Celtic delivered a textbook performance in securing the win in Trondheim last night. Rosenborg are bottom of the group and were effectively out of the competition before kick-off, but only a year ago Anderlecht came to Glasgow after five Champions League defeats and wiped the floor with Celtic (Anderlecht remain a poor side, accruing only two points in a weak Europa League group this season).
This was Celtic’s third away win in European group stages, but the second in two seasons. If we have genuine ambition to progress in Europe, we needed to win games like last night’s.
The contrast between this performance and the one in the same stadium in Augusts’ qualifiers was stark. In the earlier game Celtic were poor in possession, unable to impose themselves on a Rosenborg team who needed a goal to draw the tie level. Instead we ground out a 0-0. Last night, the passing, pace and control from Celtic was vastly better. Rosenborg didn’t get a sniff.
James Forrest ended a spectacular month by creating the winning goal for Scott Sinclair. Scott still had plenty to do to guide his header into the top corner of the net.
Defensively Celtic were imperious. Any anxieties were limited to what potentially could happen when the home side were able to lob a set piece into the box, but chances were limited, giving Craig Gordon one of his easiest games on the road this season.
By full time, the players looked exhausted. My mind immediately turned to Aberdeen players, who will have watched from the comfort of their homes. It is easy to say, “Go again”, but players are not machines. Sunday will be the seventh time they have climbed the domestic mountain in succession.
Legs and minds will be tired. If Celtic lift the trophy at Hampden, heroics will be required. But this is Celtic, so we have hope in our hearts.