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What went right for Celtic?

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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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614 Comments

  1. DAVID17 on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 4:49 PM

     

     

    Aberdeen well beaten today by all accounts, their punters are not happy.

     

     

    *I’m not a seer just been around this world a few years and I forecaste several weeks ago that mcsleekit will get the sugar lump and turn up at hades, no compensation tae the sheep, as my would have said hell scud both clubs boards.

  2. More than 19k at Easter Road.

     

     

    Armageddon right enough…..the race for second has got the punters interested!

  3. No Shinnie, No Christie, and no Lewis in goal.

     

    McInnes isn’t worried though, because he has a strong squad :-))))

  4. Gerryfaethebrig on

    Nye Bevans 4.55pm

     

     

    :-)

     

     

    Since our Neil forced Leicester circa 2000, to take £6m fir his services the Huns have been on the run

  5. TONTINE TIM on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 4:58 PM

     

     

    He’s not wanted at Ibokes. I think he’ll go into damage limitation mode next week, he’ll be fearing the worst. They’ll have the cows on Pittodrie during the week to rough up the pitch.

  6. BBC SPORTSCENE………………….every guest

     

     

    ‘Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm

     

    Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm

     

    Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm Old Firm’

     

     

    You Must Say Old Firm every time you have to mention Celtic repeat after me

  7. Nye Bevans' rebel soldier on

    GERRYFAETHEBRIG

     

     

    Lenny and Hibs are a great fit,he will in time go on to bigger and

     

    better, don’t want him back at Celtic he doesn’t need it.

  8. Gerryfaethebrig on

    Nye Bevans 5.23pm

     

     

    I wanted Neil to stay forever on s selfish point, on a football point Brendan is a step up (for now :-) but spot on, Neil doesn’t need it but even before he donned the hoops he “knew” what he would get, I wish Neil all the very best and would love him to return in the future but only if better than what we have at that point :-) by the way Lenny knows what he faces here and good on him for just being him

     

     

    Still in my top 5 favourite Celtic players (they I have saw) remember not just the best, just favourites :-)

  9. You are welcome guys. Thank you Art of War.

     

    If Daily Record is going to post the story I would suggest headlines:

     

    Russians face horrible reception at Celtic Park

     

    Shocked Zenit player makes a confession over Celtic behavior and flies to saint city

  10. 16 roads - Celtic über alles... on

    Does anyone know how many more points we need to retain the title?

     

     

    Thanks in advance.

     

     

    HH.

  11. BSR- I thought NL was on a hiding to nothing if he didn’t get Hibs up last year, but he has done a great job, he seems a much more attacking coach than before ; and the fans have bought in to it.Doing a great job and well ahead of that buffoon Levein’s mob.

  12. itscalledthemalvinas on

    Just love the contempt Neil shows the Sevco when he is asked anything about them.

     

    You can see the sneer on his face when their creepy rancid name appears !

  13. BBC Radio Scotland ‘Off The Ball’ with Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove….. to the backing track of Oasis, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” Tam Cowan, “Alex should look back, and will use the Walking out and the EBT’s to get his sleeves rolled up and get stuck in to win the Fans over”. “I can feel sorry for Alex, he’s been caught up in the middle of this.”

     

    Click….. now listening to Smooth radio.

  14. Nye Bevans' rebel soldier on

    GUISEPPE67 on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 5:54 PM

     

    Honest question. Will we ever get out of Scotland.

     

     

    No, what we can’t do is opt out,surrendering all the SFA sub- committees

     

    to the hun and their brethren will not end well for Celtic.

  15. Nye Bevans' rebel soldier on

    I’VEHADTOCHANGEMYNAME on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 6:12 PM

     

    anybody got the slightest what’s going on in Mulholland Drive?

     

     

     

    Gangsters are being thrown down the hill by the polis.

  16. prestonpans bhoys on

    SFM pointing out that the Hun’s “Armed forces day” collected a grand total of £4,837. On a 50,000 crowd that’s 9 pence each. Generous buggers these Hun’s :0)

  17. non football post, shakin like a leaf here bhoys, just been looking round my car for the umpteenth time cant believe no damage, was at a roundabout with traffic lights i was in the right lane intending to go straight ahead, as the lights changed i moved off next thing the car in the left lane turned right across my bows, i dont know how i managed to avoid hitting her, her car ended up on the grass verge .she got out and said well i did indicate, yes i said but you were in the wrong lane, she had an old lady in the front who was obviously upset so i didnt pursue the matter, just said any damage she said no so i looked over my car no damage so i said you better get your friend home and she left, but if there is a bottle of lanliq or buckfast in the house i need some.lol.

  18. When was the last time the 2 best managers in Scotland were dyed in the wool Tims?

     

     

    NFL doing a fantastic job at Hibs, so pleased for him (though have my reservations about Hibs).

  19. See that a hearts player snapped his achilies today against R C, has Broony been blamed yet by that A…hole levein?

     

    And another thing levein, don’t give us that shite that you didn’t know one of your own players was being racially abused by your own scumbag support, I mean you certainly knew when Broony was due a suspension. You were embarrassed you say, aye you, budge and that scumbag support are just one total embarrassment, must be a hun thing.

  20. Nye Bevans' rebel soldier on

    I’m away, if you can get up to the game tomorrow.

     

     

    goodnight and God bless.

  21. Bada Bing

     

     

    He has, he’s a good coach and good judge of player arguably the best Hibs have had by some distance.

     

     

    Its Neil Lennon the pundit who lets Celtic down, can’t blame him for hoping for a quiet life

     

    but making thousands of blue pounds singing the pipers tune wrankles, and any spoken truth would end his career in an instant, even at Hibs.

     

     

    This is where we live.

  22. ‘Split Board at the SFA’

     

     

    We know what side PL is on, he’s spoken out in support of 4 of the 8 members. What was behind Peter’s decision to speak out in public is what is interesting?

     

     

    The main Board consists of eight members: the Scottish FA Office Bearers (Alan McRae, President; the Chief Executive; and Rod Petrie, Vice President), plus Ian Maxwell (SPFL), Michael Mulraney (SPFL), Thomas McKeown (Scottish Amateur FA) and independent non-executive directors, Ana Stewart and Gary Hughes.

  23. Excellent interview with Effe Ambrose on BBC Alba. Whatever anyone says about big Effe he is a smashing guy who loves the Celtic. Hh

  24. Gordon64 on 17th February 2018 7:07 pm

     

     

    Excellent interview with Effe Ambrose on BBC Alba. Whatever anyone says about big Effe he is a smashing guy who loves the Celtic. Hh

     

     

    ….

     

     

    Efe is a Legend to me. Cracking player as well.

  25. archdeaconsbench on

    i’vehadtochangemyname on 17th February 2018 6:12 pm

     

     

    Tried to watch that again a few weeks ago. Still don’t get it..

     

    Not a massive fan of David Lynch. Blue Velvet aside…