Lille 2 Celtic 2 – Moi Elyounoussi came back well from the panning he deservedly got on Sunday

There are several ways of looking at this one. The pessimists (and goodness knows, there are enough of them around!) will tell us that it is four games now without a win, and that we let a two goal lead slip; the optimists will say that a 2-2 draw away in Europe against the second best team in France is a good result; the realists will say that there was good and bad in this performance, and that the team has still a bit to go yet.

Let us talk about the nice things first. Moi Elyounoussi came back well from the panning he deservedly got from his critics on Sunday. He took both his goals well, his first in particular looking very good indeed and showing the value of shooting whenever you get a sight of goal. There were several other times when he would have done well to remember that. Once in the second half (immediately after the loss of a goal) the folly of not shooting first time and of running the ball across the penalty area thereby allowing the defence to get back was clearly seen.

Another man who came out well was Shane Duffy. His giving away of the penalty (whether or not one thinks it was a penalty – I personally thought it was outside the box) was naive in the extreme, but in the second half he stood up well to the battering that the defence got.

Scott Bain made one awful howler almost at half time and was lucky when the ball hit the bar, but otherwise he, somewhat inelegantly it has to be said, kept them out – which is what he is paid to do. And he saved a penalty! Callum McGregor had another good game, but that more or less goes without saying, does it not? Nice to see our Coronavirus victims, Odsonne Edouard and Nir Bitton back as well.

The less good news concerns Olivier Ntcham who disappeared out of sight for so long in the game, Scott Brown who is possibly now just a little on the slow side for this class of football and Albian Ajeti who was invisible and anonymous, apart from one awful miss.

Diego Laxalt was caught badly out of position for the first goal, yet had some good points as well. Once again the jury needs time to consider, and Jeremie Frimpong again showed his ability to run with the ball, but failed to deliver as much quality ball into the box as we would have liked. One hopes that Kristoffer Ajer is not badly injured, for he was doing well and we need him for Sunday. Lille are not a bad side. They did well to come back and I liked the guy called, funnily enough, Celik!

It would have to be said that this was a lot better than many European performances in the past. The attitude was one of determined resistance rather than expecting to be defeated. For that the Manager deserves a certain amount of credit. The odds, one would have to say, are possibly against qualification from this section but there is a long way to go. We now have the opportunity with the back to back games against Sparta Prague to knock them out of contention while hoping that Lille and AC Milan do some damage to each other. Perhaps it is better to hope that one of them destroys the other.

In any case, what it is all about at the moment is Sunday. Last Sunday showed that there was not really very much between Celtic and Aberdeen in terms of ability and commitment. It is up to Celtic to produce the spark, the moment of brilliance, the iconic moment to win the day. It will be a severe test, but we must not flinch from it. We are looking for “shooting first time” goals and goals from the edge of the box just like we used to do in the “Invincible” season of 2016/17. And the other thing that we must learn not to do is give away free kicks and penalties. Remember we are up against a team on Sunday who are quite good at going down!

David Potter

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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