Bayern Munich left Glasgow with three points, but that was two more than they deserved. The game was decided on a 22nd minute lapse. Dedryk Boyata should have headed but allowed the ball to bounce behind him. This is the kind of mistake which primary school kids are shouted out for. From that moment, Coman was clear through on Craig Gordon, who made the mistake of coming out of his box in the vain hope of reaching the ball before the French international striker. That aside, Celtic were excellent and deserved a point for their efforts.
As with the corresponding game in Munich, this was a game for James Forrest, not Patrick Roberts, so I was pleased Brendan Rodgers’ hand was forced with the injury to Patrick. James was outstanding. He regularly drew three defenders, kept his head up in possession, and created the chance which allowed Callum McGregor to convert.
Watch James again at the goal. He played the magicians’ trick: “Look over here, watch me.” Every Bayern Munich player was focused on him before he pulled a rabbit out of the hat, it was a thing of beauty. Wing play is difficult, although it seems it is more difficult for some to understand it, than it is to play there. I enjoyed watching Arjen Robben, but James was the more productive winger last night.
Screeds have been written about a momentary lapse by Nir Bitton at Firhill, which cost Celtic nothing. Last night, under the most intense pressure, the player grew in stature in the central defensive position. I heard “What are you doing?” as he chased down a loose ball in the Bayern right back position a moment before the Celtic goal, but without that, or his build-up play which led to the goal, we would not have drawn level.
It is also worth recording that Celtic still had the option to make a substitution when Nir received a head injury which resulted in several minutes treatment and the application of a substantial bandage. If his appetite for a scrap was in question (you know what I mean), he would have left the field at that moment.
I was getting frustrated for Callum McGregor, who constantly showed for the ball, but in the central role he started the game, seldom received it. It was a brave move for Brendan to hook Scott Sinclair and push Callum wide, although Scott was clearly below his best, but this change was pivotal in getting Celtic level. The aforementioned build up play from Bitton, the run and delicious dink from Forrest, cut Bayern open. In true Halloween fashion, Callum wasted no time in burying ghosts of past German encounters.
Scott Brown was imperious, while Stuart Armstrong will still be replaying his early chance to open the scoring over in his mind, he can be satisfied with his performance. Lustig and Tierney put in mature and energetic efforts.
Moussa Dembele had little scope to shine; an early left foot effort which he didn’t connect with cleanly was the sum total of his genuine opportunities. Celtic wisely put numbers in defence and midfield, leaving the striker isolated.
A word about Dedryk. He dropped on his knee on the final whistle, no doubt feeling the pain of his earlier mistake. You and I have been watching football long enough to know this is part of the game. Big Billy shared a couple of similar memories with me, which he carried like old wounds. Dedryk has recovered from darker places during his time at Celtic and can use the hurt from last night against PSG, and when his countrymen visit on match day 6. It was an infuriating moment, but he is a player unrecognisable from the Dedryk we lamented in Molde.
There is so much to be positive about. On similar form, we will destroy Anderlecht and no one will fancy coming to Celtic Park in the Europa League. So what do you have to worry about? We’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Brendan Rodgers – The Road to Paradise is available now from CQNBookstore.com – the first 100 orders received will come with a free gift.