Celtic’s Europa League group stage campaign got underway in Glasgow on Thursday night. There were no slip-ups, but we had to wait until the 87th minute to score the only goal of the game.
Whilst dominant, the performance yielded very little in the way of conviction in the final third of the field. The word “flat” has been used a lot to describe Celtic’s play and they did very little to change that opinion against familiar opposition.
Rosenborg are a capable side, but they’re nothing special. We knew this because we’d already played them twice this summer already.
I expected more from both teams, but I’m not quite sure what. Unforced errors, sloppiness and a lack of urgency was evident but whatever spark Celtic lack right now it needs to come from within their own ranks.
This was a game Celtic should have won more convincingly. The stats will show that they bossed it, but it wasn’t until the arrival of Leigh Griffiths that we would witness the killer instinct absent for the majority of the game.
Odsonne Edouard had been shy all night. Eventually he would be replaced by Griffiths in the 76th minute.
The move, and subsequent winner, came 11 minutes later. A long ball forward by Scott Brown to Dedryck Boyata was knocked down for Leigh Griffiths in acres of space who glanced home an intelligent header off the ground and past the Rosenborg keeper.
Route one football. Game over.
Relief and jubilation. Lessons to be learned as well.
It wasn’t working up front all game and the change was late on in the game. Two up top may have been the better choice, but that’s Brendan’s call.
As Chris Sutton said in commentary, this was by far Celtic’s easiest group stage tie. They almost threw it away as well.
Celtic got lucky here. They won’t get so lucky against Salzburg or Leipzig.
Those teams slugged it out in Germany on Thursday night as well. Salzburg won 2-3 away with a winner in the 89th minute of regulation time.
Celtic top the group after matchday one. The next Euro encounter will be much tougher, you can be sure of that.
A tricky away tie at Kilmarnock awaits Brendan and the Bhoys on Sunday. Freshening up the personnel could be in order for that one.
This will be the third of six games during a busy spell for Celtic. Also a good time to utilise the squad accordingly.
European football is the level of entertainment we crave every season. Domestic success is our bread and butter though.
With Hearts making a 100% winning start in the league and Rangers getting a good result in their opening Europa League group stage match, this season is already showing signs that it isn’t just about Celtic any more. Other Scottish teams are attracting attention and fair play to them.
Between now and the end of the season we’ll see which clubs are still in the fight. That includes Celtic.