CELTIC took their revenge on the Romanian Champions Cluj tonight to go clear at the top of the Europa League Group E.
With Lazio coming from behind to beat Rennes 2-1 in Rome there is one stat that stands out – there has been three home wins from four so far and only Celtic has picked up anything on the road. Lazio, Rennes and Cluj have all tried and failed.
Tonight was always going to be extra special and the visitors lacked the ability to bite this determined and hugely talented Celtic side.
The only complaint would be that Celtic limited themselves to just two goals. When Christopher Jullien finds his range he is going to score a right few – tonight he had three wonderful chances but never quite got the breaks in front of goal.
Celtic’s early dominance was rewarded on 20 minutes when a clever pass from Callum McGregor found Bolingoli at the touchline and his inch perfect pass found the head of Odsonne Edouard to open the scoring. Until the French striker headed one in against Kilmarnock a fortnight ago he’d never scored with his head – now he can’t stop.
Scott Brown had one of his finest games in a Celtic shirt. Retribution was in the air and there was no-one more determined than the captain, who had a personal score to settle.
Callum McGregor wasn’t far behind and where Ryan Christie gets that energy from is a complete mystery. He too could have had a goal or two – he certainly deserved one.
Last time Celtic failed to show up in the first half and went off at the break a goal down. This time they dominated Dan Petrescu’s side and should have been further ahead.
James Forrest and the excellent Elhamed were causing all sorts of problems down the right and it was Jamesy who picked out Elyounoussi for the less obvious pass – McGregor was screaming for it – and the Norwegian’s powerful effort just before the hour mark deflected beautifully into the bottom corner to double the lead.
It was no more than Celtic deserved. Cluj, who had been play acting at every tackle, rolling around looking for the referee’s favour. Now at 2-0 they had to speed things up and push forward but that only left loads of space for Celtic and it’s a mystery how another goal or two wasn’t scored by the Hoops.
James Forrest was replaced by Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham came on for Ryan Christie- both deserved their standing ovation.
Odsonne Edouard picked up a stupid booking by kicking the ball away after the whistle had gone. This on top of his yellow in Rennes for simulation means he’s closing in on a suspension – just what we don’t need.
Bayo wasn’t involved tonight as he was suspended for that crazy decision to send him off in Rennes.
Other Celts booked were McGregor and Jullien.
But that aside it was a very satisfying night. Petrescu reckoned that Celtic had big problems the last time the sides met, as he pitched for Neil Lennon’s job. Now it’s Desperate Dan who is left licking his wounds after Celtic comprehensively defeated his team.
It finished Celtic 2 Cluj 0
Man of the Match – Scott Brown