Do anything nice last night? The consequences of what took place at Celtic Park are profound, but there will be plenty of time to discuss them later. For now, let’s concentrate on the small matter of how this result was achieved.
The record books will show 5-0, but there was more to this game than the thumping it turned into. For the first 30 minutes, Astana pressed Celtic high, unsettling our natural game, while forcing the occasional error. We didn’t have the luxury of time and space normally afforded us in domestic football.
This was a worrying period, although there were promising glimpses. Scott Sinclair latched into a loose ball seven yards from goal 3 minutes into the game, but could not find the target. Moments later James Forrest pitched a perfect cross for Leigh Griffiths. Celtic Park stood ready to celebrate, but again, the target was missed.
Those moments aside, the early flow of a game was not going to plan, but Celtic continued to pass the ball with precision, switching play , looking for space. Tom Rogic’s trademark surging run provided the breakthrough. His cross-cum-shot would have gone narrowly wide, but for the intervention of a disorientated defender, who turned the ball into his net.
This goal encapsulated the real chasm between the teams. Astana were good in possession and looked fitter in the opening period, but Celtic had no real weaknesses. A poorly marked corner one minute after the opening goal was the only genuine chance the visitors had all evening. Whereas Celtic probed for, and found, many vulnerabilities in their opponents.
Forrest foraged on the right, Sinclair was scintillating on the left. Ntcham’s neat passing swung the pendulum Celtic’s way, as Griffiths grew into the game through the middle, while Brown bossed proceedings in the no. 6 role.
Olivier Ntcham is still finding his feet in Glasgow, but he will be difficult to dislodge as Scott Brown’s central-mid partner. He’s a different player than Victor Wanyama, but Victor wasn’t as effective, this early, in his Celtic career.
Remember, Olivier has played very little senior football, only 37 games before his summer transfer. Practically everything he does right now is new. Wait until he realises he’s good enough to own the pitch.
Last night’s highlights…
LISTEN to the latest CQN Podcast now…
GET your Gotcha! t-shirt while stocks last…