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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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  1. SEÁNP1916 on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 1:15 PM

     

     

    ***

     

     

    According to the ever-reliabel Bert Kassies:

     

     

    The basis for the UEFA coefficients is the performance of teams in the European Cups during a five year period. During that period each team gets two points for a win and one point for a draw

     

     

    In addition one bonus point is allocated for reaching the quarter final, the semi final and the final. Qualification for the group-stage of the Champions League is awarded with 4 bonus points

     

     

    Cup qW qD qL #W #D #L Bonus Points

     

    25 Celtic EL 4 1 1 2 0 5 4 12.5 not out

     

    105 Aberdeen EL 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 2.5

     

    149 Glasgow Rangers EL 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.0

     

    197 St. Johnstone EL 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0.0

  2. watched the game in the irish club must admit didnt see this coming. what a game we were brilliant.

     

     

    best man on the park ntcham but every hoop player was great, on e of the best euro displays.

  3. 50 shades of green on

    I see sky are regurgitating the Chinese bid for a Zombie story.

     

     

    Did Celtic win last night?—- aye.

     

     

     

    Ffs —– Get a good news story oot fur ra bears quick.

     

     

    O the hurt the hurt.

  4. For the FF boys

     

     

    Zenit are 17th Ranked team in whole of Europe

     

     

    Progress Niederkorn after a good season are 422

     

     

    Celtic are 45th

  5. 50 SHADES OF GREEN on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 2:32 PM

     

    If we go through next week then they will be knocking back a £20m bid.

  6. zombies are ranked 262

     

     

    Part of ranking is from your country

     

     

    so we win they improve

     

     

    : > (

     

     

    Joint 262 with Inverness CT Murderwell Hibs Hearts and St Johnstone

     

    among others

  7. have to make a big apology to jozo and michel ,i said before the game last night that if all our players were fit i wouldnt play them ,how wrong was i everyone was immense.hh.

  8. watching the rerun on eir Sport and heard Brian Kerr say that Brendan was right not to have Charly on from the start. In his opinion Charly needs more experience before he can claim an automatic starting place in a big game like this, I’ve paraphrased a little, compare this to Chris Sutton he thought Brendan was wrong not to trust him and what was the point in signing him if he wasn’t going to play him. Guess that shows the difference between an experienced international manager and a pundit.

     

     

    When Charly did come on he showed his undoubted skill but what we needed at first was to impose our game on Zenit and then as they tired bring on some magic. In my opinion anyway.

  9. DAVID17:

     

     

    Notice also that all 10 outfield players are there to celebrate the goal. And Scott Brown uses the impromptu ‘huddle’ to do a bit of Captains work. Not just celebrating but offering some advice, encouragement, reassurance and level-headedness. Like we hear Brendan is always saying, “don’t switch off, stay focused”. Great bit of leadership.

     

     

    Can I also say I’ve just rewatched the game just so I could concentrate on Eboue Kouassi. I’m not in any way an analyst but I noticed two things. His biggest strength last night was his running in support of his teammates. He continually made space and provided options and yet saw very little of the ball. That’s a tough role to play. And he never gestured in frustration for receiving so little of the ball. Now that’s a teammate!

     

     

    T

  10. CultsBhoy- Last of the famous international PlayBhoys on

    Very difficult to identify a mom last night.

     

    A good case could be made for about 6 or 7 players.

     

     

    That’s what it takes to ply well at this level.

  11. Go tell the Spartim on

    My only interest in Scotland is that if any of our players are selected that they come back unharmed.

     

     

    Let them rot in peace

     

     

    Last night is what football is about, a game and a goal you never tire of seeing.

     

     

    I saw reports that \o/ had 97% pass completion and that we had the most possession of any team that played on Thursday

  12. CultsBhoy- Last of the famous international PlayBhoys on

    Sofa might well pay for McLeish appointment in form of very low attendances at future Scotland games I suspect.

     

     

    I don’t really care about international football. I’ve always been intrigued by die hard tartan army types. Intrigued by their blind loyalty to a near hopeless cause. I never thought I see the day they started to bemoan following Scotland but I sense this is now happening. Many unwilling to renew their subscription/ membership thing.

     

     

    My point is if these fanatics are having doubts it doesn’t bode well for the ordinary or already disaffected Scotland supporter.

     

     

    The SFA didn’t (and couldn’t) need to produce a marquee manager. They just had to signal some sort of imagination and progress.

     

     

    McLeish is the polar opposite. An establishment crony who is a manager severely on the wain.

     

     

    I predict an empty hampden. Might be timely given contract renegotiating. Perhaps ground share with Hamilton sized club on the cards.

  13. Well done Celtic you get what you worked for and last night as a team i thought each and every player supported each other.I am disappointed we did not tale a bigger lead to St.Petersburg but i am pretty positive we can score out there.

     

     

    Some people suprised were that performance came from? not me.stop being influenced Celts by the attempts by our ”waiting to be telt’ meejah to undermine our club at every turn.They know no more than you or i–loo roll waiting to be used’,they have no special sources except for the friday night((33 degree meetings) which is their failure system

     

     

    Skyeislandfill

     

    sorry i missed you in blane valley but i had to go as i had my mates ticket

     

     

    ps Blane valley v quiet

     

     

    HH

  14. Tim Malone Will Tell on

    CultsBhoy- Last of the famous international PlayBhoys on 16th February 2018 3:57 pm

     

    *SFA…. NOT SOFA

     

     

    —————————————————————————————————————————–

     

     

    Easy mistake to make Cultsbhoy.

     

     

    When the Celtic support face adversity – we hide behind the SOFA.

     

    When the Huns face adversity – they hide behind the SFA.

  15. Thought that was a great wee video leftclicktic posted. And yes he did get Charly and SS mixed up.

  16. I copied and pasted bognorbhoys post from this morning :))))

     

    I thought the young man was blown away with us,on and off the field.

     

    can excuse him one wee mistake :))))))))))))

  17. Loathe to talk about National team issues after last night, but the appointmemt of McLeish should put the mockers on any prospective move to Murrayfield. No way would they fill the 67,000 capacity stadium for games against fellow Euro-minnows. Which is a pity. Murrayfield is light years ahead of Hampden in just about every way, despite the fact that it’s almost 25 years old.

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