FK JABLONEC 2 CELTIC 4
ANGE POSTECOGLOU celebrated his first win as Celtic boss at the fourth attempt in the Czech Republic tonight.
Hoops fans will also be delighted to see the team triumph in an away game at the ninth time of trying to obliterate a woeful record that stretched all the way back to February 14.
Postecoglou will have been well pleased with the goals scored by Liel Abada, Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest and Ryan Christie, but he will be worried at how easily his back lot can be undone with simple straightforward passes.
Twice they invited Jablonec into the contest with some dreadful defending when the game really should have been out of sight with the firing squad passing up numerous opportunities to pile on the misery on the home side.
IT TAKES TWO…Celtic’s first-half goalscorers Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada celebrate.
Still, Celtic will almost certainly now play AZ Alkmaar in the final Europa League play-off unless there is a disaster around the corner at Parkhead a week tonight.
But there was a lot on show to make Postecoglou happy, including the two-first-half strikes. The first goal in the 12th minute was superbly carved open by Forrest and Greg Taylor on the left and the full-back delivered a deadly cross into the danger zone.
The lively Abada saw his first-timed left-foot drive hit a defender, but he swiftly reacted to the rebound to thump in the ricochet for the crucial opener.
Six minutes later, it was the turn of new Bhoy Kyogo Furuhashi to claim his first for the club and this effort was stamped with everything the new boss has been preaching. Joe Hart touched the ball out to Taylor who rolled it in front of Carl Starfelt.
ELEVEN FROM HEAVEN…Liel Abada celebrates the opening strike.
The Swede passed it onto Nir Bitton and the Israeli strolled forward with nonchalant ease before releasing a perfect pass in the direction of Kyogo. His first touch was sublime as he came away from a defender, opened up an angle, enticed keeper Jan Hanus from his line and then clipped a right-foot effort into the inviting net.
But rearguard deficiencies were on display again when the home side pulled one back with a startlingly easy goal. In the 19th minute, Vaclav Pilar was allowed to glide between Bitton and Starfelt to get on the end of a through ball. Debut Bhoy Hart was left exposed and the Czech forward knocked the ball wide of his grasping right hand.
Within 60 seconds, Callum McGregor had almost restored the two-goal advantage with a crisp low angled drive from just outside the box, but it edged inches wide of the far post with the netminder helpless.
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi rolls in his first – and Celtic’s second – goal with the Czech defence shredded.
HANDS UP IF YOU HAVE JUST SCORED…Kyogo Furuhashi looks delighted after doubling the Hoops’ advantage.
In the 33rd minute, Bitton showed some class by winning a tackle and jinking away from a defender, but he spoiled the move with a drive that flew high and wide.
Five minutes later, McGregor set up Abada, but his rasping left-foot drive was pushed away by the sprawling Hanus.
Three minutes after the interval, Kyogo had an astonishing miss when an Abada cross was deflected onto the inside of the right-hand post. The ball bounced to the Japanese frontman, but he snatched at the rebounded and thumped it high over the bar from four yards
In the 64th minute, David Turnbull sent Abada scurrying through and the impressive Israeli winger sizzled in a fine drive. Once more, the keeper got a hand to the ball, but on this occasion Forrest was swift to pounce and he knocked in the third goal.
EURO JOY…Ange Postecoglou gets his first Celtic win in the Czech Republic.
That signalled the opportunity for Postecoglou to send on three substitutes with Odsonne Edouard, Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie replacing Kyogo, Turnbull and Abada.
In the 85th minute, Christie surrendered possession and the home side broke swiftly on the left. Thomas Malinsky was completely unmarked as he zeroed in on Hart. His deft touch carried over the stranded No.1, but the ball hit the inside of the far post before bouncing into the net off Bitton who looked slow to react to the danger.
But it all ended in smiles when Ralston released Forrest on the right with a clever throw-in. The Scotland international wasted no time in delivering the ball into the box and Christie dived full-length to claim the fourth with a bullet-like header from six yards.
Hopefully, this is the start of something good.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Bitton, Starfelt, Taylor; Soro, Turnbull (sub: Rogic 64), McGregor; Abada (sub: Christie 65), Kyogo (sub: Edouard 65), Forrest.