“Haw driver I’ve been staunin here since February waiting for an away win.”
“Nae worries pal hang fire there’s another one coming up the road behind me.”
International windows are always an infuriating interlude in any season. This time around the general feeling, despite getting the away monkey off the back at Pittodrie, was this one was a more than welcome interruption.
This break allowed Celtic and Ange Postecoglou to take advantage of father time mending weary and injured limbs, as well as catching breath in a punishing fixture calendar, alongside reaffirming a philosophy that was in needing of some fine tuning and reinforcements.
And so it proved today as Celtic emerged victorious at Fir Park, and not only managed to win, they did so with the balance between the much called for pragmatism and much lauded style being evidenced in equal measure, as two wonderful goals and a clean sheet to boot were delivered.
From an attacking perspective Celtic’s opening goal coming 17 minutes in was a thing of sheer beauty. Tom Rogic delivered the artistically delivered exceptional defence splitting through ball that Jota executed in a fashion that mirrored the supply, as his left footed shot surprised Kelly in the Motherwell goal, who had already set himself for the Portuguese winger to cross and was left looking somewhat foolish. It was a goal of real invention, and for a Celtic team much derided for performances on the road it was the ideal shot in the arm.
Indeed, the only interruption to Celtic’s attacking flow in that first half came courtesy of Willie Collum’s six-minute substitution as he fell to the pace of the Celtic play and succumbed to a muscle injury. Meanwhile as a fortnight previous his refereeing colleague Madden had taken the tactical approach of breaking up play and calling for free kicks to catch a breath and preserve his stretching muscles. Keep an eye on similar refereeing tactics in the weeks ahead folks as match officials attempt to camouflage their inabilities to keep up with the pace of Celtic’s ferocious intent.
And if you though the extent of the artist’s brush strokes had been reached with Jota’s goal, which sent Celtic in a goal to the good to the good at the break, you had another think coming. As Kyogo fed Jota who in turn found Turnbull and on his own stomping ground, where every blade of grass and every possible angle came as second nature, the on form Celtic playmaker found the net with the sort of goal you see once or twice a season if you are lucky. Indeed, if you were in the 3900 who were fortunate enough to get ticket for the away end this afternoon, count yourself lucky to have witnessed live the sort of finish the Del Piero’s and Baggio’s of years gone buy would have had in their individual top 20.
Not that you knew it from Turnbull, as despite his cut across swerving effort, Turnbull showed a level of respect to a previous employer, and club he supported, that was as admirable as the incredible strike that put Celtic two goals up an ultimately won the game for the Hoops.
But it wasn’t all about invention today, although it was that which ultimately won the game. Instead, special mentions must go to captain Callum McGregor, returning from international duty no doubt on a high, who controlled tempo and supported colleagues throughout, Carter Vickers who was the solid defensive backbone Celtic have long needed and Kyogo, who although quiet as an attacking threat, was the first point of a pressing defence that stood steady through its spine today and delivered that long awaited assurance through the middle of this Celtic team.
There should be further mentions for the strength and endeavour of Tony Ralston and the balance Boli Bolingoli also brought to the side, who despite the blatant handball missed by substitute ref Fordyce, performed admirably enough to suggest there may even me a redemption story brewing in Celtic’s left back berth.
Make no mistake, despite the long-awaited London Buses approach of waiting for an away win, Celtic delivered back-to-back on the road victories today on a ground of one of the best performing sides in Scotland this season.
A late Hearts leveller at Ibrox can only have added to the confidence of both the players and a support, who once again were just as important this afternoon as any player who pulled shirt over their head today.
There is something starting to take shape at Celtic and this afternoon’s win at Fir Park may well be one of those moments we all look back upon as a sliding doors moment.