Anyone in the Etims Kultured CSC who has seen the Sky Arts “Portrait Artist of the Year” show will be have seen the reaction of the celebs when the artists turn their easels around to show their finished portraits. Without fail, the celebs sit there wide eyed, drop their jaw in shock and slowly whisper one word…”WOW!”
That “WOW!” was the reaction last night, although rather than a slow whisper, it was a loud constant roar from a watching Celtic crowd in Paradise and no doubt all Celts all over the world were reacting the same when Callum “One of our own” MacGregor marked his 150th appearance with a rifling right foot strike into the roof of the Zenit keepers net.
What a night.
What a performance.
This was Fortress Parkhead once more. Lest we forget, for all the “Och they are in a winter break!” excuses for Zenit, they had a £20m player on the park and were also the highest scorers in the group stages on this competition. Last night they had one shot which Dora the Explorer swiped away whilst lying on the deck smoking a cigar and sipping a cocktail( Are you sure about this? – Ed)
Hands up, I thought we would struggle. I didn’t see how we would raise our game enough from recent performances and feared that if Zenit turned up, we could be played off the park. I couldn’t have been more wrong. With a line-up surprise with Kouassi and MacGregor starting and a formation change of a diamond in the middle, Brendan had his side lined up perfectly and picked the perfect personnel to execute the winning game plan.
This was the Celtic we loved from last season and showed how a manager can influence players. We had plenty of changes to our accustomed stars of 2017 season.. starters included De Vries, Ajer, Kouassi, Ntcham ( and Musonda and Odsonne as subs of course) but the play was sensational and the pressing, harrying, passing, composure and drive were all perfect and a tribute to the work done at Lennoxtown.
Time for some ratings..
One great save with his feet and then a masterclass in passing the ball from the keeper. Already had a chat with a colleague today who said “I thought Dembele was amazing winning every ball!” and I then pointed out how De Vries was the guy placing the ball perfectly onto Dembeles chest or head, often under pressure from a Zenit forward no less. Hopefully this performance will renew confidence in the keeper with the Celtic doubters. 8/10
A wonderful first half saw our young left back rampage up and down the park. Tierney was turning the Zenit right back in and out and would then whizz the ball across goal hoping for a Celtic toe to get on the end. A more composed second half as Zenit tried to retain the ball more and had one “lost man” moment but a great showing overall 8/10
Often derided by many but again showed his class and composure last night. Kept the ball moving and made himself available when needed. Fed the ball to broony, Kouassi and Forrest where possible and had a great double sliding tackle in the second half to remind Zenit there was no way through the Celtic back line. 7/10
Solid at the back when defending but had 2 bombscare moments when passing the ball directly to a Zenit player on the half way line. Alls well that ends well and his marshalling at the back helped ensure we kept a clean sheet. 7/10
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, cometh the bhoy. Outstanding performance from the lad who should be the future of the Celtic defence. Composed on the ball and ready to bring it forward into midfield, Ajer also got stuck in with a great tackle and remonstration down in the bottom left corner that reminded me of a Johann Mjallby in his day. He even made the initial tackle for the move that led to the goal too. 9/10
I thought he was looking a little lost positionally in the first half, especially tracking back as often found himself standing next to James Forrest when it seemed he should have been across the park a little more. Overall though he was great, putting in robust tackles and as game went on he just grew and grew into the game. Great to see another young guy demanding the ball from centre backs allowing Scott Brown a rest from such duties. Has really reinforced his chances of getting a lot more gametime as we head into seasons end. 8/10
Hugged the right touch line and had a few good runs, one in particularly will still be causing the Zenit players nightmares after being twisted in and out within his own 18 yard line. A few shots on goal and worked hard all night, helping to cover down the right hand side when needed. 7/10
What can you say? When Broony plays, Celtic play and bhoy did he play last night. A masterclass in twisting, turning, passing, teasing opposition and being in the right place at the right time. Helped cover the defence as well as pulling strings in the middle, amazing to watch. 9/10
Everyone remembers big Victor Wanyama and his strength, I reckon even big Vic would struggle to get the ball of Olivier Ntcham. The guys ability to turn or shoulder through tackles, often 2 opponents at a time is amazing and he had a great game last night even if his set pieces were disappointing. His drive and intelligence are brilliant to watch and along with Broony he can help bring Kouassi on and what a midfield combination we could be looking at then. 8/10
Playing as the solo striker looked like a forlorn task before the game. Dembele just said “bring it on” and played a blinder. Often holding of 2 defenders, he won almost every ball and brought his team mates into the game and helped make the goal. Still coming back to full fitness by the looks of it but he will soon be firing goals home for sure. Scott MacDonald on Sportsound was singing his praises loudly after the game and he knows what it takes to be a decent Celtic forward on a European night. 8/10
Lets save the best till last. A truly outstanding performance, especially in the first half by the guy making his 150th appearance. What a way to celebrate that achievement, and with his right foot, “I thought he used that to stand on” said a celtic team mate. Callum ran, harried, dribbled and passed impeccably in the first half and then in the second chased and drove forward whenever possible, resulting in being in the exact position needed when wee Charly sent the lob pass over. Wonderful finish and a credit to a guy who is a credit to Celtic and never complains, sulks, hides or disappoints even when finding himself on rotation. 10/10
“pass it ya greedy bastard!” was the cry behind me as wee Charly went on that wavy run that would set up the goal. Amazing feet and vision and will only get better. The way he celebrated the goal was as much a joy to watch as his performance, good times are ahead for all concerned and “Theres no better place for him to be right now!” was Glenn Hoddles perfect summation of wee Charly and Celtics loan love-in. 7/10
On for 10 minutes for Dembele ( booked for the slowest walk off ever) and ran and ran and also held the ball up well. Did enough to merit a start at the weekend with Dembele possible rested / protected for next weeks return leg in Russia. 6/10
This was the best Celtic performance I have seen from a Rodgers side. I don’t care about the opposition for the execution and tactics were truly a joy to watch and admire. Everyone of the players knew their role and executed it perfectly with Brendan giving constant guidance on the sidelines. The tactics were spot on and chances were made, Zenit were nullified and Celtic dominated at home which is exactly what we expect and love. Every fan watching may have a sore neck after a night of nodding in appreciation at Rodgers sides performance and its all credit to the manager and his team for a clinical professional showing.
The run to celebrate the goal was a joy too. 10/10
What a night and what a showing from the Celtic fans. A great Walk On, a magic Russki style Tifo from the Green brigade, Song after song, Player shout out after player shout out. Standing ovations for half time, substitutions and full time, and the celebrations for the goal was only beaten by a great “in the heat of Lisbon” which lit up the stadium and seemed to spur the side on even more. Brilliant all round. 10/10
Here is how the world see us on such nights…