Celtic 2-1 Lazio
It might be the beginning of winter,but it feels like a warm spring morning in Celticland,and that after a belter of a night in Paradise. The clocks go back on Saturday night/Sunday morning,but our bhoys turned the clocks back to the good old days of Celtic Park as a European Fortress,a place that the very best viewed with trepidation rather than as a day trip to the seaside that it had become of late.
“Did you bring me anything back from Scotland,Daddy?”
“Yes,darling. I brought you back three points and some photos of some marvellous tifos. Those Scottish fans certainly know how to celebrate,I wonder what they’d be like if their team actually won a game.”
Well,the Lazio players certainly know now. The stadium was rocking and rolling,the players gave their all in response to the backing they were receiving. I’ve been at some marvellous European nights at Celtic Park-I’ve been at some bummers too,btw!-and maybe the best of them was a 2-2 draw against Ajax,long before their fans ramped up the hatred. I don’t know where last night ranked in the pantheons of people like COSYCORNERBHOY who has been watching us play in Europe since I was only a year old nipper in 1964 and I don’t care either. I was at the Cluj game a few weeks ago,and it was magnificent. Last night made me wish I’d booked my holidays for a few weeks later.
The best thing about last night,of course,was that we won,and won after going behind from a rather shabby goal from our point of view. Except that it wasn’t,it was ramming it right up their obnoxious fascist scum support,earlier seen goosestepping in the streets as they made their Nazi salutes. Scotland,being the enlightened wee country that it is,employs police officers who clearly don’t have a problem with this. They stood idly by,as they did when the scum attempted to get the game called off due to flooding by pissing against a nearby wall. And I don’t mean one or two of them,either.
You and me? Huckled,no doubt about it. Fans of any and every club playing Celtic? Good luck tonight,lads. Hope you win.
To the game then. The return of Ryan Christie saw Tom Rogic drop to the bench,and Hatem Elhamed returned in place of the ineligible Jeremie Frimpong. So we started with a familiar shape and a familiar line-up.
The Italians didn’t have such a luxury as a familiar line-up. One or two of their more experienced players were benched,presumably there in case the game needed rescuing. Typical Italians,keeping their Generals and big guns in reserve. (Apologies to all for that one,but I couldn’t resist it!)
The early part of the game owed more to perspiration than inspiration as both teams struggled to have any meaningful spells of possession or pressure,and neither could force an opening as too many balls went astray. In one phase,typical of the period,the ball bobbled about from player to player around the Lazio area,no-one able to get it under control. When it came to Ryan Christie,he didn’t bother with any of that nonsense.
He just leathered it!
Twentytwo yards out,off the post with the keeper beaten. Unlucky,son. In less than a year you have proven to be a most unexpected gift!
Sadly it was a little bit of indecision from Ryan in a similar position which led to their goal. Unable to decide whether to go left or right and being closed down,he went for the shot. With too many of our team caught up the pitch,the Italians broke with speed and the ball was in the net before Christie could even say oops.
The second half started a bit like the first. Scrappy and tight,but no lack of effort. And it was the Italians who had the best chance in the earlier part. A through ball left I Wanna with only the keeper to beat,bar the one defender sliding in on him. Oh,fair dues-he timed it to perfection and the Italians broke once again at lightning pace,this time the woodwork coming to our rescue.
It was starting to look like one of those nights until Eddy finally managed to get some space at the edge of the box. Looking up,he saw Christie available and a perfect pass allowed him to scoop the ball wide of the keeper.
Well,you know how we celebrate these things-and we did! You wouldn’t have thought it possible that the crowd could turn up,the volume anymore,but they did as we cheered our bhoys on to score another,to get those vital three points. But again the best chance went the other way and again on a break. Fraser faced a low snap shot to his left and fended it off with his usual casual aplomb.
Grandmama,what strong arms you have! Seriously,that would only have hit most keepers on the way in. Stunning stuff. Relieved at the let off,we stormed back. We weren’t for giving up,but were the Italians going to hold on? It looked likely as we threw everything at them,even Broonie had a shot on target,though it was deflected well wide for a corner.
A minute remains,a corner. Well,remember I said on Monday how good our corners were at the weekend? Aye,me too. This one was better! Driven in with pace by Ryan,about eight yards out and just about the right height. Certainly the right height for Christopher Jullien-he Rose majestically to place a firm header low to the keeper’s right!
It was enough,just enough. A perfect way to round off a supreme team performance. One where we didn’t excel by any means,but where we played for that jersey and that support. And one which preserved our unbeaten Europa League campaign so far,and a point clear of the second-placed team in our group.
We are certainly in a good place there-one more win should do it,with any luck. And though I hesitate to say it,I think we are in a good place too with regards to the team. It is looking strong and focused. But although I don’t want to remove any gloss from a great night,we need to transfer some of that to our away performances domestically.
Starting on Sunday in Aberdeen.
But let’s not be churlish here. A simple thank you will suffice,and for last night,Celtic,I say…
Above article by BMCUWP. If any of you fancy a shot at this writing lark,show us what you’ve got and we will make it Article of the Day. Mail it to Mahe