ANGE POSTECOGLOU watched his Celtic beat Charlton 2-1 for his second successive victory in the closed-doors friendly in Newport this afternoon.
And then the new Hoops boss insisted his team must “improve on EVERYTHING” as they prepare for the Champions League second round qualifier against FC Midtjylland with the first leg due in Glasgow a week on Tuesday with the return in Denmanrk eight days later.
Neil Lennon’s successor saw goals from Karmako Dembele and Albian Ajeti gave the Parkhead outfit a half-time advantage, but sloppy defensive play allowed ex-Hearts striker Connor Washington to pull one back.
The manager frowned as he witnessed the intensity which he demands dropping in the second period, but he was satisfied with a win.
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, said: “It was okay. It was another pre-season game, the first-half was quite good, we controlled the game pretty well. Second-half, we got a little bit stretched and chaotic.
CELTIC VIEWS…Ange Postecoglou gives his match verdict to Celtic TV.
“To be fair, for a lot of these guys, it’s their first game for quite a while, but they worked hard and I guess that’s the main thing.
“I think this was just mainly some match minutes in the boys’ legs, some of them haven’t played for quite a while and looked rusty in terms of their touch, but that’ll come.
“We’re working hard at training as well which probably has an effect on them in terms of fatigue for the games, but the most important thing for me is they’re trying to do the things we’re talking about and as long as we do that we can progress.”
Asked what he feels his side need to do to step up, he answered: “We’ve got to improve on everything.
“It’s only beginnings for us, so all we can focus on is day-to-day a little bit of improvement, there’s another game coming up against Bristol City and we’ll build toward that.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Callum McGregor congratulates Karamoko Dembele on the opening goal.
“Hopefully, we’ll improve our performance a little bit from today. Like I said, they all worked hard. For me, what’s more important is seeing the intent of the whole team.
“We’re trying to keep the ball, we’re trying to be aggressive. When we lost the ball I thought we had a better shape – particularly in the first-half – in terms of being compact.
“So those are the key things.”
The Hoops started well and captain Callum McGregor sent Adam Montgomery away on the wing, but his low cross was just missed by Dembele. Ajeti was out of luck, too, when he rounded the keeper, but saw his finishing effort scrambled away by defence.
Birthday Bhoy David Turnbull, who turned 22 today, nearly scored when he ran on to Greg Taylor’s pass, but his shot flew narrowly wide.
The breakthrough came in the 24th minute when Dembele pounced on the rebound of a Montgomery cross to fire low into the corner of the net for a deserved goal.
ON THE RUN…captain Callum McGregor piles on the pressure.
A second goal arrived five minutes before the break. Anthony Ralston showed a fabulous turn of pace on the right and his floated cross was neatly headed by Ajeti beyond the helpless netminder.
The second half saw multi changes and Mikey Johnston looked lively on the left and he almost increaed the lead with a curling drive thumped against a post and bounced to safety.
The English third-tier outfit pulled one back when Washington slid an effort beyond Scott Bain in the 76th minute, but the Hoops keeper produced a superb save in the fading moments when he managed to get a hand to a drive from the same player that looked destined for the back of the net.
FIRST TEAM: Barkas, Taylor, Bitton, Ajeti, Soro, Turnbull, McGregor, Montgomery, Ralston, Welsh, Dembele.
SECOND TEAM: Bain, Christie, Johnston, Ntcham, Edouard, Urhoghide, Shaw, Murray, Henderson, Montgomery, Hjelde.