Celtic took to the field last night with a place in the UEFA Champions League at stake. That reality of succeed is 90 minutes closer now but the champions of Sweden will have much to say about that next week when the second leg takes place at Celtic Park.
It’s been a long wait to get back to this stage for the Hoops and you can almost hear the Champions League music in the background. For now though, we can reflect on last night’s positive performance.
Away from home in Europe has not always been a happy hunting ground for the Celtic, in fact it’s been more of a jinx at times. Last night though, Celtic hit Helsingborg with a dominant display in the first 20 minutes.
Inside that time Samaras picked out Kris Commons with a lovely left foot cross with Commons connecting on the volley with his left foot and putting it past the helpless Swedish keeper. That set the tone and Celtic’s tails were up from that point on, but the Swede’s came back into the game as Celtic’s early raid weakened and they had to absorb Helsingborg possession.
With the (long overdue) impending departure of Ki to Swansea and the suspension of Wanyama, Celtic still had a strong midfield to choose from. However, neither Kayal nor Brown looked their sharpest on the night.
Brown and Kayal are well short of match fitness and both have had injuries of recent. As the game wore on, their inability to influence the midfield was becoming more apparent but they did what they could.
That began to give Helsingborg the advantage in the middle of the park. It must be said though that the work rate amongst the rest of the team was fantastic.
Helsingborg made a nuisance of themselves though, as Adam Matthews found out, though he did redeem himself immediately. Fraser Forster pulled off some important saves throughout the match as well.
When it mattered, Samaras and Commons got together once more. This time they swapped ‘provider and receiver’ roles and Samaras headed home beautifully from a Commons cross.
Celtic ended the match pressing Helsingborg but at 2-0 it was a solid away result for Neil Lennon and the Bhoy’s. There were few moments of concern in my opinion and the ones that were questionable will be looked at I am sure.
Overall I was really happy with the display away from home. The job is only half done though.