The score-line shows a narrow win, but the substance of Celtic’s second half performance was significantly different from what we have seen so often this season, including the first half. Lots of good chances were created – and missed – however, this was reassuring as we hoped not only for a win, but for a substantive change of fortunes.
Moreover, Brendan Rodgers will surely ponder what changes were made at halftime to bring about an effect he worked on since Sunday’s defeat, but failed to materialise at kick off.
The first half provided only more frustrating material. Leigh Griffiths looked as ponderous as Odsonne Edouard has been recently. Had it been Edouard who missed two great chances with the scores still level, not Leigh, the French striker would have come under yet more pressure, but even our goal-den striker was finding it tough.
Progress happens one step at a time and with 83 minutes gone, Leigh was the wrong side of the ball when James Forrest’s header was blocked, with a defender either side of him and a third opponent closer to the ball. Leigh was the most alert man in the stadium. He swivelled and was on the ball before anyone else knew what was happening. His finish was none too shabby, either.
I don’t know what was said by Dedryck Boyata to referee John Beaton in the 90th minute but Brendan Rodgers summed it up well, intimating the player passed up several opportunities not to be red carded, but chose to persist with a grievance, the validity of which is moot. The card was more for rank stupidity than anything said.
Scott Bain has not had much game time recently, so I get that he wanted to be involved in the dying seconds of added time, but his walkabout nearly sent us into extra time with 10 men. Goalkeeping is first and foremost about decision making. Scott made a howler.
Ask anyone and they will tell you that inconsistency in defensive selection leads to poor understanding and results. Despite a catalogue of central defensive injuries, we have now achieved five clean sheets in six games – all with Dedryck in the team. He’s a leader.
Coming as it did during a form slump, last night’s League Cup quarterfinal was a worry, I could sense the triple treble disappearing in the Perthshire air. Lesser teams would have lost. But, we are through to semi against Hearts, which will be played either at Hampden, where we are imperious, or Murrayfield, scene of our memorable 3-0 victory over Legia Warsaw.
History turns on nights like that.