Riga 0 Celtic 1 – ‘Any win away from home in Europe is a good one,’ David Potter

Whether we watched this one, listened to it or followed it by text or on the BBC website, it was by no means the most comfortable couple of hours we have ever spent in our lives. Celtic were dominant, but simply could not put it away to finish things off, and how often have we seen a game like that where one team is totally on top, but it is the other team who runs up and scores?

And of course, we have good historical reasons for not wanting a penalty shoot out!

Sadly, European football is often like this, and Celtic simply have to be able to break down a stubborn defence if progress is to be made. But we did eventually break them down, and the goal was a good one. A lovely pass from Christie, a good run up the wing from Frimpong (deservedly described as the best man on the park) and Elyounoussi finished it off – although it looked to me for all the world as if he had mis-kicked it!

Any win away from home in Europe is a good one and we can be grateful and move on. Once again, it has to be said that there was little to criticise in the defence or in the midfield. A “cutting edge” however is still lacking in the forward line, and I would like to see Leigh Griffiths getting a run out some time soon because we simply must put away more of these opportunities. The time will come when we are playing better teams than Riga who will punish us for not taking advantage of the chances that are created.

Jeremie Frimpong is a player of immense talent, and Celtic were once again well served by Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor, although one could not say that there were any real failures. Odsonne Edouard had tough luck once or twice, but it was remarkable how few real chances there were. No-one really missed any sitters or anything like that, and the play, for all Celtic’s superiority, was actually quite dull. Those who invested in Premier Sports might question whether they got their money’s worth! Similarly these Latvians who hired the buses at the back of the left goal might well have wondered why they bothered, but full marks for initiative!

But justice was done at the very end, and we now go to Sarajevo next week. I expect more of the same there, I’m afraid to say, but Hibs on Sunday will be a better game, I think, and possibly a lot tougher.

The other games were sadly predictable. Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove on BBC’s radio “Off The Ball” are forever telling us that Scottish football is NOT all about Celtic and Rangers. Oh, no? Motherwell, James McFadden told us, were all over the Israelis but ended up with a severe hammering, and Aberdeen could not get the better of Sporting Lisbon reserves. Oh dear! After that loss to Motherwell at home last Sunday, the unnecessary transfer of one of their better players and now this, trouble can be expected for Mr McInnes and his merry man when they return to the Granite City. Let’s just hope they don’t go to a City Centre pub to drown their sorrows!

David Potter

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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