October was a hectic schedule in regards to our beloved Hoops and let’s be brutal it was anything but pretty. We started the month in Sarajevo for the final qualifying round for entry to Europa league group stages and just scraped it 0-1. From here we moved onto Perth three days later in league duty against St.Johnstone where we left it very late to win 0-2 and goals coming from late subs Leigh Griffiths (90) and Klimala (90+3). In a game where we dominated possession but failed miserably in the final third with three shots on target being a tell tale sign.
Saturday 17th October 2020.
Celtic hosted the first Glasgow derby of the season and the fans, mostly, were in a buoyant and confident mood going into the fixture. This was proved to be nothing more than bravado as our players and management team let us down badly and this time not even one shot on target. Two goals by Rangers defender Connor Goldson was nothing short of embarrassing, regardless of Celtic being short four players due to COVID whilst on international duty. The Celtic fans can be forgiving and accepting in defeat when the team has went down fighting but Rangers were the only team that looked hungry.
Thursday 22nd October 2020.
Old European adversaries AC Milan made the trip to Glasgow for Europa League match day one while sitting top of Serie A and resurgent under the guidance of boss Stefano Pioli. The Milanese have spent the last decade kicking their heels around mid table obscurity and missing out on Europe altogether at times due to lack of finances and club mismanagement. Celtic could only improve on Saturdays performance as there was no lower to go and admittedly the signs were encouraging in spells but in actual fact we still managed to go in at half time 0-2 down. The defence continued to show its deficiencies by giving away two pretty soft goals to Krunic (14) and Díaz (42).
Lennon made some changes by introducing Ryan Christie and Moi Elyounoussi to the fray for the second period in the hope of turning things around. It immediately seemed to inject some urgency, energy and flair with Celtic pushing further forward and coming into the game. New Bhoy Diego Laxalt was on fire against his parent club as he played with an obvious point to prove and was fearless going forward as he was in winning numerous tackles. With continued pressure Celtic finally found a breakthrough when Elyounoussi headed home (76) from a Ryan Christie corner and it was much deserved 1-2 and game on. The next 15 minutes saw the Hoops probe and attack continually as Milan desperately held on and were deserving of an equaliser but cruel fortunes were only a break away. With Celtic investing in attack it left the possibility of punishment open at the back and Milan broke out in 92 minutes with sub Hauge making no mistake and scored a good goal to finish up at 1-3. Better from Celtic but these are the small margins between success and failure.
Sunday 25th October 2020
With games coming thick and fast a tough trip north to Aberdeen would give Celtic the opportunity to get back on track in domestic duty and hopefully bring the best bits of form from Thursday night into this meeting. However the Dons would draw first blood when an * mistake by Ntcham when he upended Lewis Ferguson on the edge of the box. Referee Willie Collum wasted no time in pointing to the spot for a penalty and Lewis Ferguson made no mistake in putting Aberdeen 1-0 up in 43 minutes.
Celtic came out second half looking to turn things around quickly and Calum McGregor, Captain for the day, received a nice pass from Rogic to bury it low past the keeper to draw level 1-1. Aberdeen were not for giving up and went ahead once more with a goal from Ryan Hedges (65). It was time for new blood and Lennon sent on Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths to try to stamp some authority on the game and Celtic would draw level soon enough. Again it was another intelligent pass from Rogic to slip Griffiths into the box on the right side and the Wee man rifled a stunning goal past Keeper Lewis into the top left corner of the net to make it 2-2 (76 mins) and game on.
It took only two minutes for the Bhoys to get up the pitch again for another attack on the Aberdeen goal and this time it would be a penalty for Celtic as Elyounoussi was taken out inside the box. Ryan Christie stepped up and made it 2-3 Celtic in this pulsating encounter that was surely a great spectacle for the neutral football fan. Celtic had twelve minutes plus stoppage to see this match out but instead it was enough time for the team in red to to capitalise on Celtic’s poor defence yet again. On 92 minutes with the ball breaking loose in the Celtic box McGregor made a tackle and managed to trip McLennan for yet another penalty. McGregor had been making silly tackles all afternoon and Willie Collum needed very little encouragement. Lewis Ferguson made it 3-3 and his second penalty of the afternoon. These displays are not good for the blood pressure.
Another two points dropped, another three goals conceded and the continuation of a poor run of results.
Thursday 29th October 2020
A very tough away trip to France in match day two of the Europa League and Celtic facing an in-form 2nd placed Lille side who are currently pushing money bags PSG all the way and not a lot expected from Lennon’s team. With Celtic the underdogs it seemed to suit us with the pressure off for a change and through our attacking play the team gave a brilliant first half performance. Two goals by the big Norwegian Elyounoussi, a disallowed goal for offside against Albian Ajeti and an impressive saved penalty by Scott Bain saw our Bhoys go in at half time 2-0 up and deservedly so.
All this great work would be undone in the second period as it saw the French hosts pull two goals back for the draw. It was down to some sloppy play and also the retreat into our own half when our attacking approach was working well in the first half. Add these to fatigue setting in due to a few weeks of uncertainty, COVID dropouts and the chopping and changing of personnel and formations. Overall a draw was fair enough on both sides and this result the fans would have taken before kickoff.
Sunday 1st November 2020
With October out of the way there was a big chance to kick start our season by taking care of some pending business from last season. This came in the form of a Hampden Scottish Cup Semi Final against the previous weeks opponents, Aberdeen. Celtic had to deal with two early Dons attacks from the left wing when Jeremie Frimpong twice lost his man who crossed in for Cosgrove who thankfully diverted his headers wide both times. Edouard made space for himself at the other end to get a shot away but rebounded back off the keeper for Edouard to strike again and the keeper Joe Lewis done well to save both efforts. Celtic were truly turning on the style with waves of attacks and slick passing and it paid off in the 18th minute mark. Tom Rogic, who is fairly finding form, slipped a ball to Christie who made in from the right and took a touch to set himself up. Christie let fly with a delicious curling shot that went over Lewis and into the top left hand corner. A world class goal to get us off to a great start.
Celtic on fire now took only another five minutes to pull further away. Again it was ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ Rogic who deftly lifted the ball from the left post, over the defender and keeper to be rattled into the roof of the net at the opposite post from the running Elyounoussi. 2-0 Celtic and this tie was never in doubt from here on in. The first half the Celts played some of their best football all season and were simply phenomenal. Aberdeen did start to come into the match second half due to a tiredness creeping in to the Celtic team, the poor weather which in turn made the pitch heavy and their efforts from the Lille game three days earlier. The Hoops held tight and defended well to keep a clean sheet and the game in no doubt. Also pleasing was seeing all the players pulling together and coming onto their games.
Special mentions for Edouard, Elyounoussi, Bitton, McGregor, Brown with Frimpong and Laxalt running themselves into the ground. The sponsors Man Of The Match was awarded to Ryan Christie but could easily have been Tom Rogic. A quadruple treble is now a step closer with a Hampden date on 20/12/20 against Hearts which hopefully sees us all have a Hoopy Christmas. (Sorry)
Thursday 5th November 2020
This brings us to match day three in the Europa League and a double header against Czech league leaders Sparta Prague. We face them without any major or new injury concerns and with returning players getting nicely up to speed. I am confident we can continue with a win and then we assess the away leg. Sparta sit bottom of the group on 0 points, behind us, after defeats by Lille 4-1 and AC Milan 3-0. The man to watch out for is Lucas Julius with six goals in nine appearances but this is a game we should be winning.
C’MON YOU BHOYS IN GREEN!!!!!