What went right for Celtic?


After a performance like that, the most important question is, what went right? The most important aspect of the game, was the clean sheet. Dorus de Vries was only called upon to make one save, on the 14th minute, but it was by far the best chance of the game and the keeper did exactly what was required.

The regularity with which the ball left Dorus’ feet and landed on Moussa Dembele’s chest will also have occurred to you. This was the best we have played out from the back all season.

As the game progressed I was getting anxious about how long is left on Kris Ajer’s contract. He’s still a teenager, but what a player! We waited 40 years for a young tier one defender to emerge and then two come along at the same time.

Brendan changed the format, went with a back three, dropped Sinclair, his top scorer and flooded the middle of the park, which allowed Celtic to control the game. Think how many times you saw Callum McGregor in possession and being huckled by one or more opponents, but having an option of a short and easy pass. Contrast this with the complete lack of options we had on the ball at Rugby Park, or even last weekend against Partick.

Olivier Ntcham had his best game for Celtic and was my Man of the Match. He is unrecognisable from the player who arrived from Manchester City in the summer.

Dropping Scott Sinclair from such an important game was a huge managerial decision. Scott was everyone’s Player of the Year last season and a big money deal for Celtic. So far, so ballsy, from Brendan Rodgers, but he opted to give the spare slot to Eboue Kouassi, who has left his teens since Zenit played their last league game, and who many had written off as recently as Christmas.

The flicker of whatever the scouts saw in the 10 or so career games Eboue played before Celtic parted with £3m for him came into full bloom last night. His tenacity, speed and composure on the ball was arresting.

James Forrest sits in pole position for this season’s Player of the Year. Few defenders can cope with his pace and Zenit’s were no different. Despite his positive influence last night, less of our play goes through him than I would like. Due to the peerless Tierney, we have a left-side bias.

Within two minutes it was clear Moussa was on better form than he has been in months (which gives us another issue to ponder). He did not get on the score sheet, but he was an effective out ball, brought others into the game, and played his part on the goal. His late replacement, Odsonne Edouard, looked every inch the €10m player PSG value him as.

And what about the goal. Charly Musonda’s slight frame has looked a tad fragile since arriving on loan last month, but last night was a lightbulb moment. We got to see what all the fuss is about with this young player.

The chance was created near the halfway line, when he drew three Zenit players towards him before igniting the move with a disguised slip to Ntcham. Seconds later, Charly was inside the box to collect a difficult bouncing ball from Dembele and hung it in the air for Callum McGregor. This run was a lung-buster.

Callum had to leap to catch the ball at the top of his chest. With no time to allow it to settle, he needed to position himself for a snapshot. McGregor took the plaudits for his goal, but this was a worthy accolade for a player who was involved throughout but struggled in recent months to find his early season form.

On another day, we would not have got the win we deserved. On another day, we would have lost a goal to Zenit’s only chance, but last night Celtic had all the answers. It was a fantastic performance from every player. We have a squad and a system which is capable and worthy of winning a second consecutive treble, and reaching deeper into the Europa League. And in case it slipped your mind, Gordon, Compper, Hendry, Boyata, Bitton, Ralston, Miller, Armstrong, Rogic, Sinclair, Roberts, Hayes and Griffiths were all missing last night.

We’ll talk about EBT McLeish another time. I’m not letting missing governance standards at the SFA darken my mood.

And Peter, get Kris tied up.

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    Huge crowd. Players well-motivated,many playing for their places,all playing for their manager.



    I pointed out when the draw was made that they were in close-season,that also helped.



    But nothing made last night like the players did. They were magnificent!

  2. Agreed get the handcuffs on Ajer. Thats the trouble when you play well in a European game, it alerts all the vultures. HH

  3. Still buzzin after last nights performance,great composure and technique from Callum at his goal,here’s hoping we produce the same kind of performance next week and finish the job



  4. RThere was not one single weakness in the team. The uncertainty at the back from the likes of Lustig and Jozo has been replaced with a confidence that was missing for months. I think DDV may be a big part of the reason for that. However, havin a busy , inventive and industious midfield helped too. Moussa was fantastic throughout- always eager for the ball.



