Progress will be about how we defend, penalties


There’s been a palpable sense of relief among all of us since Leigh Griffiths scored in Astana last midweek, but as Wednesday’s second leg draws nearer, the reality that our Champions League hopes are very much on the line is dawning.

Astana’s natural game in Europe is to defend and play on the break. They kept a clear sheet in Vilnius in the last round and conceded only twice on the road in last season’s three away qualifiers against Maribor, HJK Helsinki and APOEL Nicosia – decent qualifier opponents by any measure.

They will put two men on both Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths, and sit deep, hoping to draw Celtic into leaving space at the back. This is the exact scenario we lost out to otherwise inferior teams in Europe over the last two seasons. We enjoyed possession and territorial advantage (home and away) but were ripped open on the break.

Progress to the playoff round will be all about how well we defend.

The bulk of tomorrow’s training session should be set aside for the practice of penalty kicks. Celtic lose far too many penalty competitions, and despite legacy notions which persist in British football, penalties can be practiced. 10 players should hit at least 10 penalties each.

Dreadful news that Tommy Gemmell was hospitalised over the weekend. He’s been a great friend to CQN in recent years and I know we all send him our best wishes.

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  1. Was waiting for TG to get a mention in an article.


    Best wishes big man. Get well soon.HH.

  2. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    Penalties ?



    There will be no need for penalties.


    In this round.



    Leigh Griffiths deserves to be tested against the best.


    I fully expect he will be in the group stages.


    A seriously good striker.

  3. Afternoon all,



    Anyone any information on when we are signing players and who they are?



    Its getting ridiculous now!



    Hope TG recovers from his illness.



    P.s. still hungover after a great weekend in my home city watching Celtic with fellow CQNers who travelled from Glasgow.



    Hail Hail






    I fully expect a big bid for him from somewhere before the transfer window shuts. We should improve his wages and extend his contract, now not then.

  5. MoonbeamsWD on 31st July 2016 12:48 pm











    How’s the Bhoy?











    just seen your post MWD


    He is doing well,has to go back on friday to see if bones have stayed in position after his operation,if not they will operate again and pin his arm but thing looking good so far and he is playing us all like old fiddles:)))


    thank you for asking D

  6. Paul67


    I’m not too concerned about penalties. I’d rather we spend a good number of hours practising defending free kicks and corners.


    I’m certain we will score twice at least. The only banana skin, for me, would be us getting undone at set pieces.


    Get that sorted and it’s game over.

  7. Exhibition game or not, Barca was interesting. Izzy’s not done. Eoghan’s coming on nice.


    Ciftci could be our left midfield grafter. In beside Brown, Rogic and Bitton.


    As for Moussa….coughs.

  8. From the end of last article





    Big Georges Fan Club – Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on 1st August 2016 11:14 am




    Hello this is WEE BGFC. Once again, despite taking every ticket that comes our way, we have been given no tickets for the Hearts away game coming up. DOES ANYONE HAVE 2 SPARES FOR THE GAME ON SUNDAY please.
















    till later all

  9. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    Hello this is WEE BGFC. Cheers left click






  10. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on

    Who stole my standing area places for Wednesday


    Had to purchase and print 2 tickets this morning. Easy peasy

  11. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    Hello this is WEE BGFC. HI DAD! She was still in her pit at the time! Me and her are going to Glasgow for her harry potter thing! See you when you get back from work! Love you!








  12. TWISTS N TURNS I’m with you!



    Someone show Craig Gordon some videos of the Holy Goalie barking orders at his defence and getting ready to clump them when it doesn’t go as he said!



    Show the defence the Astana goal and the 2nd Barcelona goal and explain how (by simply talking) they can be cut out!



    Show Broony some videos of Roy Keane ready to commit GBH on the field with his own players who aren’t pulling their weight.



    None of it is rocket science. Football is a very simple game – keep possession, pass it to your own players, put the ball in the net. If you lose the ball, win it back, keep possession ….



    Roll on Wednesday!

