It was one of those games after which one needs to lie in a darkened room for a while, or in my case, take my dog for a walk in the crisp winter sunshine. It takes a while to compose oneself after such games!
Basically, we got away with one here. It is the sort of game that has happened to us so often in the past in reverse, whereby we have had most of the play, fluffed a few chances to kill the game and then been suckered at the end. It was the other way round today, but that is not to say that we did not deserve a point, nor that we shouldn’t be happy about it.
I felt that the loss of Greg Taylor was a turning point. Up till that point, we were on top, passing the ball around well and quietening the crowd. But then I feel that we should have brought on Alexis Bernabei at left back rather than Josip Juranovic who was on the wrong side of the field and failed to produce anything like the form that we saw in Qatar. The young Canadian had a very impressive debut, I felt.
Even up to half time, I felt that we deserved to be in front. You could not say that about the second half when too many of our guys were second to the ball and seemed to lack the enthusiasm that our rivals possessed for the game. The goals were “infectious” in that the first led to the second. Kris Boyd, apparently, had a few doubts about the penalty. Funnily enough, so did I. And did I miss something here? Did no-one mention VAR in this context? Or is it now just accepted that Celtic never get anything from VAR anyway?
But full marks to Celtic for not giving in, and well done Kyogu for being in the right spot for the equaliser which quietened them! It was a long seven minutes added on time, but we got there in the end, and remain nine points ahead in the League race with now only 18 games to play. One game at a time is always a good maxim and Kilmarnock appear at Parkhead on Saturday.
So where do Celtic stand after today? Strengthened and chastened, I hope. We may well have to face today’s opponents another four times this season. Twice in the League, for certain. Then, given the current form of Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, another meeting in the Scottish League Cup final looks at least a possibility, and the same could well happen in the Scottish Cup. We must therefore be prepared, and show the same enthusiasm that they show. I remain convinced that we have better players, but they seem to have the edge in determination and “wanting to win”. Celtic must equal that!
It was, as everyone kept saying, terrific entertainment. The pundits seemed at one point to change sides with Petrov saying how good Rangers were, and Boyd giving reluctant praise to Celtic. McCoist, say what you want about him, is very good on the dynamics of the game and his analysis of “a lovely touch” and “using the wrong foot” etc. is often spot on. Walker I am not so sure about for I feel he often bends over backwards to attempt to be fair. But there is always a humorous touch about the pair of them.
But the game is over. No real harm done, and thankfully everyone behaved both on the field and off it. I have often felt we give too much importance to such games. You also get three points for beating St Johnstone and Hibs, and hopefully, Kilmarnock on Saturday.