McGregor reflects on captaincy pride, but insists his focus is on return leg

It coincided well for Callum McGregor that his first game as official first-team captain was the first game in which fans were allowed back to Paradise for 15 months, following the numerous lockdowns we have all had to endure as part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The return to Parkhead seemed destined to end in victory, too; an opener from new Israeli signing Liel Abada put the Bhoys’ one goal to the good, and with Celtic knocking on the door for a second, it seemed inevitable that it would arrive.

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However, as was the case last season, defensive frailties cost Celtic the game, with long-serving squad player Nir Bitton getting himself sent off and Vasilas Barkas doing his best impression of David Seaman at the 2002 World Cup, to give FC Midtjylland a rather undeserved 1-1 draw at Parkhead.

McGregor reflected on the untaken chance, stating that he feels his and Ange’s side can easily make amends in Denmark next week.

Speaking to the Daily Record, McGregor realises the effort that his teammates put in given the transition period the club is going through. “We are a little bit disappointed as I felt we deserved to win the game. We had enough chances to win and considering it was out first proper game, the boys gave absolutely everything. We just lacked a wee bit of quality in the final third but the tie isn’t over yet and we will go over to Denmark next week and try to finish the job.”

Ryan Christie in action. Photo Jeff Holmes

“Is it an opportunity lost? A little bit. When we go down to ten men you lose a bit of impetus in the game a bit. They got a man sent off too but we still played a reasonable amount of time with a man down. You can’t be too open in Europe as you lose a goal and then you are chasing it. A draw was maybe a fair result although we had good chances to win it. But we know that we now have another leg to go and do the business.”

What should have been a momentous and rememberable occasion for the Glaswegian-born centre midfielder was slightly marred by the result; however, McGregor will never forget the moment he led his boyhood side out in one of the longest awaited returns to Celtic Park of all time.

Celtic fans in the stands during the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, Photo: Jeff Holmes

“It was amazing to walk out in front of the fans again.We came out the tunnel and you heard the noise. For myself, it was an amazing moment to be captain, but I’d have liked a win. However we have the second leg to go now.”

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