CL Match report: Benfica v Celtic

Benfica 2: 1 Celtic

A goal in either half last night was enough for Benfica to leapfrog Celtic in the CL group stages. After the valiant Barca double header performances, this was all just a step too far for Lennys Bhoys. Benfica controlled the game and while Celtic scored from a Sammi header at a corner,  other than that they rarely threatened the Benfica keeper.

The game kicked off under heavy rain and the slick surface was perfect for the fast sleek movement of the Portuguese outfit. From the start they took the game to Celtic and duly scored in just under 7 minutes.  Celtic failed to clear the ball out on the left and it came across the box for John Ola to step in and strike the ball passed a hopeless Forster.

Celtic took their time to find their way in the match and players like Scott Brown and Victor Wanyama were struggling to get a foothold. Eventually though the Celts did make it up the park and duly equalized on 32 minutes from a standard Celtic CL Set piece. As Charlie Mulgrew swung over a perfect cross,  Gary Hooper did a fine job in standing his ground, which just happened to be in front of the Benfica keeper, and this allowed Sammi to head down and home at the back post. 5 European away games and 5 goals..who said Sammi is inconsistent?

 

 

Benfica seemed rather confused that a Celtic side which had been chasing red-tinged shadows and constantly under pressure had managed to score and the game lumbered to the half time whistle. The Celtic fans danced and sang within the Estadio Da Luz and knew the club were within 45 minutes of securing Champions League football after Xmas.

Spartaks dumping by Barcelona earlier in the day guaranteed that Celtic would still be playing in Europe come the Spring of 2013.   Celtic fans around the Globe prayed that Lenny and his crew could lift the team for one last mammoth effort and see out the game.  Sadly it was not to be.

This signs were there before the second half had even began.First Charlie Mulgrew failed to show in the second half,  he had played the first half feeling unwell and stayed in the dressing room with Kayal taking his place.

Then on the hour mark the laboured Scott Brown sat on the surface and signalled he could not continue. The impact of Browns hip injury and lack of match fitness were clear for all to see.  Kris Commons replaced Brown but at that point in time,  Celtic really needed another Wanyama style player to help curb the constant waves of attack coming from Benfica.

It seemed that at some point something had to give and it duly did when centre half Garya volleyed home a knock down to put Benfica ahead and into 2nd place in the CL Group. The initial danger seemed to have been cleared when Fraser Forster punched a cross away but when it was floated back in, one Benfica Centre half headed the ball down to another and Celtic faced defeat.

A final rally with Tony Watt coming on resulted in a few half chances but nothing of real note. A low shot from distance and a hard drive across the box  which was screaming for a touch were all the Young Slayer of Barca could offer.

It was too little too late. In truth, the best team won. Benfica were faster, fitter and far more comfortable on the ball. No Complaints. The Learning curve continues for Celtics Management and players. Its all on the Spartak game. We need to get a better result than Benfica get in the Camp Nou, albeit without the suspended Wanyama. If we had been offered this current scenario at the initial Draw then we would have gratefully snapped it up. Its a credit to the side’s performances and progress that we even feel any sense of disappointment after this defeat.

This game in Lisbon could well be a blessing in disguise as it did help highlights the fragility in a talented but tired squad. Celtic looked fatigued and a few players were literally on their last legs ( Scott Brown now out for up to 3 months!). With European football a certainty next Spring, Lenny can push for the purchasing of another defensive minded midfielder while other players get a well deserved and very much needed rest over Xmas.  Fringe Players in the SPL games, your time is coming!

ETims MOTM : Kelvin Wilson – had a great game and while he lost his man for the 2nd goal his progress this season has been very impressive.

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8 years ago

Desi

“It was too little too late. In truth, the best team won. Benfica were faster, fitter and far more comfortable on the ball. No Complaints. The Learning curve continues for Celtics Management and players. Its all on the Spartak game. We need to get a better result than Benfica get in the Camp Nou, albeit without the suspended Wanyama. If we had been offered this current scenario at the initial Draw then we would have gratefully snapped it up. Its a credit to the side’s performances and progress that we even feel any sense of disappointment after this defeat.”
“This game in Lisbon could well be a blessing in disguise as it did help highlights the fragility in a talented but tired squad. Celtic looked fatigued and a few players were literally on their last legs…..”

