Five talking points on the Tommy Gemmell CSC on the bus journey home after Celtic’s 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg….
1. Defensively Brendan Rodgers demanded 100% concentration and his players gave him all that and more. The free scoring visitors were restricted to one attempt in the first half that Dorus de Vries saved well.
If Jozo Simunovic was exorcising his own personal demons from Saturday’s calamitous personal performance against Partick Thistle then the Dutch goalkeeper was doing the same after his last European outing in Barcelona last season. A clean sheet will be a source of personal pride for both.
And did you notice Kristoffer Ajer celebrate winning a throw-in near his own goal-line just before half-time. That wee moment showed the fans that a winner would come in the second half.
2. There’s no-one better! Callum McGregor scored against Bayern Munich in the Champions League at Parkhead and tonight he repeated the trick. And it was another very special goal from tonight’s man of the Match. The build-up for the goal was as sensational as his finish was spectacular and it was no more than he deserved for the player who is a product of the Celtic youth academy.
It does my head in hearing the mounting criticism he had received over the past few months as the team struggled for Real form. Tonight Calmac kept the ball moving and probed continually at the Russians. He combined with Forrest superbly in the first half and that so nearly gave Celtic the breakthrough their play deserved.
But when Charly Musonda chipped that ball into his path with the Russians out on their feet, the control, the finish, just magical son! What a goal!
3. Charly is our darling! Who had doubts about the lightweight, ineffective number 67 after Saturday’s nothing performance against Thistle? Who was surprised that he was benched tonight? Then who was surprised when he was the first sub to come on as Celtic looked for a winner? Surely not HIM? What about our top scorer and current player of the year Scotty Sinclair? Bring him on!
That’s why Brendan Rodgers makes the decisions and what a sound move this was. From a defensive position on the touchline near the Zenit bench, with his back to goal and their players all over him he broke free started an attacked, followed through and played the pass of the night to Calmac, who finished in style.
The Celtic players all ran to Calmac at the North Stand side but did you see Charly jump up and down with joy on his own at the other side? Fabulous stuff!
4. The Celtic support were tremendous, From a very special rendition of YNWA before kick-off, the Glasgow’s Green and White, the 67 minute tribute to the Lions, a brilliant Let’s All Do the Huddle and 92 minute’s of roaring support. The team did us proud tonight and we returned the favour. Good luck to the 700 Bhoys going to St Petersburg next week.
5. Zenit blanked and that zero could cost them dear. 1-0 is a very tricky result for them and Celtic will fancy their chances of snatching an away goal in the return. Brendan Rodgers talked down our chances before this game but Celtic emerged deserved winners and it could have been more. The players will believe that they can score in St Petersburg.