WELL that was a bizarre night at Paradise. Celtic lost the battle with the Austrians but won the war against the Germans thanks to the splendid Norwegians – Wood you believe it!
Celtic’s own Norwegian Kristoffer Ajer had an eventful evening – he came off the bench to replace the Swedish star Mikael Lustig, who had suffered a head-knock, he almost cost Celtic a goal in the first half when with an horrific defence splitting pass(unfortunately it was The Celtic defence) but a fine save from Craig Gordon kept the scoreline blank. He was also involved in a remarkable miss that could as it turned out have earned Celtic the point they thought they needed. If he’d simply left it, it looked like it was going in so it was a remarkable clearance!
Salzburg bossed that first half and Gordon was the principal reason why there was no damage inflicted. The half time whistle was a welcome relief and at that stage, with the other game also goalless, Celtic were on course for qualification.
Scott Brown came on the add some resistance, replacing Scotty Sinclair who got caught on his heels just before the break and therefore failed to get on the end of a James Forrest cross. It would have been undeserved to say the least.
With Lustig already off due to injury, Ryan Christie also suffered what looked like a horrible injury early in the second half. He was stretchered off and received a well deserved standing ovation. Oliver Ntcham was introduced to the midfield battle that Celtic were also losing.
The inevitable happened when Salzburg went ahead and RB Leipzig had gone ahead in the other match. Celtic thought that they needed a goal but a major error from Craig Gordon – whose distribution is still a concern – gifted the visitors a second.
It looked over for Celtic on the night and in the group.
But they kept plugging away. Ajer missed that sitter, Benkovic went to centre forward and won the penalty and Ntcham became the third Celtic player in a row to miss from the spot – although he did net the follow-up.
But the real drama by this time was happening in the stands and a huge roar went up signalling good news from Leipzig. Rosenborg had equalised so if things stayed that way Celtic would end up on 9 points and RB Leipzig on 7.
Play raged on but Celtic Fans were busy trying to access the stadium wifi or use 4G to find if Rosenborg could hold on and when the final score was confirmed as 1-1 in that game, The Celtic roar was heard.
Thanks to everyone for getting behind the tribute to Leigh Griffiths on the 9th minute – it was very special.
Celtic are through and the good news is we can’t draw Salzburg who are a very decent team.
Too many of our players had an off night, there’s no point in naming them here. And don’t click on those clickbait sites that specialise in slagging out players – don’t give them the hits.
We have had our share of glorious failures over the years in European football. Tonight we got a bit of luck and we’re through.
Well done Rosenborg!
Well done Celtic!
Oh and words I thought I’d never say…well done Rapid Vienna!