What a way to return to the Champions League group stages! Celtic were magnificent tonight with every player showing courage and no little skill.
When the Champions League music played at the start of the game it hit home just how much we’ve missed these nights. There was no comparison with the Europa League games of the last two years and that was before the game unfolded! It was clear from the beginning that this was not going to be a backs against the wall performance. Celts were on the front foot at every opportunity and were first to most balls. Dembele got us off to a perfect start thanks to a late run from Forrest and, at that point, we looked the most likely to score. City looked to be rocking and seemed to be losing their discipline and shape. They then equalised (slightly fortuitously) and the pattern for the evening was established. I’m not going to go through all the goals as by now you’ll have seen them for yourself but it was “such a joy for us to see” Celtic slug it out with one of the favourites to win the competition.
Qualifying for the CL has given us an opportunity to see how the team can play against the best and tonight we found out. Starting with Dembele. He was outstanding and gave a great display of how to play the loan striker. He won most of the headers, ran intelligently into a space and held the ball up well for the midfield. Oh, and he scored two goals! It was one of the best performances I’ve seen from a Celtic striker in many years. Rogic was imperious in the first half. Confident on the ball, using the space well and setting up KTs “goal”. Sinclair was also confident in his play and was always looking to take the game to City, his first half performance was particularly impressive. Toure had his best game for us (despite the loss of three goals) and it was great to see Gordon back and making some crucial saves. In fairness, I could go through the whole team as nobody was less than excellent.
What impressed me the most though was the attitude of the team. They were completely undaunted by playing against the big names of City and were playing with the confidence that we’ve become used to seeing domestically. And then for Brendan to substitute Griffiths for Bitton said it all. He was playing to win.
We’ve seen many great performances at Parkhead over the years but often, when we’ve got a result, it’s due to a rearguard action where we’ve had little possession. Not tonight. Tonight we competed by trying to out play Man City, and did so often enough to give them the biggest fright they’ve had this season.
Great football and a great result for a young team who will get better. Add in the atmosphere and there’s no better place to be in world football. We’ve come a long way from Molde!!
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