Jablonec are not a great team, but we faced a few who fall into that category since our last away win in February without scoring four goals and creating enough chances to easily double that. Ange Postecoglou continues to learn about his squad and unlike away to Mitjylland a week earlier, we were well prepared.
Yesterday I asked to “see more of [Liel Abada’s] timed runs into the box”. The evidence continues to arrive; Liel is a player who will score and create goals at a rate we have missed in recent seasons. This knack of arriving in the box and the right time, in the right place, before a cross arrives is golden. Think Alan Thompson at his lethal best.
Kyogo Furuhashi made the most of his full debut. The movement of the front three caused Joblonec problems and it was Kyogo’s movement that created the goal opportunity. Nir Bitton picked him out with a 30-yard pass, a pristine first touch and the deftest dink did the rest. As I heard from a teenager at the time, “That goal is a solid 9 out of 10”.
As anyone who watched the game, or caught John Hartson’s remarkable reaction, will know, the defence is still not right. We lost two dreadful goals. You will have noticed Carl Starfelt was the closest defender to both goalscorers when the ball went into the net. He did not start that way when the key forward passes were made.
For the first, Bitton was on his heels, body shape was wrong and Starfelt was left the impossible task of making up ground. The second goal was more of a structural problem.
Starfelt and Bitton were both marking strikers in the middle of the field and the full backs were in advanced positions when Celtic lost the ball. Ismaila Soro has covering duties but he was ball watching when the scorer made a run from deep.
We cannot leave two at the back against two attackers or we will see a lot more damage from similar deep runs. Although we can blame Soro for ball watching, we need to shape the team to accommodate what will inevitably happen during a game. Ismaila’s starting position was all wrong, he cannot get drawn into the role of supporting the player in possession at the cost of loitering deep.
It was great to see Joe Hart between the sticks and John Hartson was right, if a little hysterical, we still need defenders. Perhaps a few.
Would we have won so comfortably if Odsonne Edouard started? I’m not convinced.