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. thomthethim for Oscar OK on

    So, we can take it that Hampden is a no go area?



    It took a while, but surely there is now no justification to endorse the SFA and pay Eck’s tax demand.

  2. Thomthethim- we should be able to scrutinize Ecks’ pay packet. Not just HMRC being paid off.



    I was actually starting to get behind the Gordon project. Then pffft…



    This is a direct challenge to Scottish Football…..what you gonna do about it?



    McRae – don’t start me…how does that absolute cretin have any influence? Well we know, just diffiCULT to prove.



    As a bhoy i watched the `82 WC from Spain and loved it. That was the last time. The blazers need wiped.

  3. GORDON64 on 16TH FEBRUARY 2018 11:45 PM


    We witnessed one of Celtics great european goals last night. It was a work of art from start to finish. HH



    Actually reminded me of Liam Miller v Lyon , a player in space in the box , that rarely happens in these games, a famous night and we have a chance of going through, we would have taken that before last night ….HH





    Congratulations to Caitlin. She’s done amazingly well to get this far,cos it isn’t the easiest subject to get into!!




  5. 50 shades of green on

    Morning Tims……



    Moreorless away yet????




    Thought that.




    Bring on the Saints, Perth wans first then the ruskies.



    Next Broonie ra morra, Step up Mr ———-.




  6. Big Hoopy Birthday in Paradise to my Pal Eldiego Bhoy, he would have been the Magical 67 Today, Rest In Peace Jim





    Jim was an absolute pleasure to know,a great guy much missed by all who knew him,even more by all who loved him.



    He could be a little acerbic at times on here-as in life,probably!-and I admit to not really looking forward too much when he accepted an invitation to an early hootenanny.



    Now,I’ve always said that disagreements on here are put aside when people meet up in public,and time has proven me correct,but Jim,well,Jim was different. He quietly pulled me to one side,explained that while some of my posts were up to scratch,some weren’t.



    Half an hour and more,we were still chatting and getting on like a house on fire!



    I met him a few times after that,my Dad and my sisters thought the world of him too.



    Some people sadly lost a much-loved father,or friend. I can only say I wish that circumstances had given me more time in his company.



    R I P Jim.

  8. A part of ernie lynch`s response to Paul`s `What went right for Celtic` question was that Zenit played badly.


    Has ernie seen enough of Zenit to know this or was he comparing them with a Platonic image of Football as it should be played?


    Cheerio for now.





    PS As no one knows where ernie lives, I suppose Zenit COULD be his local team :-))

  9. Hoopy birthday EDB


    Bet he enjoyed Thursday night from his seat on high.


    A quality gentleman



    HH jamesgang

  10. Bobbio



    That EDB could sort you out in a mere 30 mins is ample testament to the greatness of the mhan!






    HH jamesgang

  11. those of you who thought no88 could walk on water following Thursday’s performance May be interested to know his full name is Jules Christ Eboue Kouassi

  12. Good morning from a wet north staffs



    EDB not forgotten



    I see an American has won a bronze medal for UK – how does that work ?

  13. Same team for Sunday except musonda in for Broonie (banned)and Gamboa for Mikel (rest). TR needs some game time so perhaps 45 mins

  14. BMCUWP – I never met EDB but have read enough about him here to appreciate that he was one of the good guys, god bless him.



    Derry Hoot? – Is it the last weekend in June M?




  15. Reports that The Ragers are bracing themselves for an increased offer of


    £11 million for Moreorles from Beijing Renhe (who have also made a €22 million bid for a Las Palmas). Obviously missing an open goal from 2 feet out has added another few million onto his valuation.

  16. Random thoughts:



    Zenit: To me, the addition of Kouassi to the midfield was key. He never stopped moving all night, backwards, forwards, fetching, carrying, harrying. Passing was good too. His endeavour allowed Ntcham more freedom and let Broonie sit in front of the defence. Our midfield looked ALIVE for the first time in ages.



    Eck: Probably not a bad man. But a symbol of corruption and decay nonetheless. He is the Find-A-Rainjurzz-Man option for a governing body which is now deeply compromised in its dealings with the 2 Rangers Clubs. The fact he has been appointed before a CEO – thereby hamstringing any efforts at forward-thinking or radical change – tells you all you need to know.



    Morelos: The continuation of the “bids” story reveals the truth: it is a distraction to convince the gullibles that Sevco is not holed below the financial waterline, nothing else.