  13. mullet and co 2 on

    Havering about coming up for the Astana game. The £ could be better spent on the weans school uniform rather than put the money into Celtic for the custodians to pull a profit.


    I would of course be happy for them to take that profit if it looked as though they were at least trying.

  14. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    OK pal – have fun spending your Celtic Voucher in the Celtic Shop too!



    Leftclick – that’s very nice of you re-posting the wee man’s post – many thanks.



    We’ll drive up to Edinburgh on Sunday in any case, but its been very slim pickings trying to get spares at Tynecastle the last few games since they halved our allocation.






  15. macjay1 for Neil Lennon on

    BARNEY67 on 1ST AUGUST 2016 12:17 PM






    I fully expect a big bid for him from somewhere before the transfer window shuts. We should improve his wages and extend his contract, now not then.






    A sound proposal.


    His loyalty and his patience for a place in Ronny`s team ( Jeez !!!!!! ) , not to mention his ability , merit financial recognition.

  16. Talk about managing expecations eh? Prepare for penalties against the might Astana. Meanwhile lets not talk about the stunning (but expected) lack of transfer activity at CP.



    Is CQN the evening shark jump of the celtic on line community?



    In other news nice to see attempts to remove the OB act – but met with this delightful response from the SNP:



    “The Offensive Behaviour Act – which has proved to be an effective tool in reducing crimes of racial, religious and sexual discrimination – has the support of 80% of the public and the overwhelming majority of football fans.”



    An effective tool? Really? Where?

  17. All this penalty talk I defeatist nonsense.


    If we play to our abilities we will win and win easily.



    If we phone it in and just pass to our pals we will get gubbed.


    We do not look a happy bunch on the park at the moment.



    BR work your magic, get some self belief into the team.


    We desperately need some energy and work rate in the MF.


    SB / CMcG / StA — That combo will lose us the game.


    Playing MD and LG together is another waste of a jersey.



    Interested to see the set up


    Not very good at this but I would go 3 – 4 – 3.



    ML / KT / EO’C



    SB / TR / NB / StA



    PR / LG / RC or JF at a push.



    We have enough talent in the squad.


    Just a case that we are a little unbalanced at the moment.

  18. @celticwiki



    Benfica 3-0 Celtic (AET)



    (Agg 3-3; Celtic won on the toss of a coin)



    (Eusebio 35, Graca 40, Diamantino 90)



    Although the talk from the Benfica camp after the first match was that Eusebio would be out for three weeks, he duly lined up for the second leg. Only 50,000 of the expected 80,000 fans had turned up, such was the overwhelming nature of Celtic’s first leg victory.



    However, Benfica were a changed side from the first match and came roaring at the Hoops from early on.



    Celtic’s hero was keeper John Fallon who pulled off a series of near miraculous saves to keep Benfica at bay. Jorge hit the post before Fallon held a rocket from Eusebio in the 21st minute. It was clear the side from Lisbon were by no means out of the tie.



    In the 35th minute they got their reward for their constant pressure when a Eusebio header put them one up. A few minutes later Graca went through the Celtic defence on his own, dispatching the ball into goal from off the post.



    Two-nil Benfica and the contrast of the tie had changed completely.



    The next bit of action saw Bertie Auld on the receiving end of a bad tackle. A melee followed and Jimmy Johnstone was butted by Silva. The referee decided to take no action and the situation, which looked likely to boil over, quickly settled down.



    The second half brought about the early retirement of Eusebio, who was replaced by Martins.


    Jimmy Johnstone missed Celtic’s best chance of the match. Jinky found himself with only keeper Henrique to beat, but the man nicknamed Z’Gato, came racing out of his goal to make the save.



    Celtic managed to play with more poise and cohesion as the second half progressed. They began to show more attacking prowess, although their Portuguese opponents were never less than threatening.



    With Celtic desperately clinging on to their one goal aggregate lead deep into injury time, the men from the Stadium of Light were awarded a corner kick. Substitute Diamantino, a different proposition from his lacklustre first leg display, headed the subsequently crossed ball into the Celtic net. As he did so the referee blew for full-time. Players and fans were uncertain for a moment if the goal would stand; several Celtic defenders were positive that the game was over before the kick was taken.



