WE are half way through the Europa League Group stages at the moment and that late Leigh Griffiths winner against Rosenborg is all the Celtic have to show for the efforts so far.
Leigh’s header did ensure that we have 3 points and are still very much in contention. With both Red Bull teams having to come to play under the Disco Lights at the Paradise club and only one away game against the disheartened Norwegians then it is fair to say that the first three fixtures were always going to be harder than the second lot.
The reverse of course is true across the city but we’ll leave them to worry about that.
At the start of this Europa League campaign we all recognised that Celtic had to win our home games, would probably need to win in Norway and would struggle to get anything away to Salzburg of Leipzig. Nothing much has changed although Celtic are going into a European match on Thursday having hit some excellent form.
That could be the telling factor in all of this. The Celtic goalkeeper, Craig ‘Lubo’ Gordon – did you see that on Saturday? – certainly is in no mood to write off our chances of progressing to the knock-out stages at the other side of Christmas.
“We believe we are still in the group and there were things we saw from them, and in our performance, that gives us hope in Glasgow,” Gordon said yesterday.
“The home games were always going to be vital for us. We’ve got Leipzig and Salzburg to come here while we always felt we would need to pick up something away from home at some point.
“We haven’t managed to do that so far, but there was some encouragement in Germany. We created chances. We didn’t managed to take them and that’s what you need to do at this level.
“That could be the difference at Celtic Park,” Gordon told the media.
Gordon bemoans the defensive errors that gave Leipzig a couple of cheap goals in the first leg and reckons that the Celtic side will be less generous from now on in this tough group.
“We had a team out in the first game in Germany that was full of legs and willing to cover every blade of grass,” he said.
“We wanted to create chances and try to nick a goal. We almost managed it on a couple of occasions, but there were a few defensive lapses.
“We tried to stick to our game plan and it worked at times. We didn’t score, which we wanted to do, and we were punished at the other end.
“We are trying to compete in the competitions in Scotland, but we want to do well in Europe. We always set out to try to win games, regardless of the competition,” Gordon said.
The big keeper couldn’t be blamed for either of the goals conceded in Germany and he did pull off a few decent saves in the game that got away from Celtic after a decent enough start.
“You never know how important these saves can be. The funny thing was, I didn’t have too many saves over there and they didn’t create that many chances.
“That was the most disappointing thing. It was tough to lose the game the way we did.
“We had chances ourselves. Odsonne Edouard had an opportunity early on and then you look at the one for Olivier Ntcham late on. At 2-1, it would have given us a great last five minutes, but you never know how important these moments will be.
“The goals we conceded were quite difficult to take.
“It’s something that’s happening now and again to us. There was a bit of good fortune in that the ball fell right to their guys in the middle of the goal. They had free shots at it for both goals.”
Also on The Celtic Star today…
‘All things being well, it will be done soon,’ Charlie Christie on his Boy’s new Celtic contract…See HERE.
‘Road to recovery starts now,’ for Young Celtic Star…See HERE.
Boyata’s back in the news, but it’s all about Thursday, Night Fever!…See HERE.
Jim Craig – Goalkeeper Bonnar’s Celtic debut at Shawfield…See HERE.