3 goals within a blistering 26 minutes of the first half had the 3 points well wrapped up in Perth last night against St Johnstone.
The second half would be like blisters on the eyes but we can come to that later.
After Hearts victory on Sunday had handed the Title Race advantage back to Celtic, the question was how would Neil Lennons men react.
The answer was 45 minutes of pure scintillating football that completely blew Tommy Wrights men in blue away.
Celtic played with a swagger, drive and movement that was a true joy to watch. On a wet cold night up in Perth, this was football, The Celtic Way!. The game could have been tricky but the Saints side didn’t know what hit them as the Celtic side simple ran right over them on the way to a 3 nil victory.
The 3 goals were all impressive.
The first had Ntcham heading home after lovely play on the right of the Saints box between Eddy and the returning (and bearded!) James Forrest who collected Eddys return pass and sent in a perfect cross for the advancing Olivier to score the opener.
The second then saw Calmac do the soft shoe shuffle and pass to his right where Forrest then cut in and struck the ball home, you know, in that Forrest Way. A great return to the side for Prestwick’s finest after a recent absence, possibly enforced whilst his wee face recovered from the extra beard weight.
The final goal saw lovely calm set up play on the left with Calmac and the very impressive Greg Taylor. Calmac played Taylor into a yard of space and Taylor swung in a great cross, one of many that night, and there was Griff to guide the ball home with the composed ease of a confident striker.
It could have easily been 5 or 6 in the first half..Taylors crosses went a-begging, Griff had a header edge just wide and the Saints keeper was constantly busy.
The only blemish in that first half was a water bottle being thrown towards the Saints goal. At first I thought it was from an irate Tommy Wright on the Saints bench but BT cameras showed it coming from a Celtic fan area. Just idiotic.
Then we had the 2nd half.
I confess i missed the kick off as I had switched over to Italian football rather than listen to Ally McCoist. When I did switch back, the game clock read 46 mins and I couldnt quite believe what I was seeing.
Celtic had possession on the right and Moritz Bauer had somehow appeared to come on and he played the ball over to a charging Kris Ajer on the left wing. Ajer then played the ball back to the new Celtic Centre Half…Scott Brown!
It turned out Mr Jozo Glass had been taken off at the break but rather than swap Bauer in to the 3-5-2 or move to a 4-4-2, Lenny somehow just said “Go and have a laugh Broony” and put the captain to the right of a back 3 and put the defensive right-back to right wingback even though Bauer is ineffective there and the move also robbed our midfield of arguably its key component.
It was a shambles. We lost all our shape and composure and worse our direction. Saints came close to scoring a few times which was annoying given this game should have been a cricket score for us.
I have to admit I was annoyed. Some folk on Twitter were saying “chill” and even in todays Diary Ralph makes the note that the game was done and who cares if the side were taking it easy with a tough schedule ahead, but it was a gilt edged opportunity to score a barrel load and get that goal difference up and away.
It was also a perfect opportunity to grab a few more goals, get more gelling amongst the front 5 and also give the new Striker Klimala a good 20-30 mins on the pitch.
We had a flat side and the poor show culminated in a shambles near the end.
After Celtic fans had been crying out for 75 minutes for our new striker to get some decent game time,, Lenny told Klimala to get stripped.
The plan was for Klimala to replace Eddy, however right before the switch, Mikey Johnston who had come on for Griff a little earlier, was grimacing and grabbing his knee after clashing with a Saints player just before the substitution was to be made.
Lenny paused the switch and asked “Mikey you ok?” a few times and Johnston replied yes.
Lenny needed to know as Ryan Christie would have replaced Mikey if needed, but the returning Christie was told to remain seated and the original substitution plan would be executed.
A few minutes later, with 10 mins left, on came Klimala for Edouard and Johnstone stayed on the pitch with Eddy retiring. .
A few minutes later down on the pitch sat Johnstone and off he duly came leaving us with 10 men on the park.
Lenny’s anger was captured in a “Fuck off” to the young forward who noted the response and headed for the tunnel.
It basically summed up a shambolic second half but hey ho, lets remember the positives.
The game finished 3-0 and 3 away points secured.
It was an amazing first half display and Griffiths and Edouard are showing that good players can play together. A shocker that one eh?
In goal, big Fraser continues to keep the opposition at bay despite being able to nap during games and in front of him Ajer and Jullien clear the lines.
In midfield. Ntcham is shining and MacGregor keeps everything ticking over along with Broony who helps turning the ball over or winning it back.
Out wide it was good to see Forrest get a goal and an assist, still not sure about the beard mind but good luck to our Dashing Blade.
The highlight of the night was on the left though. Greg Taylor was excellent. He ran all night, tackled and covered where need be, and was brilliant going forward, overlapping and crossing. Our first choice left back has been found, call off the search.
Its onwards to Hamilton and if we can get 3 goals in the first half then I wont complain or even sigh…lets pray no weird tinkering from Lenny from now on.