the upper hand, pressing Celtic back into a tight defensive formation.  Having already introduced Odsonne Edouard, Ange Postecoglou introduced Adam Montgomery and James McCarthy to close the game out.

Not only did this work, but it resulted in a chance that really should have put the tie to bed.  Another Ralston rake down the right saw Edouard lunge to head a loose ball that was cleared off the line by a defender, only as far as Montgomery, who also saw his header cleared off the line.

A 3-0 margin would have flattered Celtic but not their new idol.  Kyogo Furuhashi’s opening goal could not have been scored by any other player at the club.  His speed, flight and control made an already good cross from Tom Rogic into a spectacular goal.  Three weeks after his arrival, Kyogo looks like the deal of the decade.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8

  1. due to hols, the last game i was at was Dundee and since then i have been on laptop or phone with lost of interruptions



    As such, I have have not been able to assess Starfelt properly yet. At this stage I have seen 2 errors (full backs and mids have made more) and several clearances from set pieces ( i may have credited him a couple that were Welsh).



    I don’t see a Bitton who is not really a defender but I don’t see an Ajer; great on the ball but can’t head.



    He is a new player and his strengths or weakness will come out. I’m pretty neutral right now which to me means he is better than what we had last year. works for me



    PS when Kyogo goes off; we need a fit McCarthy or Soro in CM as our ball players get overrun a bit at that stage ; IMHO

  2. Paul The Spark on

    Duff & Phelps have now lodged a claim for £25 million due to reputational damage. Losing count of how much the Crown Office have had to pay out now.

  3. The commentator Guy Mowbray, I doubt he’s seen a Celtic game ,or been to CP in his life,BBJ was iinforming him of our history and current players.

  4. Yes a great victory and well-earned plaudits from Paul for those he mentions. However there is enough in his report, and in what we witnessed last night, to emphasise that this tie is not over, by any means. Another totally committed performance will be required next week when more pressure will be on our defensive abilities. Notwithstanding, I expect us to fashion some chances – let’s hope that unlike Midtjylland we can take one, or, two.

  5. I love Kyogo’s commitment, but wouldn’t encourage him to slide tackle full backs again….

  6. Ralston had an amazing game last night.Unrecognisable from the big raw looking boy who virtually lumbered about under previous managers.The most pleasing thing is,it looks like it’s no flash in the pan.He made a couple of errors,as did they all,but anyone who thinks that every pass,every decision,should be perfect,knows nothing about football.Some great headed clearances also from Welsh and Starfelt.


    If the majority of fans are going to buy into Anges style,then they must also accept mistakes will be made.Defenders getting left one on one,never a good thing.


    Watching us going forward,is fantastic.We COULD have scored five,unlucky,and great goalkeeping.


    Against a very capable team.

  7. theBHOYfromU.N.C.L.E on

    Pointed out at the game that Eddie never took part going round the pitch with the rest of the team after the final whistle………….injured?

  8. JHB



    I don’t think he can go with Turnbull and Rogic away from home but I’m naturally cautious and Ange is braver and believes in not disrupting the system so.



    He may drop out Abada for Edouard a la Hearts game

  9. Regards scapegoating, it’s just what some people do. Best ignored in the hope that whoever is on the receiving end won’t be affected by it. Taylor does look like the sort of guy who might let it get to him, but he’s playing with absolute confidence at the minute do you’d expect that Ange knows a bit about his to handle it



    It’s extremely unlikely we’re getting another high profile left back as long as we have him and Boli at the club. You can’t just sign more players if relatively expensive signings don’t work out unless you move one out



    What was particularly impressive last night was how we finished. Ange had us right up the pitch right up to the final whistle and it did make the last ten minutes more bearable. We should have scored as well, and the instructions to get people in the box for the corner bear the end were telling.



    It looks likely Ange backs his instincts, keep going at them until the end and it makes defending easier. As Hart says, trust 100% in the system

  10. Joe Hart demonstrated why Celtic agreed to his spectacular wages






    The news he’s on 15K a week is seemingly bs then.



    I’m certainly not complaining, he’s clearly an upgrade and we wouldn’t have won that game last night without him.

