Let’s be straight here; Ajer’s poor decision aside, the first half tonight was excellent from Celtic.
Not only did we play in an attacking style, but the players fought for each other.
They covered for each other.
They made runs for each other.
It was a disciplined and solid – and even exciting – team display and actually we were unlucky not to have taken the lead.
The penalty decision was correct. It pains me to say it, but Ajer made a mistake. He doesn’t do it often but he did tonight. Jullien, next to him, was brilliant. The team looked to be cruising and then came the moment that could have changed the game.
I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – Celtic sides away in Europe who would have folded the hand 1-0 down to that kind of cruel blow.
This one didn’t.
There is something about this team, something Lennon has instilled in them beyond what Rodgers was able to.
I’ll tell you, one of the reasons I was fundamentally opposed to Lennon getting the gig was that I didn’t believe he could take us forward in Europe. But the signs are promising. I blame him for Cluj at Celtic Park, but we’ve never seen anything remotely like it since.
I think we can put that down to a one-off, an experiment that failed, one not likely to be repeated.
The second half was less entertaining than the first half. It was more tense.
We spent more time in our own half than I’d have liked.
Yet we didn’t rattle.
We didn’t break.
We deserved our goal and in the end we’ve deserved the point.
And what a point that is.
What performances from some of the players.
Until he went off, we were watching the whole Edouard box of tricks. We were seeing Jullien grow into his role as a fantastic player and a leader in the team. The midfield was sound. Big Abd Elhamed looks like a footballer and a half, and fans really love watching the guy.
What almost spoiled the game for me?
A dire refereeing performance which, the penalties notwithstanding (both were) was a collection of petty bookings and one absolutely scandalous sending off. A an awful piece of play acting from the keeper completely conned him and he bottled out of his initial decision, which was the correct one.
But let me tell you, that aside I am proud of the team tonight and I am delighted with the manager and the way he has gone about organising this team.
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