A Point In The Right Direction

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Let’s be honest; who realistically expected us to get anything last night?

I know I didn’t.

It wasn’t just a lack of faith on my part but more a cold hard dose of reality when faced with the statistics relating to our previous away sojourns in the competition.

They don’t make pleasant reading. Only 1 win and a draw in 25.

You can guess what happened in the rest.

19 goals scored to 64 conceded. All in all our performances on the road in the Groups have been a bit of a shambles. But last night we bucked the general trend and it could have been even better.

For a start we had 52% of possession. Away from home. In the Champions League. Against a German team. That in itself would be cause for optimism. But it went hand in hand with a growing sense of this Celtic team believing in themselves as the game wore on.

With that belief came chances and not just half chances born out of the opposition making mistakes or good ones brought about by the type of calamitous errors that cost us so dearly 13 days ago. No these were chances created by direct running, slick passing movements and ultimately by keeping to the principle of recycling the ball from the back when nothing looks on up front.

Yes we conceded and yes they hit the bar and had other chances but considering their home record and our patch work defence I’ll take that, and it’s before we even mention the generally higher week to week domestic level that Monchengladbach operate at.

Often at the highest level – and it doesn’t get any higher in football than the Champions League – you need at least some luck to go with stellar efforts. Last night was a mixed bag.

Scott Sinclair was all out of it when his wonderful curling shot beat their keeper all ends up and crashed just off the inside of the post in the first half. But lady luck paid us back in the second half when Andre Hahn’s goal bound effort collided with the crossbar.

Added to that many weaker referees would have chosen to ignore Julian Korb’s obstruction of Moussa Dembele which led to our subsequent equaliser via a penalty, as well as Korb’s dismissal. Thankfully this one didn’t.

But as good as a rare point on the road for Brendan’s Bhoys is, as I said earlier it could have been a whole lot sweeter. On various occasions excellent approach play ended up with the wrong pass or a tame effort on goal but in the final minutes a near stick on chance was finally created.

Roberts received Brown’s pass on the edge of the box and with his back to goal, underlined his undeniable quality by engineering a wonderful through ball to Callum McGregor. Unfortunately the finish didn’t match the build up and on reflection perhaps a cut back to Scott Sinclair would have been been the wiser option.

We remain in with a shout of post-Christmas European football.

It’s a long shot especially considering that Barcelona’s poor display at the Etihad in the other group game confirms that both of the big guns can now not afford to play weakened teams in the final two group games. But when you consider how impotent the Celtic display against the same opposition was a fortnight ago there is definite cause for optimism and as we’ve already shown that we are always capable of the apparently impossible at home.

When Messi, Suarez, Neymar and the rest come calling on Wednesday the 23rd of November the ante is going to have to be upped big time on even the performance against Man City if we are to stand any chance of further trips abroad in the fledgling months of the new year, but nothing is impossible.

But for now we can relish a rare away Champions League point. Hopefully under Brendan Rodgers and his three year plan this sort of display on the road in the world’s premier club competition becomes less of a novelty.

But God Callum. Couldn’t you just have buried it?!!

Paul Cassidy is a writer and blogger who has written on a variety of Celtic sites. He’s a very proud supporter today after last night’s excellent efforts.

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