What at times was another nervy night for Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers, ended in delight as Brendan Rodger’s men saw out the final stages of their tie versus Rosenborg in composed fashion. In reality once James Forrest had fired Celtic into the lead, a second away goal looked the most likely outcome.
Throughout the ties there were moments where Celtic looked a little off the pace, predominantly due to competitive match fitness, however, and particularly in last night’s game, the confidence in the players’ ability to pass the ball under pressure was there for all to see, even when perhaps the match sharpness wasn’t quite up to speed for this always to succeed.
Barring the early stages of the second half Celtic dominated the tempo of last night’s match, creating plenty more openings than in the sluggish performance at Paradise last week.
The team certainly still need some reinforcements. Whilst Forrest was the hero on the night, and visibly grew in confidence after his fantastic goal, he still struggles in situations given time and space to think about what to do as opposed to relying on sheer instinct. Hopefully that goal gives him the boost he needs to rediscover his early season form from last year, however another creative wide man, capable of scoring goals, is a necessity. (Come on KT, get Paddy to come home!)
The introduction of Griffiths and Rogic in the second period swayed the game in Celtic’s favour with Leigh Griffiths in particular proving the catalyst for our improvement. Leigh put in a tremendous shift holding the ball up, bringing the midfield into play and creating space with intelligent runs innate to a natural centre forward. With Dembele out until September, Griffiths’ importance cannot be underestimated.
Whilst we our yet to come close to finding out blistering form of last season, we now have two weeks to prepare on and off the pitch for the all important play-off round.
Tomorrow morning we will find out who from Qarabağ (AZE), Astana (KAZ), Rijeka (CRO), Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR), Slavia Praha (CZE), will be our next opponents. No tie will be easy, but if we are prepared properly we should be confident of Progres-ing (yes, I’m still not tired of this) into the Champions League group stage for the second year in succession.