Celtic have finally managed to overcome their UEFA Champions League (UCL) hoodoo which had stretched back to their 2013/14 campaign when they beat fellow Dutch opponents Ajax 2-1, which was their last home win in the competition. Here are some of the key takeaways from the match:
Celtic finally get the job done in the Champions League
Celtic’s last outright win in the competition came six years ago when they beat Anderlecht 3-0 in Brussels, in Brendan Rodger’s first stint as manager. Although this Group E match meant nothing in the context of the group, with Feyenoord securing Europa League and Celtic not being able to get out of last place, Celtic would have still loved to get the result to get the unwanted monkey of their back by beating their 1970 European Cup Final opponents.
The first half an hour was an even affair with both sides having chances, Celtic’s coming through possession-based football and Feyenoord’s coming on the counterattack. Celtic were awarded a penalty just after the half an hour mark when Liam Scales was dragged to the floor by Ramiz Zerrouki. Luis Palma converted from the spot, to score his second UCL goal of the season as the Hoops scored the first goal of a home UCL tie for the third game running. Feyenoord would have some big chances towards the end of the first half but couldn’t draw level before the break.
In the second half Feyenoord took more control of the pacing of the game, as they pushed for an equaliser and with less than 10 minutes left, they got it. A ball from the right side travelled through a sea of bodies before it found substitute, Yankuba Minteh in acres of space as he dispatched confidently past Joe Hart as the Newcastle United loanee ran into the brilliant away support and under that strange rule was lucky to avoid being shown a second yellow card.
After Feyenoord’s equaliser Celtic were all over the place as it looked like Feyenoord might find a winner, but after a great 30-yard effort from Callum McGregor that came crashing off the bar, it sparked the home team and crowd into life and just as 90 minutes had been played Celtic found a winner. Matt O’Riley’s delightful chip ball found substitute Gustaf Lagerbielke unmarked at the back post and the big Swede couldn’t miss as he scored in his first minutes since the end of September, to get the unwanted weight of UCL disappointment off the players, club and fans shoulders.
Stephen Welsh preferred to Gustaf Lagerbielke, Nat Phillips and Maik Nawrocki
With Rodger’s not deeming Cameron Carter-Vickers ready for the match after coming back from his injury, Celtic fans were surprised to see Stephen Welsh pair Liam Scales in the centre of defence. This was Welsh’s first game being available since August. Lagerbielke hadn’t made an appearance in over two months before tonight, Phillips started and scored an own goal in Celtic’s weekend defeat to Kilmarnock and Nawrocki wasn’t included in the UCL squad due to him being expected to be out for the whole of the group stage campaign. After a solid 75-minute display, has Welsh solidified his spot within Rodger’s rotation as the third-choice centre-back at the club behind Carter-Vickers and the imperious Scales, who picked up MOTM.
Rodgers, McGregor and Scales give their thoughts on an important night for Celtic
Brendan Rodgers said: “Obviously for the supporters it’s been a long time since there’s been a home win in the Champions League. So happy for everyone. We played some really good stuff and showed courage in our defending.”
Rodgers alluded to Celtic strengthening in the upcoming transfer windows: “The team needs support; it needs to be stronger at this level, you need to add quality if we’re going to progress, which I want us to do, then hopefully we can do that over the coming windows.”
Celtic captain, Callum McGregor said: “Get what we feel like we deserve from the group, because the performances have been good, but we need to marry that with results and it’s maybe a little bit about trying to give hope to the supporters, about hopefully next year’s competition.”
MOTM, Liam Scales said: “I feel like today was sort of like the peak of it today, and I’m just glad that I could help the team to get the win and it’s a nice personal achievement as well to have that in the locker.”