Celtic Labour Into the Europa League last 32

Scored 2 should have made it 4-4 with late header

Scored 1 should have made it 4-4 with late header

Zagreb 4-3 Celtic and a game that in reality didn’t matter, a strange game in the sense that apart from a dreadful start to the 2nd half it’s a game we should have won. I know Ronny wanted to rest players and give youth a shot at European football but for me tonight, and I don’t like saying this, Commons made Johansen less effective. The first half we shot ourselves in the foot twice with two goals given away by Adam Matthews and a few saves by Gordon also kept Zagreb at bay. 

Zagreb took the lead on 14 minutes when a cross to the back post left Matthews exposed, he jumped in allowing Pjaca to fire Zagreb ahead. 10 minutes later it was 1-1 when a Virgil Van Dijk free kick looped into the air Commons was first to the dropping ball to head the ball past the keeper, 1-1 and Celtic were starting to dominate. 2-1 and a deserved lead on the half hour mark when Commons’ free-kick cannoned off the bar, Biton headed it back into the mix and Scepovic turned and volleyed it home. 2-1 to Celtic and we were on top at this stage, I was thinking 3-1 we were doing well

For all Celtic’s possession on 40 minutes Zagreb made it 2-2 when awful defending by Matthews took a bad touch in the box instead of clearing allowing  Pjaca to fire home a deflected shot off Biton’s leg, 2-2 and half time. At this stage Celtic looked like we could go and win this game

The 2nd half started and before anyone could sit down and finish a half time beer or cup of tea it was Zagreb 4-2 Celtic. Gordon made two good saves but on 50 minutes a cut back to the edge of our box and the unmarked Brozovic to hammer home from the edge of the box, good finish to be fair but where were the runners tracking back? Things got a lot worse a minute later when Pjaca was allowed to run unchallenged and hammer an unstoppable shot from 25 yards past Gordon and into the far side of goal. 4-2 and game over it seemed

Then as Celtic do we came back into the game, McGregor, Commons and Henderson all had shots saved or just wide, with 80 minutes on the clock cracking one touch football played Izaguirre through he cut it back and it looked like a Scepovic goal but an own goal from Pivaric made the last 10 minutes tense, Celtic gave it a lot in the last 10 minutes and to be fair had we played like this throughout we would have won tonight with key players missing. Scepovic had a brilliant header come off the post on 87 minutes, Henderson chipped the ball over the keeper who done well to tip it over.

Celtic huffed and puffed but in the end bad defending and lack of creativity behind Scepovic didn’t help. I still think we needed Johansen behind Scepovic, Commons although hitting the bar for one goal and scoring himself was very poor tonight, I would always rather see Johansen bombing forward. Biton was good tonight and was my man of the match as he didn’t do too much wrong, he has started the last few games and tonight he done the easy things and made it look easy. We missed Brown and we really miss Lustig and Denayer for sure. 

We were already through but to lose our last 2 group games we did well to progress to the last 32. We will have Guidetti and maybe new players for that round. If we had been told we would finish 2nd and make it to the last 32 before a ball was kicked in this competition we would have taken it. 

Top of the league
Semi Final of the League cup
Still in the Scottish Cup
Last 32 of the Europa League

On paper it looks perfect, but in reality we all know we need to improve in defence, Gordon is saving us time and time again. 
Ambrose gives me chest pains, Scepovic showed tonight he can play and like everyone I hope he can take it from here, he looked like a proper striker tonight