On the park the result was never in any doubt. Over the two legs, a 6-0 aggregate score did little to justify Celtic’s dominance in both games. Only poor finishing and inspired goalkeeping kept the score below double figures.
The only concern before the games kicked off was how many injuries we’d incur, because there was no doubt Linfield were going to put the boot in, given the opportunity. Lucky for us, as hard as they tried they didn’t do any real damage.
As in most ties like this, the objective is always to progress, and we did that with plenty to spare.
Off the park it was a different story altogether.
To begin with UEFA made a real arse of the first leg schedule. If Linfield, a member club and the PSNI can’t guarantee the safety of opposing players and fans, then the ties should have been switched. They bowed to the bigots by playing the game on Friday night.
But that wasn’t enough for the thugs that follow the Belfast team.
They had to go that step further and shower our players with missile when they tried to take corners. Coins were their favourite items for throwing, until one moron thought it better to throw a half a Buckfast bottle at our Leigh Griffiths.
Leigh, after pointing out the bottle to the referee was duly booked for ‘time wasting’. That last sentence sums up the performance of the referee on the night. The incessant sectarian singing was almost expected. However, one of their fans tried to get onto the pitch at the end, whether it was to get at our players, or our fans was immaterial. It only highlights how incapable of protecting our fans and players the PSNI were.
The second leg was a mere formality. Of the 1500 ticket allocation, they took up 800 tickets and sold the rest to a mob of Sevco fans, who were intent on causing trouble. The hymn book for the 90 minutes of the game was identical to what we get at a Derby match. Just bile with a mix of accents, that’s all.
In between the abuse, a group of Linfield/Sevconians did try to break through the security ranks to get at the Celtic support in the Lisbon Lions stand, but were thwarted by the stewards and police.
From what I can gather, none of the actions in that area were reported on by the SMSM, as they were obviously too busy being offended by the banners in the ‘Green Brigade’ section of the stadium.