Ryan Christie is back to his very best. His movement, vision and assists are a significant reason Celtic have scored so freely in recent weeks. Added to the form of Callum Mcgregor, Albian Ajeti, Jeremie Frimpong and Olivier Ntcham, and Celtic have the basis of a dangerous team.
I had no complaints about Livingston’s penalty, defenders tuck their arms in when blocking inside the box and Kris Ajer could have done likewise. No complaints either about the penalty Christie claimed 40 seconds earlier; no player tucks their arms in after they are on the ground. Responding to going behind by scoring twice in six minutes is the mark of champions.
The second Livingston goal and the surrender of territory in the closing moments of the game were more troubling. There was a bit of movement on the ball but it did not get close to Vasilis Barkas’ post. It was saveable. Still, the keeper would be entitled to ask why Serrano was given so much time and space.
Having conceded an unfortunate goal that brought Livi to within another pot shot of taking a point, a team at the bottom of the league should never have got near our six yard box in the closing stages of the game. Their chance in added time would have been a goal were it not for the fact that this was clearly substitute Pignatiello’s first time attempting to header a football. So far, defensive fragilities have ‘only’ cost us Champions League qualification but the bill will grow if we continue to offer up so much space in the final third.
Friday’s article, Applying and Coping with Pressure, discussed what impact the potential of Celtic going top of the table on Saturday would have on Newco ahead of their visit to Easter Road on Sunday. Having given themselves a chance to ‘go 11 points clear of Celtic’ last month, Newco are only a point ahead having played one game more after yesterday’s draw against Hibs.
Neil Lennon and the Celtic players have seen this movie before. They know how to win leagues, uniquely so, in Scotland. Coping with reversals and exploiting opportunities is the attribute of the aforementioned champions.