I do not believe there is a lot more to be said. You have certainly summed up how I saw it admirably. I hope supporters feel mere disappointment this morning and not despair. No pain, no gain and we are gaining by the game in the C.L. I am still optimistic, no confident, we will get there. I honestly do not see Benfica defeating Barca and we should do it against Spartac at Parkhead.

H H

8 years ago

SPARTAK – imagine, a C in Russian :>))

Diegoinhoops
8 years ago

Benfica are an average team, some good individuals granted, but we if we had played even decent last night we ‘d be in the last 16 this morning, they gave the ball away as much as we did for spells, and it was our poor judgement at times and them getting more than their fair share of luck (3-4 deflections fell for them for before it got to the wingers foot for 1st goal after AM turned into spaghetti). Maybe im unfairly judging all our opponents against Barca but that was a game we might have won never mind drawn on another night.

However Europe in the new year…Well done lads

8 years ago
Reply to  Diegoinhoops

Diegoinhoops

You may well be absolutely right that we could if not even should have won or at least drawn last night. Thankfully you made your last statement, though. Given where we are at the moment, I think it is beyond start of the season expectations. I am keeping my chin up anyway, even though it might not be a safe ploy should someone have a go.

H H

Iljas Baker
8 years ago

Diegoinhoops hit it on the nail. Barcelona were eminently beatable last night. They looked average (good average mind you) apart from some nice individual touches. Sami’s goal apart he clearly was off the pace as was Brown and Mulgrew both of whom should probably not have started. There wasn’t an ounce of creativity in midfield and nothing therefore happening in the centre or down the wings. Oh how we missed Forrest on his game. I grow more and more nervous about Ambrose as he seems to be in the mould of those centre backs who think they are better than they are. Wilson to the rescue on many occasions last night and Big Fraser. I think they team knew they weren’t really ready for this match hence their nervousness. Questions for me: should only the truly fit players have started and shouldn’t we have parked the bus at 1-1? We were defensive but only because we were forced to be but we didn’t park the bus the way we did against Barca. Let’s hope we have a fit team for Spartak.

bogbhoy
8 years ago

Poor performance, far too negative yet again. Mulgrew, Brown and Samaras in midfield does not work, it’s hard enough to carry one of these three especially in Europe never mind in the same area of the park although Samaras did play as a ‘striker’ for a lot of the game last night. Barcelona suited Lennons negative tactics perfectly as he could get the team to all out defend and hope for a great Mulgrew delivery at some point. We have some good players now thanks to our scouts, i’d like to see Neil leave so we could make the most of the talent we have as I believe he’s holding us back. We’ve been terrible domestically and lucky in Europe with the points we did take despite being outplayed. We have players there who can hold their own against the likes of Benfica if we have a proper coach who knows how to do something other than sit back and then defend on the counter attack. smith at the huns got pelters from us all and this site for the same tactics and rightly so. It would make my Christmas if Neil Lennon left Celtic taking Brown and Samaras with him, his style of play is insufferable.

Iljas Baker
8 years ago

Well bogbhoy, you are certainly right about the midfield – not one of these three is really technically good and cannot be called creative. We are missing someone like Nakamura. But I’m astonished you are blaming Lennon given that he’s been very constrained in his decision-making by injuries. Give us your team selection then and I’m sure hoping it doesn’t include Paddy McCourt because it’ll ruin your credibility. Personally I think it makes good sense to be ultra defensive at times. Tuesday may have been one of them given the state of the team, especially at one-one. I have always assumed that the team don’t play attractive football for long spells or with any consistency is simply because they can’t , not because of Lennon. Celtic’s passing is pretty poor, very poor under pressure and the movement off the ball is really stifling play. It’s the players that lack technical ability and lack of confidence follows. We are fooled at times by playing in the SPL and perhaps by Lennon’s comments that the team played great after a pretty mediocre performance. Anyway, interested in your team selection.

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