ANGE POSTECOGLOU is “buzzing” after Celtic’s 4-2 win over Banik Ostrava – and the Hoops boss reckons his players are ready to hit the ground running when the competitive action kicks off.
The champions hoisted their strike rate to 14 goals in three games in Austria and the Czech Republic with Kyogo Furuhashi, Matt O’Riley, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Liel Abada on target in their last encounter before they play Blackburn Rovers at Parkhead on Saturday.
The Greek-Australian gaffer watched his side ease to a 7-0 victory over Austrian Third Division outfit Weiner Viktoria last week and draw 3-3 with Rapid Vienna at the weekend before coming back to seal another triumph in their opponents’ centenary confrontation.
It’s been all systems go as Celtic prepare for the action to begin with the opening Premiership match of the season against Aberdeen on Flag Day in the east end of Glasgow a fortnight on Sunday.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP…Ange Postecoglou ponders on the win in the Czech Republic. Image courtesy Celtic TV.
Asked for a reaction after the solid win against the Czechs, Postecoglou answered: “Yeah, buzzing. Great to hear these guys sing, but our guys will bring it to another level, so I’m looking forward to that.
“It was a cracking atmosphere and they’re still going! Obviously, it was a big occasion for the club and it’s great for us to be a part of it.
“It gave the feel of a real contest. It was a great exercise for our guys. The game was okay, we started a bit slow and, in general, we were a bit sloppy with our passing.”
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “The flipside of that is we had some good moments. It was another good game for us. The key thing is we’ve got some training in and most of the guys have got decent match minutes and we’ve got no significant injuries.
“From that point of view, it’s been a really good camp. The players have come back in with a good attitude.
“The dressing room still feels like it’s got a lot of energy, which is great.”
NUMBER ONE…Kyogo Furuhashi tucks away the pass from James Forrest.
NUMBER TWO…Matt O’Riley sends his curling shot high into the net.
NUMBER THREE…Giorgos Giakoumakis thumps the ball wide of the stranded Czech keeper.
NUMBER FOUR…Liel Abada slams in the rebound to round off the scoring.
The Hoops were taken on the back foot when their rivals opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Josip Juranovic, in his first pre-season outing, was slow to react to a diagonal pass into the box and Eidar Sehic knocked the ball beyond the stranded Joe Hart.
Postecoglou’s men were level inside six minutes when James Forrest cut the ball back from the right and Kyogo whipped in a low shot from eight yards.
In the 24th minute, O’Riley conjured up a second goal with a curling effort from the edge of the box beyond the helpless keeper after a nice pass from David Turnbull.
In the 48th minute, the visitors claimed a third goal when Abada and Ralston combined to set up Giakoumakis for a trademark one-touch finish.
CAP STAR…Joe Hart shields his eyes in the sunshine.
The Czechs, though, claimed a second goal when they broke swiftly on the counter-attack in the 71st minute and Muhamed Tijani slotted a drive beyond substitute keeper Benji Siegrist.
The celebrations lasted a mere three minutes before Scotland’s title winners restored their two-goal advantage.
Giakoumakis had a shot from the edge of the area pushed away by the Banik Ostrava netminder, but Abada seized onto the rebound to tuck away a close-range effort.
Now all eyes are on Parkhead on Saturday with a 12.30pm kick-off when the Ewood Park side provide the opposition as Postecoglou’s men return to Glasgow for the new campaign.
TEAM: Hart (sub: Siegrist 65), Juranovic (sub: Ralston 46), Carter-Vickers (sub: Jullien 60), Welsh (sub: Lawal 60), Taylor (sub: Bernabei 46); McGregor (sub: McCarthy 60), Turnbull (sub: Johnston 60), O’Riley (sub: Ideguchi 46), Jota (sub: Maeda 46), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 46), Forrest (sub: Abada 46). Unused subs: Bain, Oluwayemi, Ajeti, Kenny, Urhoghide, Vata.