    Top marks to BR, many have questioned his tactics and competence at this level but he called it perfectly last night, especially in his substitutions. He deserves great praise for learning from heavy defeats to superior teams.



    Next week wil be tough, but we’ve given ourselves a bloody good chance here.




  5. What went right is that Celtic played very well and Zenit didn’t.



    The only concern is that for all the domination, only one goal was scored.

  6. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    First class performance from players and management.


    Callum MOM for me, but could have been several others.


    Would like to see James add crossing to his game. All strikers like an early ball delivered to them. Would also get his opponents in two minds as to what to defend, making his dribbles more difficult to defend.


    Still a big task ahead of us, but we have given ourselves a decent chance.

  7. Agree re Ajer, get him signed up now.



    I honestly couldn’t give any of our players less than 9 out of 10 for their performance last night.



    Super stuff.




  8. thomthethim for Oscar OK on



    I think I may have lied about my vandalised car incident.





    It was 1970!





    Sorry for misleading the blog.

  9. Great to see big Moussa back on form, i think we found a new position for McGregor, never seen him playing so far forward, dropping in to spaces behind their MF, and linking the play, how much do you get for a win in the EL?

  10. Ntcham 21


    Kouassi just turned 20






    Simunovic 23




    Musonda 19



  11. I was at a jazz concert last night and invariably when you book for something well in advance you can be almost certain it’s going to clash with some other event you want to see and so it was with the game last night. Getting home late I ended up watching the game into the early hours of the morning – you just could not leave it such was the wonderful atmosphere of the spectators and the performance of Celtic.



    Celtic simply and utterly both physically and with superior mental sharpness dominated their Russian opponents and anything else but a victory would have been a travesty. What a pity Griff was missing as I am certain he would have put away at least one of those early chances in the game. The improvisation of Charly, Dembele and Calum that resulted in the all important winning score was on a par with the great musicians I had just watched earlier in the night.



    When Ntcham decides to play he is just impossible to knock off the ball and the sheer bull strength of the lad and his choice of pass is a joy to behold although some of his set-piece deliveries can improve. Calum can expect to be a marked man in the return leg but overqall a great team performance.

  12. Do you ever feel like swearing at a work colleague? Does the occasional missed chance, pass, tackle, cross drive you to scream obscenities at the unfortunate Hoops clad perpetrator? Does the scandal of Celtic stashing £30m in an undeclared Swiss bank account drive you to a stream of profanity …or possibly were you just brought up in cold heart of Bridgeton and not really know any better….well here’s a wee primer to help you in moments of stress or for unfortunate Bridgtonians, when you need to converse with people who speak English…..






    Hail Hail




  13. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    !!BADA BING!! on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 12:49 PM


    Great to see big Moussa back on form, i think we found a new position for McGregor, never seen him playing so far forward, dropping in to spaces behind their MF, and linking the play, how much do you get for a win in the EL?





    BB – not sure re: cash – but I think someone posted earlier re: the additional 2 coefficient points we get, which may be worth more in the long run.






  14. Many of my customers have noticed that my voice is a wee bit hoarse this morning. It’s been very gratifying telling them why, but you’d have thought that the Celtic TV clip of the goal running on a loop in the background would have given them a clue…



    Grabbed a couple of cheeseburgers at the McD’s drivethru beside the Forge after the game, parked the car and settled down to listen to the end of the radio programme. 15 minutes later, turned the key to start up…had left the lights on. Battery flat.



    Thanks to the three Hoops fans who gave us a push start. It would have been a long walk back to Dundee in the rain.

  15. Each of the 48 clubs that feature in the group stage can expect to receive a group stage fee of €2.6m. There will also be performance bonuses of €360,000 for every win and €120,000 for every draw in the group stage. Moreover, qualification bonuses will be allotted to the teams that progress to the round of 32: the group winners can anticipate earning €600,000 apiece and the runners-up €300,000 each.



