There’s nothing better than playing at a stadium with bit of noise. Sadly, there aren’t many to choose from in Scottish football anymore, but from my sofa Easter Road sounded decent enough for the viewer.
Celtic travelled to Edinburgh for the lunchtime kick off against Hibs. It wasn’t an eyecatching first half but at least the atmosphere generated was one more deserving of TV coverage.
Hibs took a disputable lead on 18 minutes much to the distaste of Neil Lennon. Celtic were closed down quickly and hassled off the ball during that first 45 minutes but it didn’t prevent them making attacking moves.
The second half saw a better performance from Celtic but it took until the 77th minute to draw level. As is often the case, they had the lions share of possession but still had to contend with some rough tackling from Hibs.
There was ample time and opportunity for Celtic to do something about the scoreline though. Neil Lennon had deployed a whole host of attackers but it was second half substitute James Forrest who scored for Celtic.
He’s often received criticism for disappearing in games but he showed the fans and his teammates where the goal was. It was a superb finish to the far post from the outside of the boot which is right up there with the best of this seasons goals so far.
Forrest almost grabbed another later on had it not been for an excellent one handed save from the Hibs keeper. The winger looked a little dejected at the end having come so close to getting all three points but he singlehandedly got one point for his club.
With a starting lineup including Commons, Pukki, Stokes and Samaras I suggest Lennon was trying to put this match to bed early. Had any of these players been as clinical as Forrest then the manager would have got his wish.
Instead Commons had to come off early with an injury. If it weren’t for the fact Celtic face Ajax on Tuesday he may even have walked that one off.
My feeling is that it was more a precautionary measure than a conclusive inury. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway.
One refreshing feature from yesterday’s match was the performance of Darnell Fisher. I first saw him turn in a good display against Liverpool, albeit it in a friendly.
It was always going to be a bit of a step up for him given the void left by Lustig and Matthews. On yesterdays contribution alone I would say he stood up to task well.
Fisher bore the brunt of the hefty tackling from Hibs but he also took it in his stride. His progress up the right channel often led to the exchange of passing moves rather than just a defending role.
Champions League duty may prove a daunting task for him should Lustig fail to be fit. I don’t think it will come to that but he seems capable for a young player.
From what I saw on TV, there is no doubt the Celtic players had their minds on the Ajax match yesterday but they can now give Tuesday their full attention. Decisions will be made in the next couple of days on the fitness of Commons, Lustig and Izaguirre.
Players who haven’t featured much recently such as Ledley will be considered for starting places as well. Though it is more likely that Kayal will be first pick in midfield along with Mulgrew.
There is also the option of new boy Nir Biton. He hasn’t looked out of place on early viewing and with the absence of Scott Brown for the next three Champions League games, Neil Lennon will need as many options as possible.
On the attacking front, things need to settle down. Stokes has started the season on spectacular form but he isn’t an out-and-out striker.
Despite some goals, Pukki hasn’t settled in yet but his role is in the striking department and hopefully there will be more to come from him very soon. Samaras looks confident right now but a goal from him and a victory on Tuesday night would supercharge the Greek for sure.
In the Champions League he has been fantastic for Lennon. Two narrow defeats against Milan and Barcelona haven’t prevented him from putting in good performances either so Lennon will be counting on him big time.
Celtic’s first Champions League points must be taken against Ajax. In the stands the fans will be right behind the players and I’ll be in travelling north to be there.
I can’t wait. Until Tuesday, Bhoys.