Sectarian songs. Chants about child abuse. Objects thrown at Leigh Griffiths. Linfield defying Celtic’s decision not to take tickets for the game, and selling them to all and sundry. These are but some of the reasons why the North of Ireland club should be severely sanctioned for tonight. The behaviour of the club bordered on reckless. The behaviour of their fans plumbed the gutters. There is no excuse for any of it.
Celtic turned in a disciplined performance, and took a 2-0 win.
We played well within ourselves and had enough about us to get the away win. Not for us the kind of pathetic stumbling we saw from the other Scottish clubs. We’ve got the job half done. No-one doubts we’ll wrap it up and stick a bow on it come next week. It’s bagged.
Yet there are concerns, none the least of which is that we missed a lot of chances. Do that against the likes of Rosenborg and we’ll be scrambling. There was also a moment of Scott Brown indiscipline which you feel might come back to haunt us; there are five more games in this campaign before we get to the groups. It would be just like our captain to get himself into trouble for a crucial match. He will need to be very careful indeed.
Leigh Griffiths was also booked, and that’s going to be the talking point. With around 15 minutes to go he was taking a corner kick when missiles began to fly. He picked up some coins and handed them to the ref. Whatever the ref said to him left him seriously perplexed.
He was angry. But he did the professional thing and went back to take the corner.
And then a bottle flew at him. Had it hit him, man oh man there would have been a world of trouble and especially for the official. Because Griffiths had clearly wanted him to know how serious it was out there. What happened next was stunning; Leigh Griffiths got a yellow card for highlighting the obvious physical danger he was in.
In all my years watching football I’ve never, ever seen that. If the ref thinks a player should be booked for expressing concern when he’s in danger then that ref should be fired. That is inexcusable. So too is the throwing of objects and if nothing else gets the UEFA sanctions machine rolling it will be that. This is not the SFA who’s total failure to take any action over the Ibrox debacle is gutless and corrupt. UEFA will not hesitate.
It is terrible not to be writing about the football and our first competitive foray this season, but really that was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever seen as a football fan.
I’ll tell you what else was unbelievable; Linfield fans singing Sevco songs. Why would they bother? Sevco are a second rate NewCo, who finished third in Scotland last year and were just knocked out of Europe by the team that finished fourth in Luxembourg. Linfield are still in Europe, and they are national champions. It takes a profound identity crisis not to recognise your own, actual, achievements and cling, instead, to the faux accomplishments of others.
It’s pretty pitiful in fact. We’re doing this lot a favour knocking them out.
They are an embarrassment to their league and to the island of Ireland.