MATT O’RILEY insists Celtic proved their place among football’s A-listers after their performance against European kings Real Madrid at Parkhead on Tuesday night.
However, the smooth playmaker also admits frustration at the scoreline that shows the Spanish superstars leaving Glasgow with a 3-0 triumph to kick off Champions League Group F with three points.
Ange Postecoglou’s men had nothing tangible to show for their considerable endeavours against Carlo Ancelotti’s team of all talents apart from the ringing endorsement from the fans at a packed sporting arena in the east end of Glasgow to emphasise their backing of what the manager and his players are striving to achieve.
CELTIC VIEWS…Matt O’Riley meets the media to give his thoughts of the Hoops’ Champions League opener.
O’Riley, who put in a solid shift before making way in the 72nd minute for Aaron Mooy, said: “We’ve proven we can compete at this level. There are fine margins, obviously. But the result doesn’t show that.
“I feel as though we were very in the game, we’ve just got to be a bit more ruthless. That’s what we’ve got to learn.”
The Danish Under-21 international midfielder, who had just played for MK Dons in a 1-1 draw with Cheltenham in the English third tier this time last year, realises the team and the fans are on a special journey.
The Hoops followers remained long after the final whistle to applaud Postecoglou and his troops to underline their belief.
O’Riley continued: “We don’t know how big a club we are. Our supporters, it’s like one of the biggest clubs in the world, so we want to repay them by competing against these teams and actually winning games like this.
“I think we’ve proven we can if we’re just a little bit more ruthless, have that bit more cutting edge in the final third.
“That’s just the difference. The reception we got from the fans was unbelievable, even after the game.
THANKS, FANS…Giorgos Giakoumakis and Kyogo Furuhashi lead the players in their applause for the Celtic support after their relentless vocal backing against Real Madrid.
“We lost 3-0, but it almost felt like we’d won the game, that was the kind of support we got. That was cool from them.
“In my opinion the game could’ve been very different. We know how good a side they are, they control the game really well.
“But I think they only controlled it once they took the lead. If we took the first goal – and I think the first goal was massive – then it could’ve been a different matter.
“The first 55 minutes or so, I’d say we were the better team in terms of the better chances. But, it was a lesson for us.
“There’s loads to learn for us, including for me personally. It just shows the difference at the very top level, they’re just so ruthless.
“We obviously can compete with these teams, we’ve proven that. But the result didn’t show that and it was disappointing.”
As promised by the manager, the Scottish champions did not vary their approach against arguably the best club side in the world and were out of luck when captain Callum McGregor clattered the inside of the Real post in the 21st minute.
OH NO…Ange Postecoglou can’t hide his disappointment during the match against the European champions.
Liel Abada should have done so much better with an opening in the seventh minute after a breathtaking through pass from Fillipe Jota when he carelessly fired a shot straight into the grateful arms of keeper Thibaut Courtois with plenty of his goal to aim at.
Daizen Maeda, who had taken over from the out-of-touch Israeli winger at the interval, then completely fluffed his lines from eight yards after being set up with a driven pass from Josip Juranovic.
With a little bit of fortune and a bit more accuracy in the final effort, those opportunities would have been converted into goals on another evening.
O’Riley, speaking to the Daily Record, commented: “I said before the game that we were going to approach it the same way we do every game. First five, 10 minutes we were flying. The crowd was behind us, we were playing our usual football.
“For the most part we did, although at times we were a little too eager to play forward in the final third. That’s where they better than us at times, just managing the game a little bit more.
“But, again, it’s a lot to learn. We can watch bits from them that we can add to our game. as well. There are positives.”
FIST OF GLORY…Matt O’Riley celebrates a goal in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Parkhead on May 7 as Celtic head for last season’s title success.
O’Riley added: “When I came off I reflected on some of their players.
“I thought Luka Modric was very good. For a guy at 37 to still be that good is impressive. It’s obviously nice to share a pitch with someone like that.
“And, to be honest, just to test yourself against that kind of opposition is what it’s all about.
“I felt we did for a large part of the game, that’s I feel so frustrated with the outcome.
”There’s definitely a lot of things we could’ve done better.
“But I also feel there were a lot of things we did well. And on Saturday against Livingston we’ll just be our usual selves.
“We were not down in the changing room. We’re just frustrated because it just felt we could’ve got a lot more from it.
“And our process will still be the same. We’ll reflect on, it we’ll watch the clips back and see what we could’ve done better.”
Celtic’s European odyssey continues against Shakhtar Donetsk – 4-1 upstart winners over RB Leipzig on Tuesday – in the Polish capital of Warsaw on Wednesday.
O’Riley and his team-mates are ready to step onto soccer’s most glamorous and lucrative rollercoaster for the second time.