    The delirious Benfica supporters were in no confusion however as they poured onto the pitch. At this point Laurens Van Ravens, the Dutch referee, led the teams off the field and into the dressing room. Police and soldiers had to come on to the pitch in order to clear it of spectators. Five minutes after the ball had hit the net it was announced the scoreline was 3-all and the game was into extra time.



    Celtic’s players and the Scottish media were baffled by the three minutes plus of injury time played. With no major injuries throughout the game, this was an unusually long time to add. Extra-time was played out with no further goals and some match reports indicate that the second period was actually brought to a close one minute early.



    In 1969 a drawn tie was not settled by a penalty shoot-out. The deadlock would be broken by the tossing of a coin. The normal practice in this situation was for the referee to lead the two captains to the centre circle, toss the coin into the air so that instantly the spectators would see from the triumphant captain’s reaction who had progressed. It was obvious to all in attendance this night that Van Ravens had a cavalier manner all of his own and so it was as he executed this task.



    He took the two captains, Celtic’s Billy McNeill and Mario Coluna of Benfica, into his dressing room. Their respective managers went with them. The two linesmen and a handful of pressmen also squeezed into the cramped room, while club officials packed the corridors of Estadio da Luz.



    The ref asked the Celtic captain to call. McNeill revealed years later in his autobiography “Hail Cesar”, that on this occasion his stomach was churning and he felt that he would “rather be anywhere else at that moment”. He turned to his manager and asked him what he should call. Stein’s reported reply was “You’re on your own.”



    McNeill called “heads” and won the toss. The referee then informed him this was just to see which of the captains would have the right to spin the coin. He handed the Scotsman the silver Dutch 2 guilder piece to toss into the air to determine which club would win the tie. “I stuck with my hunch and called heads again,” McNeill said in “Hail Cesar”.



    The coin landed on the floor, rolled, hit the referee’s foot and lay still. As everyone bent down to get a look the Celtic captain punched the air when he saw he had made the right call. “When I spun the coin,” McNeill said to reporters later, “I couldn’t believe that I would win again. But I did and it was the greatest relief of my life.”



    McNeill was allowed to keep the coin, worth six shillings in pre-decimal Britain, as a souvenir.



    The 50,000 people on the terraces waited anxiously for the outcome. When the message came back that Celtic had progressed to the quarter-finals the Scots in the crowd went wild, while some Portuguese supporters openly wept.



    Elsewhere in the European Cup that same night Turkey’s Galatasaray also won on the toss of a coin, knocking out Spartak Trnava of Czechoslovakia after a 1-1 aggregate draw.



    On the chartered plane back to Glasgow Celtic’s Chairman Sir Robert Kelly told of his displeasure of winning such an important tie by these means. He indicated that Celtic would press UEFA to have new legislation introduced.



    “We won this toss and this is the right time to take up the case,” he said. “It is a most unsatisfactory way to end such a vital tie in any competition. Certainly we would not have said anything about this if we had lost the toss to Benfica. But now that we are through, perhaps our words will carry some weight.”



    Several years earlier, as president of the Scottish Football Association, Sir Robert, then plain Bob Kelly, made a complaint to UEFA about the practice of coin tosses settling ties.



    “Tossing a coin is not part of the game,” he continued, “But corner kicks are. I feel that the team with the most corner kicks in extra time should be the winners. If the teams are equal, corners gained during the whole game should count.”



    At this point in time that system was already in use in the Glasgow Charity Cup.



    Manager Jock Stein was relieved to have made it through to the Quarter-Finals but was disappointed with the performance. “I thought we could have played much better,” he told reporters after the match. “We became careless after the first 30 minutes. A team of our European experience should not have lost the second goal, scored by Graca by the old one-two.”



    Despite the win this trip to Lisbon was not as happy for Celtic as their 1967 visit had been. On the coach journey back to the hotel, six Celtic players and one official discovered that they had been robbed of money, from their clothes left in the dressing room during the match.

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