The hottest day of the year in Scotland produced a carnival display from the Champions particularly in the first half. It was a day of delights from the moment I stepped off the train from Peterborough into the early afternoon tropical heat which was bathing Edinburgh. I’ve been to numerous Celtic games in the capital but it was the first time that I’ve seen so many of our fans hit the city. It was very pleasant to be at the top of the Scott Monument and hearing The Fields of Athenry drift up from Princes Street gardens!! Next stop Murrayfield whilst wondering what the experience of watching Celts play in a rugby stadium would be like. I have to say that it was absolutely outstanding! YNWA reverberated around the stadium making it clear that the atmosphere was going to be special. The Green Brigade were on great form and, on many occasions, the whole stadium was singing or huddling! My view is that it beats Hampden by a mile and I’d happily come here for cup semis and finals. The fans also showed their support for Palestine without transgressing UEFA regs (well done!) and it was good to see Kayal getting a positive response from the fans when he came on.
So we had the sun, the crowd and the stadium….what would the team produce? We didn’t have long to wait as the first half was a joy to watch with a high tempo from the team and some great interpassing. We quickly went into a 2-0 lead with well taken corners being headed back across goal by Mulgrew and Lustig for Virgil to finish off. There were many excellent performances in the first half though I was particularly impressed with the understanding which McGregor and Izzaguire demonstrated down the left wing and this led directly to the third goal. Most of our best attacks in the first half came down this side. Griffiths and Lustig weren’t having the same impact on the right wing though I was impressed with the industry of both. Griffiths is still settling into his new role but I liked his tracking back and the quality of many of his crosses so I think it is worth persevering with him in a wide position. Johansen was also impressive as he bossed the game playing in a deep role in the first half and moving forward in the second half after Kayal had come on.
Deila changed the formation several times in the second half with the most notable change being McGregor moving to the right and Matthews being given a marauding role down the left. Some of our momentum was lost in this half though the team was still playing a high tempo, pressing game and could have added many more than the one goal that Pukki scored. This goal shows the new confidence of Teemu this season as he rounded the keeper and then took the shot on from a tight angle. Last season I’m sure he’d have tried to pass it inside. Commons was very unlucky not to get in the score sheet, hitting the post and having several shots saved by the keeper. When Henderson replaced Pukki, Commons moved into a centre forward position and we seemed to be playing a 4-4-1-1 with Henderson playing just behind Commons. Ronny seems keen to try out different systems which is good to see.
All in all then it was a great day out in Auld Reekie and I’m looking forward to coming back soon, hopefully to play St Pats!