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Champions League sweet music

By August 18, 2016No Comments

There was a moment in this game that Celtic fans must have thought, oh no, not again!

Almost a year to the day, Celtic, under Ronny Deila, were cruising two goals up against Malmo in Glasgow and then it all collapsed.

At Celtic park on Wednesday night, something similar looked on the cards as the ‘hoops’ were pegged back from three goals up to a scoreline of 3-2.

However, the difference this year, is this Celtic ship is not clueless and rudderless under Brendan Rodgers.

As soon as the second goal hit the back of the net, he reacted and made changes to the line up. Off came Callum MacGregor, quickly followed by Tom Rogic and on went Nir Biton and Moussa Dembele to take the game back to Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Celtic park was rocking, as the rare sound of the Champions League theme greeted the players. The noise inside the ground brought back memories for many of that magical night when Celtic defeated Barcelona by 2-1.

The home side raced into a three goal lead through Rogic and the ever deadly Leigh Griffiths and I thought at that point it was done and dusted.

I’m almost certain the Celtic board shared that view, as thoughts undoubtedly wandered to all that lovely money on the way from the lucrative Champions League group stages.

However, old habits die hard and Celtic’s back line, even without Efe Ambrose, had a crazy two minutes that almost killed off any notion of Messi or Ronaldo returning to Glasgow anytime soon.

One quick breakaway and shot, followed 120 seconds later by another strike from the edge of the box and Celtic were on the ropes at 3-2.

Fair play to Rodgers, he offered a little insight into his mentality after the match by revealing he would rather take risks to win games by 4-2 or 5-2, rather than try to close it out with a slender one goal advantage for the return leg.

Driven on by their fit and tireless captain Scott Brown, Celtic sub Dembele made it 4-2 and then Brown chipped in with his own strike to lift the roof off Celtic park and put Rodgers’ team in a commanding position for the return leg.

This Celtic side is starting to show signs of Rodgers ethos of high pressing, quick passing and entertaining football.

The team are still two or three short in my book and if you listen to the manager regularly, he shares that view and wants bodies in before the window closes.

A 5-2 scoreline from the first leg should accelerate the loosening of the purse strings to grant his wishes in the transfer market.

Listening to managers and players can be so revealing if you read between the lines of their answers. Captain Scott Brown, when asked in an after-match interview if he was panicking when it went 3-2, quickly replied no, this team are fitter and less likely to panic.

That spoke volumes for the change a year can make in a player and a team with a change of manager.

Barring a catastrophe in Israel next week, Celtic fans will once again hear the Champions League theme music belting out of the speakers in the group stages this season.

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