Celtic’s opening Champions League match of the 2023/24 season didn’t go to plan at all. In Rotterdam, the Bhoys were defeated by two goals to nil after going down to nine men.
Things were going to plan until just before the break when Calvin Stengs fired home from a free-kick. It all went downhill from then on in.
After the match, though, Hoops right-back Alistair Johnston took a positive stance. The Canadian international said (Sky Sports): “There is a lot of good things actually to take away from that. Of course the decision making and some learning curves were definitely there for a couple of guys, myself included.”
It was Johnston’s debut in Europe’s premier club competition on Tuesday, and the 24-year-old done himself proud. Johnston was his usual self, being hard in the tackle and willing to drive forward.
As much as playing in the Champions League is positive, Johnston will be eager to do well in the competition. Indeed he and his teammates are looking towards matches at Celtic Park as ones that could play a big part in whether or not Europe after Christmas is secured.
Lazio and Atletico Madrid will both visit Parkhead in the next month. Johnston said: “I think we will be better and we’ve got a couple home matches coming up that are going to be crucial for us getting out the group.”
It was disappointing for everyone of a Celtic persuasion that the Scottish champions did not take anything away from the Netherlands midweek. Brendan Rodgers’ third Champions League campaign in charge of his boyhood club did not get off to the best start, but there are still five matches for things to improve.