Carl Starfelt’s first Celtic goal: not pretty, but certainly significant

It may have taken 50 appearances to arrive, but Carl Starfelt’s first goal for Celtic in yesterday’s outstanding 5-0 win at Kilmarnock was certainly worth the wait, even if – as Ange Postecoglou pointed out post-match – it wasn’t the most pleasing on the eye of Celtic’s five goals in Ayrshire.

With Kyogo completing a fine team move for the opening goal, Jota causing a near tsunami as fans worldwide jumped from their seats and landed on the floor simultaneously for the second, and Moritz Jenz rightly celebrating an overhead kick like a winner in a cup-final, only to see Giakoumakis better his effort for the fifth, Starfelt’s goal – coming after two stabbed efforts and a goalkeepers save in between – was hardly vintage stuff, yet it was certainly the feel-good moment of the match.

Starfelt – mostly outside of the Celtic support these days – remains something of a vilified figure in certain quarters, this despite a near faultless campaign post winter break. As Celtic, aided immeasurably by the Carter-Vickers and Starfelt defensive partnership, regained their Scottish title on the back of free-flowing football, but also with a rear door bolted tight, something Carl Starfelt more than played his part in ensuring.

Indeed, all that was missing for Starfelt last season was that first goal for Celtic. This time around the wait was over moments into his first game back after picking up an injury whilst on international duty last season, and his manager alongside the Celtic support was delighted to see the big Swede grab his first goal in the Hoops, with Ange Postecoglou – as reported in the Scotsman – even claiming the scrappy effort was ‘the most significant’ of the five goals Celtic rattled past Derek McInnes’ Killie side.

“He has worked really hard in rehab. He was really frustrated,” Ange noted.  “After such a strong season for us last year, he went away on international duty and got injured and missed pretty much all of the pre-season for us.

“He has worked really hard to get himself back to a position where he is available again. Credit to him, he is a really good pro. He comes in every day and works really hard in training and he’s a really strong team-mate.

“I am really pleased for him to get a goal, he has been trying really hard. It was probably the ugliest of the five but probably the most significant.”

Postecoglou, evoking the spirit of Gordon Strachan’s ‘right good teammate’ mantra in his post-match comments regarding Starfelt’s contribution to the Celtic cause, is quite right to acclaim his central defensive signing from Ruben Kazan.

The big fella certainly seemed to get it tight in his early days at Celtic, yet after a settling in period every player deserves but not everyone gets, Starfelt proved himself an excellent acquisition – although Michael Stewart may still not agree.

This season competition has arrived in the shape of the so far impressive Moritz Jenz and the early season form of Academy graduate Stephen Welsh. As such, having to contend with injury, whilst the competition for places heated up, must have been concerning for Starfelt.

What better way then, to announce your return to the limelight than score your first goal in fifty games for Celtic, in a 5-0 rout at a stadium – and on a plastic pitch – that has been far from a happy hunting ground for Celtic teams in the recent past.

It was the perfect way for Carl Starfelt to confirm reports of his demise may have been somewhat exaggerated, and he certainly looked one happy Bhoy yesterday when he announced just that with Celtic’s fourth goal.

As Postecoglou rightly pointed out, it may not have been pretty, but it was certainly significant.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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