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. mike in toronto on

    GENE on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 1:33 PM





    50000k is 500million – we wish








    I remember reading somewhere that, between prize money, additional endorsements and such, Leicester’s EPL title was worth about 500 million to the club! Boggles the mind ….

  2. A full Eck love-in on Sportsound. Few dissenting voices to the appointment according to Webster. McManus was given his Hibs debut by him so he full Eck.

  3. mild mannered Pedro delgado on



    Sevco are a shower a shite/ cheatin b’s


    Double a side by the eagles



    Dj is playin a blinder the night on Clyde



    Underestimated Celtic


    Were on the winter break

  4. Great result last night and great performance also. No need the say anymore, I missed first 15 minutes as I was delayed in Manchester.


    Great to see the Celtic family as one again.


    Incidentally if you saw that “car crash” of a press call this morning at Hampden , you surely noticed two men so out of their depth.


    McLeish had obviously told McRae to shut up as he can handle this press pack easily. A fired up , florid faced McLeish spouted shite for three minutes whilst McRae ground his piles into the velour. When a question was asked, they scarpered , entwining each other’s hands in a fraternal display of “we’re all in this together” type of panic.


    The SFA have never looked more shambolic, and that is not easy. HH

  5. walkin out 10 minutes to go, we are at the top of the rangers end, we get a corner my old man says lets wait for the corner, charlie gallagher puts the the ball by the corner flag, next i can still see big billy heading that ball into the net my old man gives me the biggest bear hug i couldnt feckin breathe .never ever forget that feelin, even back then parkhead under the floodlights was the envy of the world, oh just forgot to say our opponents that night emdy remember.lol.

  6. i'vehadtochangemyname on

    honestly gene – A Scottish team wins in the El after Christmas, not to mention playing great footie and it’s hard to find – sweet mother they’re dreadful.

  7. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    MSM DOs and DONTs for McLeish:


    DO say how successful he was last time.


    DON’T say he actually failed to qualify.


    DO mention his 70% win rate at Scotland.


    DON’T mention his 36% win rate since.


    DO go on about everything he won at Rangers.


    DON’T mention the record run of games without a win or finishing third in a two team league.


    DO mention the League Cup win with Birmingham.


    DON’T mention the two relegations or bombing Notts Forest out of the play-off places.


    DO say he wasn’t liked at Villa because he had been at Birmingham.


    DON’T say it was really because he played turgid football, won 9 games out of 42 and nearly got them relegated.


    DO say he masterminded a great win against France.


    DON’T say that it was a lucky win won by a wondergoal.


    DO say it was a brilliant France team who had reached the World Cup final.


    DON’T say that they only reached the final due to Zidane who then retired and that they showed how poor they were in the Euro 2008 finals.


    DO say how he was robbed of qualification by a free kick wrongly given to Italy.


    DON’T say that Scotland’s goal was offside, Italy had an onside goal disallowed and that a draw wouldn’t have been good enough anyway.


    DO go on and on about Strachan losing to Georgia.


    DON’T mention McLeish losing to Georgia.


    DO say he won trophies at Rangers with a limited budget.


    DON’T say that he took over an £80m team stuffed full of EBT internationals.


    DO say what a great guy he is.


    Most definitely DON’T mention £1.7 million. Just don’t!

  8. Local news here is that while WBA are on warm weather training in Barcelona – 4 players including Gareth Barrie and Johnnie Evans broke curfew and stole a local taxi from outside a takeaway.



    Overpaid louts

  9. Paul67 et al



    Great performance from a well focussed team. Need something similar next week, and with the Mousse staring to look like his old self a goal at least is not beyond us. Would be a fantastic achievement if we can do it. And we can….


    The doubt is now with Zenit. Job well done.

  10. Lol : Did you know Donald Trump is a Fire Dog.



    Wow , the Chinese were very astute with extrasensory perception.



    Hail Hail. To all happy Tims.

  11. Personally I’d be delighted if ZERO Celtic players featured in any future Scotland squad.



    HH jamesgang

  12. Incidentally, Big Swalec McLeish is married to the aptly named Gill – 25 years – or quarter gil.

  13. Washed-up, hunned-up booze-bag, horribly conflicted an’ up to his knees in scoddland’s tainted past.

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

    JAMESGANG – I was always a full-on Scotland fan when I was younger.



    Andy Roxburgh was the beginning of the end for me in terms of being excited about Scotland games.



