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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  1. Navanbhoy 1.06pm


    Hail Hail for your mate Mick, hope he has a speedy recovery, from another Coatbrige man.

  2. Emanuel Mammana interview for Russian Match TV


    He is now at Zenit but played for Lyon in the past



    It’s been more than one day gone from the final whistle of the game. Everyone’s head must be cool now. What is your opinion on the game?


    You are right, it’s much easier to talk about the game now. My head is cool. That was very tough game for us. We were worse team on the pitch, lost the game and for that reason I have no desire to talk about it much. We must work very hard in Rome, keep focusing on the game next Thursday in Sankt Petersburg. We have 90 minutes chance to reverse the way things go and finally win the competition against Celtic Glasgow.


    You need to learn right lesson, find what went wrong in the first game, right?


    Yes, of course. We made a lot of mistakes during the game at Celtic Park. We need to do right and detailed analysis of the game and particularly of all these mistakes we did in Glasgow. We need to see again how Celtic played, learn their game, find aspects that may be key factors at Arena Sankt Petersburg. As I said earlier, we are in the middle of the road of this duel. Nothing is decided yet. The talk about who will go through to the next round would be too early.


    What in your opinion was the biggest problem that Zenit faced in Glasgow?


    We made a lot of wrong passes. What is painful, we made many of them when we were not under the pressure, when we should be accurate with our decisions. I find there is at least two, not one reason of the situation. Firstly, that was our first after long time game that we played for something. Secondly, I must confess, in the first minutes of the game we felt huge fear. We looked helpless and this is how we felt.


    Did you like the atmosphere at Celtic Park?


    Exclude me, please and understand that for everyone from Zenit Celtic Park was unusual experience. I was in here with Lyon when we played against Celtic. I knew what we must expect at Celtic Park. I would not say the atmosphere surprised me. Everything that I expected happened again during the game. The rest of my colleagues? They all were and played under the extreme feelings. I think we played the worst in the first phase of the game due to that reason.


    Have you not told your colleagues what they may face at Celtic Park?


    Yes, I have told them what we may face at Celtic Park. It’s, you know, one thing listen and imagine how it may be, but the other thing is reality that you face. Can you prepare yourself and your colleagues for that? Definitely, No, you can not.


    Whatever happened there with the atmosphere, Zenit withstood the pressure from the stands and from Celtic team. Why have you lost the goal at the end of the game.


    Definitely it’s not good when you lose the goal at the end of the game. The game could end with 0:0 final result. We would be in much better mood.On the other hand 0:1away in play off is not a catastrophe. We will work in Rome on control of the ball, on passing the ball. We will work on right aspects of the game, need to learn what mistakes were done in Glasgow. If we do good work in Rome we can win the game in Sankt Petersburg and as I believe we go through to the next round. As for late goal in Glasgow, I cannot give one and the only reason why this happened. The Scotts made the series of good accurate passes before the goal. We definitely made mistakes somewhere. To be more real, the goal was not the consequence of one or few mistakes. The whole picture of the game was that they were the better, we were worse and the goal for them was the matter of time.


    In another words that goal for Celtic was the consequence of our deficiency in quality of our game and their dominancy in it.


    Some of Zenit supporters write on internet websites that 0:1 defeat in Glasgow might be better than 0:0 result. Writing this they think that Zenit has no choice and must play forward to score the goal. It’s going to be good game for the fans.


    A draw is always the better result than an defeat. When it comes to the games at our stadium we are obliged to win each one. This means when the game against Celtic comes we will be focused on winning it. I hope our supporters will help us to achieve good result. I expect them to show that the atmosphere at Arena Sankt Petersburg is not worse that one at Celtic Park

  3. GENE on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 2:11 PM







    didn’t see it live but thought that they said she had made the infringement – anyway hope she’s ok





    Very harsh decision on Christie. The 500 metres was even worse when her hand was knocked by another competitor’s skate.



    It’s a very brutal sport, where any slight nudge causes chaos.



    I’d love to see Christie win the 1000, but thus far this is almost a repeat of the Sochi Olympics 4 years ago.




    I couldn’t watch the SFA announcement clip ask it was giving me the boak.

  4. FA Cup with 2 Premiership teams, including one of england’s oldest with 10 appearances in the final winning it 5 times, facing each other and lots of empty seats at the Hawthorns.



    WBA also appeared in the World Club Championship Final at Hampden where as FA Cup Winners they lost 1-4 to the mighty Renton who had defeated Cambuslang 6-1 in the SC Final at the same venue. This was a record score for a SC Final, not to be confused with the LC Final, when a Dixie inspired team equaled that against he plastic paddies of Leith.

  5. Zybesk



    thanks very much for that translation – much appreciated.



    interesting stuff!

  6. Good result on Tuesday but also need to remember we lost our last game and Broonie is out tomorrow. There will be a lot of changes, something like this would do,






    Hendry Simunovic Ajer



    Forrest Kouassi Ntcham Tierney



    Musonda Edouard Sinclair

  7. on Thursday, the St Petersbug weather forecast shows temperatures between -9 and -12, with a 60% chance of snow…….



    layers. its the only way.

  8. Just when I thought my football week couldn’t get any better. Half time at the K Park and it’s EKFC 4 Vale of Leithen 0.

  9. ZBYSZEK on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 3:23 PM



    Emanuel Mammana interview for Russian Match TV He is now at Zenit but played for Lyon in the past



    Secondly, I must confess, in the first minutes of the game we felt huge fear. We looked helpless and this is how we felt.



    *I mentioned this yesterday, the WTF look on one of their players after he looked toward the Green Brigade.

  10. “…. and Hibs have scored, a terrible decision from Andrew Dallas, just like his father at times” – Chris Sutton of BT Sports

  11. Wonder if Levein will watch the Hibs game and ask why Dallas didn’t send off McLean of Aberdeen for a second stonewall yellow.



    I wonder who the sheep have next?

  12. The Zenit right back was so bad on the night. I guess the atmosphere got to him especially.



    Celtic are gonnae need Big performances on Thursday from Every player.



    Quietly confident we can progres.

  13. For clarity the Sutton barb at Andrew Dallas is in respect to a decision just prior to Hibs second goal where he feels Steven Maclean should have been given a second yellow for a foul on Dylan Mcgeouch.

  14. If Hibs close this one out & we win tomorrow, it will be an eleven point lead with eleven games left,


    WE will be able to smell the Title from that range.

  15. kevJ



    Yet again, you have just reversed more previously held positions than an Italian Tank Commander.



    You think you are convincing anybody in asserting that I meant Callum was invisible only when played as a defensive mid? Incidentally, name the last time he played in such a position under Brendan.



    Have the courage of your many previous convictions and just stutter out the phrase “I was wrong!”



    It’s the first step of a 12 step programme to cure Tabloid thinking Addiction.

  16. I noticed that Shinnie is missing for Aberdeen today due to suspension. In the game at Celtic park he was their driving force for half an hour until he got book, then he and they fell out of the game. He is also suspended for next week.

  17. Mr Zybysek, thank you so much for taking the time to do that mate.



    It gives us an insight that we otherwise – without your input – would not have.



    I hope someone shows it to Brendan.



    That’s another cyber pint I owe you :-)

  18. All over Hibs are breathing down Sevco’s neck, we are moving into the final straight, Victory in sight.