Two weeks ago we spoke about the fine margins which determine results in the Champions League. Last night’s share of the points was a great example. While Borussia Monchengladbach were the better team at Celtic Park last month, they relied on two defensive errors to settle the game. Had Celtic stayed error free they may have won.
Last night we were error free (you could nit-pick about the Gladbach goal) and got a better result. A result which surprises on the upside or downside has the potential to overshadow an actual performance, but our point was deserved.
It didn’t look that way early on. Although Celtic defended comfortably for the first 15 minutes, we were unable to hold the ball. The abiding memory of that period is Tom Rogic with three black shirts around him the moment the ball arrived at his feet. Even long balls to the later-impressive Moussa Dembele were offering no relief.
We didn’t create anything the first time we got possession inside the Gladbach box, but this was the most important passage of play in the game. We retained possession for more than 20 passes, allowing players to settle, and perhaps giving Borussia more defensive duties to consider. At no point thereafter were we pinned back inside our own half.
Dembele had no right to get around the defender and into a shooting position at the penalty. He knocked the ball to the defender’s left and ran past him on his right, in the middle of the box. It took craft and strength. It’s been a while since we’ve had a striker who would have been capable of this kind of move.
Honourable mentions to Scotts Sinclair and Brown. Sinclair clearly worried the Gladbach defenders, who could only outnumber him when he drove deep into their half with the ball tied to his feet.
The most striking aspect of the performance was how we performed defensively. With squad players Emilio Izaguirre and Cristian Gamboa at full back and Mikael Lustig partnering Erik Sviatchenko in the middle you would be forgiven for worrying we might see the kind of disorganisation witnessed at the Camp Nou on match day one.
Instead we looked well-rehearsed, while Craig Gordon was back at his best.
Callum McGregor’s should have won all three points with a gilt-edged chance near the end. That could have made the difference between third and fourth in the group, but a win would have flattered us.