Stjarnan 1 Celtic 4
Finsan (7) Bitton (33), Mulgrew (49), Griffiths (88), Johansen (90)
At last, on my ninth European away game, a Celtic victory!! After 7 minutes I wasn’t betting on it though as sloppy play and an aversion to tackling resulted in Finsan scoring. The fact that we were losing was made to feel surreal as we seemed to be playing on a Junior Football ground. Thankfully there was no hedge for the ball to be stuck on!
The first half was a strange affair as our aversion to tackling was exceeded only by our aversion to shooting. We dominated possession but, like last week, tried to walk the ball through a crowded penalty area rather than shoot. The small travelling support (around 150 by my reckoning ) were getting more and more frustrated and a goal was needed to calm the nerves. At this stage it did look like our best chance would come from a set piece and so it proved with a lovely header by Bitton from a Johansen corner. As we approached half time we seemed to be playing with more confidence. GMS was getting better service and started to run more directly at the defenders. Mulgrew was also playing steadily meaning that Stjarnan weren’t getting the joy attacking down our left as they had against Izzy last week. We do need another left back though who will challenge Izzy for his place.
The second half started brightly with Charlie’s well taken shot and we could all relax at that point and start to think of Qaragad. We undoubtedly looked much more likely to score when Griffiths came on; he makes intelligent runs and his shots are usually on target. Unlike Ciftci who is trying a bit too hard to score at the moment and a combination of bad luck, good goal keeping and rushed shots means that we are still awaiting his first goal. Two late goals put a more realistic score line on the game with GMS laying Griffiths goal on a plate and Johansen finishing off a lovely move with a sweet shot. Johansen hasn’t yet fully got back into the groove yet but he never hides, always perseveres and has already scored two goals in two games so who am I to complain?!
Overall this was an improved performance on the first leg and it was good to win 4-1 away from home despite being a bit sloppy at times. The draw hasn’t been kind to us for our next game though and we’ll need another step up in our level of play to progress to the play off. Can’t wait!!
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