  17. ITALIABHOY on 17TH FEBRUARY 2018 9:04 AM


    Random thoughts:




    Zenit: To me, the addition of Kouassi to the midfield was key. He never stopped moving all night, backwards, forwards, fetching, carrying, harrying. Passing was good too. His endeavour allowed Ntcham more freedom and let Broonie sit in front of the defence. Our midfield looked ALIVE for the first time in ages.






    Or since the first 45 sparkling minutes versus hearts? And for exactly the same reason.



    HH jamesgang

  18. Did I miss any mention of our result against Zenit on BBC Scotland s flagship evening news program?


    I watched Reporting Scotland last night in anticipation of their regular sports news section but must have been out the room during their report on the most significant result in Scottish football for some time.




  19. This winter Olympics has been severely devalued by the banning of one of the biggest teams -Russia .


    A decision forced through by the US for twisted political reasons.


    Some Russians are taking part but its not allowed to call them Russia . They are O A R.


    The TV commentators in the Slovakia v OAR ice-hocky were tying themselves in all sorts of knots sometimes calling them Russia them quickly correcting themselves with the Olympic Athletes of Russia.


    If they win there will be no flag and no national anthem!


    By the way our polis seemed to be crapping themselves over the Zenit fans . There was a huge nervous polis presence surrounding the well-behaved visitors – maybe they thought Putin was amongst them.


    At least the MaCarthyite US(so far) haven’t been able to stop the Word Cup going ahead . Not for the lack of trying though.


    Surreal times indeed.

  20. 50 shades of green on




    Maybe Hendry in for Jozo also mate especially with the sheep away next Sunday.





  21. 50 shades of green on

    Has anyone told the Chinese they could just buy the whole outfit fae Govan,world famous car park included for a fraction of the 11 mill, shut the operation down and just take the Columbian diddy back to China???



    Makes sense to me.




  22. Good morning, friends.



    Today’s CQN Couponeers’ picks –


    BMCUWP Sunderland


    JOBO Partick




    AWALK Stirling


    TET Kilmarnock


    LENNYBHOY Wycombe


    POG Oxford

  23. Not just the inclusion of Kouassi but his forward midfield deployment was a tactical master stroke. Unexpected and extremely effective.


    Early in the match Brendan was urging our No.88 forward to press the Zenit defenders resulting in a mistake and half chance for us. For a team with such a good domestic defensive record they didn’t look comfortable with us at all.





    No matter which weekend I look at,I keep coming up with about 2/3 and more of available hotels fully booked.



    I genuinely want to get over there,but I’m hitting a brick wall head first.



    Considering just doing a Belfast one instead. First one was a cracker!



    I’m open to suggestions on it from elsewhere,but there really isn’t a lot of point in a weekend away where accommodation is impossible.



    Stand by your phone,call you in a mo!

  25. 50 shades of green on

    I know I said a couple of weeks ago that the wattie for Scotland thing was a red herring and that it would be that Ginger ebt recipient that would get get it.



    But this morning I’m reminded of the final scene in planet of the apes, with Big Charlie H down on the ground beating it with his fist and screaming” Fools bloody Fools you’ve gone and done it ”




  26. What is the Stars on

    Why is everybody still going on and on about scraping a one nil victory over a sub standard Zenit team.


    Ok it was Celtics first ever home win in European competition but really get over it.


    The big news in Scottish football this week is the appointment of a manager for the national team. And also of course the world record bid of 20 million for Scotland’s leading goal scorer.

  27. The hands cant hit what the eyes cant see on

    What went right for Celtic?



    I think for the first time in this year’s European campaign Rodgers got his tactics spot on. We were compact, disciplined and employed the right personnel, with a powerful midfield trio and wingbacks that protected our flanks.



    It definitely provides a road map for future European games, especially against the top tier of European football.

  28. Bobby,


    What about using Belfast as a base for a weekend and doing a day trip to Derry …… Kind of loke a JollyBhoys outing

  29. It’s funny the difference in reporting of certain games in the media. With Zenit they were returning after a winter break and were not fully match fit. In similar circumstances Celtic are returning fresh and rested after a break, ready to fire on all cylinders. So no excuses for us.


    BAMBOO 916



    Yep. Let’s turn a blind eye to incontrovertible medical tests but complain about the SFA doing eff all.