Celtic were beaten fair and square at Celtic Park last night. I wasn’t overly confident going into the match though if I’m being honest, I didn’t see a smash and grab opening by Salzburg coming either.
They got lucky with a deflection to set up their opener. It would have been hard to miss and it had already beaten the defence so I can’t complain too much about that one.
After that Salzburg didn’t let up and Celtic were punished again. This time the players were still rattled from the first goal and in that mindset sloppiness set in.
I won’t take anything away from Salzburg though. They went on the offensive at Celtic Park just as Celtic did at Stadion Salzburg in September.
In last nights match though Salzburg looked like they had been drinking too much of their sponsored product. They settled quicker, played at the kind of tempo Ronny Deila wants for his team and had some nice movement of the ball.
Celtic on the other hand failed to stamp their authority on the game and the midfield should have imposed themselves more. They failed to take the pressure off the defence and didn’t get into any sort of rhythm.
When Stefan Johansen pulled a goal back Celtic began to play with more purpose. As the second half wore on the equaliser never materialised and Salzburg killed the game dead with a third.
But as I said yesterday, your luck can change in European football very quickly. After Celtic handed FC Astra their first group point a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that it wouldn’t surprise me if they beat Dinamo Zagreb last night.
As it turned out, they did and by doing so handed Celtic a last sixteen place. I wasn’t confident of a win in Zagreb so beating Salzburg was paramount to Celtic’s progress in this tournament.
Even in the face of defeat, Celtic have succeeded. It’s becoming a bit of a habit but in this game sometimes you need a rub of the green.
Whilst Ronny Deila will be disappointed with the home defeat he will be pleased he has a last sixteen spot in the Europa League. Its a credible achievement to do this in his first season.
By the time that fixture comes around, Celtic may have bedded in some new players. If John Guidetti hasn’t had his head turned he will also be included in an updated European squad.
Looking at the teams already through in top spot, Celtic will have their work cut for them. Let’s just hope that when the draw is made it isn’t Legia Warsaw.