    With regard to the knockout phase, sides competing in the round of 32 will collect €500,000 each, clubs in the round of 16 €750,000, the quarter-finalists €1m and the semi-finalists €1.6m apiece. The UEFA Europa League winners will pick up €6.5m and the runners-up €3.5m.



    From UEFA

  16. There was some discussion earlier about Co-Ef points. So I thought I’d go and check. From what I can see from the UEFA site last night’s game has ZERO impact on Co-Ef it looks as if we will only get an extra point should we come through the tie next week. The individual games don’t seem to be factored in. Unless I am missing something.



    “UEFA Europa League points system


    First qualifying round elimination – 0.25 points


    Second qualifying round elimination – 0.5 points


    Third qualifying round elimination – 1 point


    Play-off elimination – 1.5 points


    Group stage win – 2 points


    Group stage draw – 1 point



    Clubs are also guaranteed a minimum of two points if they reach the group stage and are awarded an additional point if they get to the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final.



    *Penalty shoot-outs do not affect the calculation system.”

  17. The Blogger Formerly Known As GM on

    Well, who saw that coming?



    Had you tuned in this time yesterday Celtic were on the receiving end of more blows than a piece of wood in a Bob the Builder cartoon!!



    Bitton ‘blow’, Gordon (still) a ‘blow’, BR saying Celtic ‘will never win another European trophy’ (supposedly) and my favourite ‘Brendan Rogers UNDER PRESSURE for the first time’ said by none other than Chris Sutton (did I hear him right?)



    Oh well. I suppose we just got lucky that we drew a team in the midst of their winter break and there’s always a chance of a ‘European hangover’ on Sunday. Then I’m sure there will be plenty new blows by Thursday.



    What a terrible time to be a Celtic supporter.

  18. Glad the return is this coming Thursday and not in a fortnight – momentum is important



    Don’t think they have a league game this weekend

  19. Seen 1916 i looked it up and it appeals that you get two coeffient points for group win and all wins when progress in europa league. But dont know how that effects us moving forward, think we would need a little bit more, also get 500k for our game from eufa




  20. Bada Bing


    With regard to the knockout phase, sides competing in the round of 32 will collect €500,000 each, clubs in the round of 16 €750,000, the quarter-finalists €1m and the semi-finalists €1.6m apiece. The UEFA Europa League winners will pick up €6.5m and the runners-up €3.5m.


    Genuine question.


    We are 500000k richer. If we qualify for the next round, do we get an additional 750000k on top of the already banked 500000k (giving us 1.25m) or just an additional 250000k (total of 750000)?



  21. PH- that is prize money per round, go through next week, another 750k plus gate money, new pitch was paid last night…:)) HH

  22. STEPHBHOY on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 1:28 PM



    Cheers STEPHBHOY, I did wonder if i had maybe missed something, what i appeared to be reading on the site didn’t seem to suggest this

  23. What is the Stars on

    Who would win a football fight between



    De Vries,Lustig,Simunovic,Ajer,Tierney,Forrest Ntcham,Brown,Eboussai,McGregor,Dembele







    When you decide….then swap Brown and Tierney into the 2nd 11 and think about it again.


    Hayes and Bitton can be subs for both teams

  24. glendalystonsils on

    Paul, I agree with most of your assessment . I too would make Ntcham MOTM but for one thing………his delivery from wide.


    Doesn’t stop me walking about with a big grin today though!

  25. Meanwhile, over on F###witF###wit, they appear to be buying their delusion amplifier dials from the same company that supplied Spinal Tap. This one appears to be turned up to 12…









    Active Member Joined: Sep 30, 2017 Messages: 105 Trophy Points: 28



    Zenit are a very poor team, we would beat them comfortably at Ibrox. No doubt the fenians will be going wild at this result but it’s no great feat.






    Now I understand that 40,000 attendances at Mordor are only 20,000 Huns – the other half made up by ‘Responsible Adults’/Care workers/ ‘Somebody to sit with you’…

  26. mild mannered Pedro delgado on

    Zenit had the best record of anyone in the group stages (I am reliablely informed)


    Not a bad result considering that

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