    Downward spiral since then and the impact of atrocious leadership, nepotism and self-serving (or Hun-serving) office bearers has been the hallmark of an organisation that is 40 years behind most modern, professional sports governing bodies.



    Like you – not interested in seeing Celtic players risk injury playing for an SFA team.



    If there is revolution at the SFA – not evolution – then I might well change my mind.



    HH Big Chap (we are off to Munich again in April for a few days!!)




  15. prestonpans bhoys on




    Nope leave that to the knobs at the other side of town!



    Anyway just watched a rerun of the game, didn’t realise how good we were, which was down to the amount of drink consumed before the game :0)

  16. BIG PACKY-if i upset you with my sense off humour the other night then sorry,but I didn’t say anything wrong,you do like to throw in a wee story and then ask the blog to finish it for you:-))

  17. Big Packy



    It was the quarter-final of the old European Cup, v. Vojvodina Novi Sad from the then Yugoslavia. And it was a lot later than 10 minutes to go when Big Billy’s napper put us through – Vojvodina kicked off after the goal and the ref blew for full-time. Cue bedlam.



    BTW that was the last game my dad ever attended at Celtic Park – the excitement of the crown was a bit too much for him!

  18. Not much to add to the comments over last nights wonderfull display only to echo Peas and Barleys celebration after our goal in which his contribuition was so instrumental.



    Imagine wasting money on a chelski reserve when we could gave signed John McGinn lol, sounds a bit like ned flanders statement over signing one of Dr Joe’s pals when we could have opened the biscuit tin for bully davies brither-in-law lol.



    Incidentally, Charly a Belgian international from under-15 to under-21 levels has the carrot stick of the WC in the summer to strive for.



    As for next Thursday’s game we should be aware that the tackles last night which were a bit suspect will be in full flow then. Its also worth noting that in a country awash with money for players there are no black players in the Zenit squad and it was no more than 5 year ago Zenit fans were calling for non-white and players to be excluded from their team.



    Also, they have been forced to close part of their stadium after being found guilty of racist behaviour by displaying a banner saying the “Butcher of Bosnia,Ratko Mladic is a hero”. We are truly entering into the lion’s dens here.



    One more observation was as the players were lined up listening to the Europa anthem, which was being drowned out by our amazing support, one of the Zenit players at the end of his group turned round and looked toward the Green Brigade, when he turned back he had that WTF look on his face.

  19. BGFC



    Hear, hear….



    I’m a Glaswegian, my national team is Scotland but any real, genuine enthusiasm for our results has been worn down, gradually, incrementally by a few things – the hun/ Blazer influence the most compelling.



    This development will result in lower attendances as the Singin’ Kettle brigade get a bee in their jaunty bunnets, but few will notice and even fewer care – all the while, sumdy picks up a big fat salary.

  20. FAIRHILL BHOY no upset here if i throw in a story just my sense of humour no flouncing either hope you are well.hh.

  21. Should have said one of mine and my dads good nights at paradise,but the weather walking up to park was horrible,absolutely drenched,but the wee guy (78) this March kept going:-))

  22. FRANNYB67 on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 7:54 PM


    Big Judith back HH






    Those boots were made for walking CSC



    Can you get weather forecast on Catch Up…;))

  23. I realise it is a forlorn hope but I would be happy if Celtic players stopped playing for Scotland.


    They could argue that their allegiance is to the Club that pays their wages and they already play far more games than any other players in Scotland.






    Pretty much the same for me but my rate of declining enthusiasm was accelerated with my return to Scotland eleven years ago. First hand experience of anti-Celtic; pro-Sevco bias has meant that my `Scotland` support is for the likes of Andy Murray and Elise Christie and even that is fairly diluted.


    When BBC Scotland can show us the National Rugby team having a laugh in training for a game over a week away but fail to mention the country`s Champions winning in a European Competition the previous night, then we know, even more so, what we are up against.







  24. Just seen McRae presser what an absolute arse of a man how on earth did this clown get to the position he is in? Mentioning 1888 made me laugh at his stupidity. But made for crash car tv viewing it was that bad



    Scotland will get nowhere with these dinosaurs & half wits in charge who are light years behind every other football association with there masonic tendencies influencing there decision making

  25. FAIRHILL BHOY, no problem pal, there is too many huns in this world ,us tims shouldnt fall out bloomin heck, even me and philbhoy are the best of mates.lol.

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