  11. Thought Tony and Stephen were excellent Would love to know stats for Welshys tackles/interceptions



    Someone on another site described him as



    “Welshy will chase and do any player crossing halfway line as if they have just robbed his hoose”

  12. A wee rest for a couple on Saturday,I would hope.Big week next week.Calmac,Kyogo.Vital to the way we are playing.Mc Carthy needs game time as well.Hopefully RC back.

  13. JC2,



    Welshy will chase and do any player crossing halfway line as if they have just robbed his hoose”,





    Yep,virtually coming on leaps and bounds,

  14. Turkeybhoy on 19th August 2021 12:02 pm



    Big Tony.









    On another note I think we can score a couple over there to.



    Working on the assumption that they were playing a more defensive game away from home than usual then they should be more open at the back whilst attacking more and trying to wipe away our two goal lead.



    Offf to Dublin in the green in the green today. Hope that doesn’t offend any snowflakes.




  15. Rogic struggles to play 2 games a week, never mind 3,so I would rest him on Saturday, and play Christie

  16. We are playing AP football with L plates — getting more and more of the game right but prone to the odd howler.



    This season’s AZ against real quality are cannon fodder — will be picked off and then closed out.


    However we are 2 or 3 players away from real quality and we have only 7 weeks experience of playing AP’s style of football. Plus we didn’t play that well last night for too much of the game.



    Consequently game on for next week — I think we can progress if we play our A game.


    More focus / more intensity / more clinical finishing — we don’t treat every chance as if it is going to be our last. That bis the next step in the journey.



    Whoever loses will be amongst the favourites for the EuCon unlike the game involving our friends in Govan.

  17. Rolling Stone:



    “I thought Starfelt looked much better on the right side of defence – can’t quite understand why he has been getting pelters for last night.”



    I think he got `pelters` because many people, once they have made their minds up about something, only see those things which support that view.

  18. CONEYBHOY on 19TH AUGUST 2021 12:16 PM





    I don’t think he can go with Turnbull and Rogic away from home.




    I agree, you would imagine it would be the ideal scenario to have McCarthy step in – but is he up to speed?



    It would not surprise me if the manager said “same again”. We equally shared the possession percentage last night at home, maybe away we will see AZ with very much the lions share – that is a worry as we haven’t been dominated by anyone yet this season and we do have documented frailties in defence.



    We are of course playing so much better than against the Danes, and it does make you wonder, if not for Bitton’s red card in the first leg and Jamsie’s glaring miss in the second, we could have ‘pitted our wits’ against a different Dutch side and now be safely ensconced in the EL groups, at least.



    However, thankful for small mercies, last night was a good night for all Tims.

  19. Last night’s midfield 3 of Turnbull, Rogic and McGregor is set up for creativity and attack and is a risky one for an away leg when we are protecting a 2 goal lead.



    Pragmatism suggests we turn to a Soro or a McCarthy in the return and sacrifice one or more, with a clear and obvious strategy to hit them on the break at speed – keep the top 3 from last night in for that one…



    Personally I’d give time to both McCarthy and Soro over the 90 and drop Tam Rogic (who has been terrific), play Callum at LM…..




  20. On Starfelt, I feel its a concentration issue. Both he and Welsh are dominating in the air at present. We look much more secure at set pieces. The demands of playing out from the back is where both, but more so Starfelt at present, have had the occasional lapse.



    I’ve seen enough positives to be confident he will settle. In some ways I think he is still doing his ore season. Remember he has only been with us a month and has played every minute as far as I recall.



    That said, if big Julien was fit next week, Welsh would be the preferred partner for him. Like Ralston, he’s earned the Jersey, whoever comes in will have to win it off them. I’m hoping Welsh goes on to be a long term feature in a Celtic Jersey. Who was the last home grown centre back who did that? I’m not including Stephen McManus BTW. I’m talking Cal Mac and JF levels of appearances, trophies etc.

  21. jimbob71 & little Miss jimbob on




    He just looks like a man who loves football, loves playing football and loves sharing his love of football!!!



    A fabulous all energy finish from him.



