ANTHONY RALSTON powered in a close-range header to throw Celtic a Europa League Group G lifeline in Seville last night.
However, the Hoops’ third goal against Real Betis was not enough to gain any sort of reward on an evening when they managed to let a two-goal lead slip as they collapsed in a defensive shocker with the home side rattling four efforts beyond the unprotected captain-for-the-night Joe Hart.
Ange Postecoglou’s side is still taking shape and it was obvious Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt were only playing alonside each other for the second time, a fact that was highlighted by the US international giving away a needless corner-kick from which the Spaniards drilled in their fourth and ultimately winning goal.
HEAD BHOY…Anthony Ralston thumps a header beyond rooted Real Betis keeper Claudio Bravo for Celtic’s third goal.
However, the 22-year-old full-back insisted the team are heading in the right direction and the players believe 100 pr cent in their Greek-Australia gaffer.
Albian Ajeti opened the scoring and Josip Juranovic added a penalty-kick before keeper Claudio Bravo managed to deny the impressive Filipe Jota of a third goal which would have put the visitors 3-0 ahead.
Then came the furious fightback that swept the Parkhead men to a loss in their opening game at the same time Bayer Leverkusen were defeating Ferencvaros 2-1 in Germany.
Ralston said: “It’s disappointing to lose the game as clearly our intention was to come here and try to win.
“We had a good start and managed to get ourselves into a two-goal lead and we were looking strong, but we lost that.
“The important thing was that we kept going and we dug in especially when Betis took the lead. We also managed to keep going to the very end so there are a lot of positives to take away from the game.
“We need to take that into the other European games as well as into the league.”
PUZZLED…Ange Postecoglou looks bewildered at the ‘no-goal’ call before VAR proved Albian Ajeti’s opener was valid.
Ralston, who claimed his third goal of the campaign against the Spanish cracks, continued: “I definitely feel that there’s a lot more to come from this group of players. We’ve got a quality team, on top of that we have the desire to go places and a strong belief in how the gaffer wants us to play.
“I feel we are implementing that. So, it’s important we continue to do that and believe in each other. We have to focus on each game and try to keep climbing and do what we can.
“It’s just important we keep to what we believe in and what we’re trying to do and I am sure we will be fine.”
Ralston, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “We had our chances we missed, but we need to look at the fact we’re creating them as another positive. In another day if we managed to take them then it’s a different result.
“It’s disappointing to lose the game, but we need to take all of those positives into the future.”