Celtic turned in a performance that was more like the team that has gone 41 domestic games without defeat, in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden yesterday.
The 2-0 scoreline flatters the new club, because in reality it could have been more, much more.
An excellent goal from Callum McGregor after 11 minutes, when he coolly side footed the ball past Fotheringham from 18 yards was just reward for the Bhoys, after dominating the early proceedings.
The Hoops were so much on top, the half-time stats showed Celtic didn’t commit a single foul in the first 45, while Sevco didn’t have a single shot on target during the same period. One way traffic from the champions.
With Moussa Dembele pulling a hamstring towards the end of the first half, Brendan put on a more than able replacement in Leigh Griffiths.
And it was Leigh who made the second goal, sprinting on to Paddy Roberts through ball, only to be cleaned out by Sevco full back Tavernier inside the box, for a stonewall penalty.
Scott Sinclair duly dispatched the ball behind Fotheringham to make it 2-0 and end the score for the day, and with it the dreams of those Sevconians who thought lightning might strike twice.
That was NEVER going to happen
So what can we take out of Sunday’s game. Here’s seven things that I took away from it…
- You have to hit a Celtic player with a hatchet to stand any chance of being sent-off. Halliday’s assault on Paddy Roberts would have got him a weekender if he did that on the street.
- Paddy Roberts has matured so much, and has the natural ability to rip defences to pieces.
- Callum McGregor is in Brendan Rodgers’ starting team on merit. His composure for the first goal was Messi like.
- Scott Brown is an outstanding leader of the team, on and off the park.
- Jozo and Dedryck are without doubt our best central defensive pairing. What a difference a year has made to big Boyata!
- Stuart Armstrong still has nice hair.
- The gap is as wide as we want it to be, on and off the park. Celtic strolled around the Hampden pitch bossing the game and upping the tempo when needed. If we keep our concentration and the officials don’t over com-bust, we’ll finish the season not only as Treble winners, but Invincibles.
Within 14 seconds of today’s Scottish Cup semi-final, holders Hibs found themselves a goal down to Aberdeen, after a serious of slack passes left Adam Rooney with only the goalkeeper to beat.
A total lack of concentration gave Neil Lennon’s men a mountain to climb.
How a team can start so lackadaisical is beyond me, especially with so much at stake. If anything, you’d expect the Hibs players to be extra focused.
To make matters worse, their goalkeeper managed to lose a second after half an hour, when Celtic’s Ryan Christie curled a free-kick at his near post.
Two goals behind, Lenny made a substitution that paid dividends immediately, when Grant Holt scored with almost his first touch with a header from Martin Boyle’s excellent cross.
That goal galvanised the holders, and they took the game to Aberdeen from the start of the second half. And their efforts were rewarded when ex-Celt Dylan McGeoch equalised with a shot that went through Joe Lewis in the Dons goal.
Unfortunately, Hibs’ comeback was all in vain when, with six minutes to go, Johnny Hayes’ shot cannoned off Hibs defender McGregor to wrong foot the keeper and give the Sheep a 3-2 victory.
Celtic will look at today’s game and see the first 14 seconds as a timely reminder of how NOT to start a game. When the Bhoys take to the field for tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final, concentration is paramount, we cannot be slack in any aspect of the game.
We have to be 100% on the ball, right from the off.
If we do, then I can see us progressing to take on an Aberdeen side, that despite all the plaudits, find it hard keeping a clean sheet when teams go at them.
*A side note. Both Hibs goals were straight at Joe Lewis. I wonder if the pundits will claim he should have saved them, the same as they did with Scott Fox at Paddy Roberts goal last week?
There’s a deluded Sevco blogger, Johnny MacFarlane, who writes for the club fanzine that is the Daily Record*.
He has during his time come up with some real crackers when it comes to talking up the Ibrox club, with not a hint of reality attached to ANY of his articles. Doing very much the same job as Chris Jack does at the Evening Times.
There is no doubt he’s lost the irony of his latest article, where he suggests Sevco do a’ Juventus on Celtic’, comparing the job the Italian giants did on Barcelona in the Champions League, to a similar job Sevco should do on the champions.
Celtic are without doubt the Barcelona of Scottish Football, but Sevco are more like Espanyol than Juventus to be honest.
However, the irony of Johnny’s article has more to do with his choice of club to copy.
If he believes, like most of the Gullibears do, that Sevco are in fact Rangers (IL), then it his choice of Juventus couldn’t be more appropriate.
You see, in 2006 the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football were stripped of their 2004-05 Serie A title and demoted to Serie B for their part in cheating, by arranging favourable refereeing appointments, in a scandal known as ‘Bribesville’. Unlike the scandal in Scottish Football where Rangers (IL) acted alone, Juventus were part of a five team scam.
And unlike the Scottish scandal, Juventus were punished accordingly, and took their medicine getting on with it, and not blaming anyone else for their cheating.
If justice is to be served in Scotland, Rangers (IL) too will be stripped of the titles they won while using players illegally registered. An offence their chairman admitted committing.
*no newspaper was purchased.
Whenever Celtic face a game against the new club, or the old club for that matter, the media love nothing more than wheeling out ex-players and managers who’ve played their part in previous encounters.
It’s nothing new.
Neither, usually is the narrative. My old team could beat the new team, and we had better players then…blah, blah,blah. We all heard and read it, over and over again.
However, this time, there was a quote that was of REAL interest.
Alex McLeish, former manager of old Rangers (IL) was speaking ahead of Sunday’s game at Hampden when he blurted out, ‘Listen, somehow you have to win the title next year by hook or by crook’.
His assertion apparently came during an interview for the Sevco job with the current directors.
McLeish, unwittingly has given us all an insight as to the thinking inside Ibrox. This latest claim comes on the heels of a BBC interview a few months back when he told us, “if we didn’t pay the money on wages Celtic were paying, we’d been behind them”.
What he was referring to, was the years of cheating the old club embarked on by paying their staff, McLeish included, by means of Employee Benefit Trusts or EBT’s for short. Millions of pounds were siphoned off away from the HMRC. His take was £1.7M.
Yes, £1.7M from the taxpayer, just to make sure the Establishment club remained top dog.
The notion that this money, and any trophies accrued during his five years in charge, was obtained by cheating doesn’t matter on iota to McLeish.
All that matters is, “by hook or by crook”, they stop Celtic.
The media fallout from captain Scott Brown’s last minute red card at Ross County on Sunday has been nothing short of sensational.
Pundits, ex-players and so called fans alike, have been queuing up to put the boot, metaphorically, into Broonie, with a rhetoric that suits their preconceived agenda.
Quotes of ‘old Scott Brown’ are being thrown about like confetti, as if he was some sort of on the park hitman.
And the very notion that the club are, quite rightly, appealing his sending off, has put the usual suspects among the Celtic hating fraternity into meltdown, conveniently forgetting one of their favourites used the exact tactic to escape punishment not too long ago. (Kiernan)
All this means that Scott Brown, the bogeyman, will be available for selection on Sunday for our game against the new club in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
The very same ‘bogeyman’ who has played over 400 games in the last ten years for Celtic, and only received his marching orders on just four occasions, and to be honest, two of those, like Sunday were questionable.
Therefore the image the media wish to portray of this marauding, hacking thug, certainly isn’t the reality of Scott Brown.
Maybe they’re getting him mixed up with Souness?