Despite the slenderest margins between the teams over two legs, Rosenborg failed to lay a glove in earnest on Celtic in Trondheim last night. James Forrest, who likes a goal in the qualifiers, connected wonderfully with a shot from a right angle which was visible only on rebounding off the back of the net.
In a sign of things to come, Celtic were composed in possession, even deep inside their own box. This desire to take a touch and find a pass wasn’t entirely successful. Rosenborg pressed high regularly, forcing Craig Gordon into unmeasured passes to the wing.
Kieran Tierney was magnificent, especially in the first half, when he maintained a high position on the left. This gave Celtic their most reliable route to attack.
Rosenborg sprung forward at halftime, causing Celtic some consternation for a period, although Gordon was never stretched. Brendan Rodgers had the luxury of bringing Leigh Griffiths off the bench; Celtic didn’t look back.
Don’t think things are going to ease up. That 1-0 aggregate score saw us enter the final minutes able to concede once without the threat of elimination. That wasn’t the case in either the third or fourth qualifying rounds last season. I hope we’re back in the afternoons for penalty practice.
While we are one tie away from the Champions League group stage, we are also on the brink of making it out of Pot 4. If Sevilla, Napoli, Liverpool or Olympiacos exit the competition and Celtic progress, we will be in Pot 3 for the group stage. Olympiacos are in the champions section of the draw alongside Celtic, but they went out of the competition to Haopel Be’re Shiva last season, who lie in wait again this term.
Sevilla, Napoli and Liverpool are all in the non-champions group, where tasty opponents Nice and Hoffenheim await in the non-seeded section. Sevilla make a Gaudi-esque art form of going out of the Champions League in the qualifiers, to let them concentrate on their main purpose in life – dominating the Europa League. If we take care of our own business there’s a decent chance we’ll move up the rankings.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to our Mary’s Meals appeal yesterday, and to Intelligent Car Leasing, who made the magnificent offer of 4 hospitality tickets for Saturday’s league opener against Hearts. The winner was informed by email a few minutes ago – so check!