    When James Forrest’s goal goes in, watch the clip of Kyogo, arms straight in the air, looking to the skies and straight over to celebrate.



    He is infectious in character!!


    I also loved my football last night.

  22. glendalystonsils on

    If we had been playing Midtjylland this week and next , I’m confident we would have beaten them . That tie just came too early into Ange’s revolution . Next week v AZ will be tough but with us improving week on week , we have a great chance .

  23. From E-Tims,Celtic Diary,



    Hart and Ralston stood out last night, Hart with a couple of great saves, and Ralston for his workrate and awareness. Of course, that means those that are never happy will now shift their focus onto Greg Taylor , still largely at fault for not being Keiran Tierney, but there are those who do love a moan.





    Whereas Elvis said he just cant stop believing, one wonders whether some supporters can’t start….

  24. “Spectacular wages”? Now where would you get access to that kind of information Paul?


    Oh that’s right.


    Pretty much all of us would have settled for 2-0 last night, but the fact is we could have won 3-0 at the near end of the game. Never saw a side on angle to the stramash so not sure if any of the three efforts crossed the line. Wonder if there is any of those Celtic TV ‘different angle’ films out there? That said if we score even one goal over there AZ will need 3-4 goals to keep in the game or go through.


    Special mention to Eddie for coming on and helping us pose a threat right to the last minute.

  25. HOT SMOKED on 19TH AUGUST 2021 12:38 PM


    Rolling Stone:







    “I thought Starfelt looked much better on the right side of defence – can’t quite understand why he has been getting pelters for last night.”







    I think he got `pelters` because many people, once they have made their minds up about something, only see those things which support that view.




    Correct.They can’t help it.Never seem to be able to see the good points.Same with Taylor.On Taylor,I think they will be really disappointed,because I have a feeling Ange really likes what he sees.

  26. Might be heresy to say so but – having just watched again – I thought our midfield underperformed for big clumps last night: I agree, Paul, we’re better at back and upfront but still a bit light of real midfield dig.



    The good news about that is if we up gears in midfield next midweek – where Cal’s re-energised, Turnbull more accurate with passing and mibby Ryan grafting the way only Ryan (and Kyogo) can – we could really do them over again. We rode our luck a fair bit last night, but restricted them to precious few shots in reality.



    Re bolstering midfield BW, I’d take a fit Soro over a sluggish McCarthy in any game at the mo.

  27. What a ride we are in for with the Angeball.



    I never relaxed for a minute last night, sure the old failings would come to haunt us and loose a potentially crucial last gasp goal .But no, we saw it out .



    I disagree with Paul, the subs did not work. We gave AZ more time on the ball and couldn’t get possession up the park. the lack of Kyogos high press allowed them time to pick thier passThe improvements in sone players has been spectacular..but..



    A special mention for Tom Rogic, a joy to watch ,

  28. Weebobbycollins on

    AZ will be hard pressed to stop us from scoring next week. I would not be overly cautious, we have momentum and it’s been a while since we have seen such desire from our players. They know what’s at stake, as does Ange. I do believe they will not let us down…

  29. A bit quiet on the transfer front today.Understandable I suppose.Hope Juranovic is in by the weekend.I see Henry is still an option,as is the Greek striker.As is my choice,Lovric.All for very decent money.Over 60 goals and around 30 assists between them last season.


    And you thought Kyogo was a bargain.Theres more out there.

  30. Somebody mentioned Eddy not going round the park with the other players after the game.



    That’s true enough, he was straight up the tunnel.



    Hopefully to find his agent to say “Get me a year’s extension, this is great fun.”




    I thought that about the midfield last night,but on reflection,maybe they have just been so good recently,just to be “Good” was a bit of a let down.

  32. Paul67


    Heard Collins and Hartson saying same thing last night .


    Kyogo is shaping up to be the steal of the century .


    Did we really land this guy for around £4.5m ? .

  33. TR @ 12.31



    Off to Dublin so you say …


    Wearing lots of green / olive green?



    Oh well — Physical Force Republicanism must be on the lookout for another tea boy.

  34. The Battered Bunnet on

    Are we allowing the clean sheet and the result generally to colour our judgement?

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8