What warning signs there were, were observed. Last season Qarabag beat Salzburg (who then won at Celtic Park), drew home and away with Twente and Saint Etienne, drew at home with Inter, and beat Europa League finalists, Dnipro. Remotely disrespect their challenge, and you’d leave Baku empty handed.
I think we would be over-generous to either team to make too much of the chances on show. James Forrest had the goal at his mercy, before choosing to make a pass, which, if it got through the immediate defender, would have found a heavily marked Leigh Griffiths, but shots from distance don’t count. This was a game without real chances. It also provided some evidence that James Forrest’s confidence is not where it once was.
The defence scarcely put a foot out of place but the performance of Stefan Johansen and Scott Brown was pivotal to the outcome. Johansen disrupted Qarabeg high up the field, showing incredible energy levels in that heat. Scott Brown held a deeper position throughout and got himself in the way of Qarabag repeatedly.
We had nothing going forward. Gary Mackay-Steven was put on his bum a few times early on and looked to be suffering heat-exhaustion more than anyone else. Nadir Ciftci was isolated, again, but the hoped-for link play didn’t materialise. He needs a link player. That’s a problem for another day. Between now and then, you and I have a Champions League play-off draw to worry about. Once we know our fate we can worry about being more creative.
It was an absolute treat again to see the Celtic FC Foundation logo, this time on the first choice jersey. Magners could have put their bottled water brand there instead, but they get what this relationship with Celtic is all about. The help they’ve given our Mary’s Meals, school kitchen appeal is further evidence of this.
Our competition where you can win a Celtic third choice (bumblebee) top, courtesy of Mangers, closes at 14:00 THIS AFTERNOON. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the country Mary’s Meals have built four CQN school kitchens in the subject line of your message.
If you can cope with the excitement of also sending a £1 or £2 to the appeal while entering, you can do so here. Thank you.