Thursday, 19 August 2010

Celtic 2-0 Utrecht

In the end this was a comfortable win for Celtic as two goals in the first half gave them a comfortable lead to take to Holland next week for the second leg.

Apologies for any mistakes in the diagram but the Celtic's own coverage was not great and made the game hard to follow. I think I've just about got it right though. Celtic certainly played a 4-5-1 and for much of the game this was a simple flat midfield. When Celtic were pushing forward though they began to look like a 4-2-3-1 as the diagram tries to indicate. Samaras in particular had a fluid role as the target man which allowed for play to build around him.

The first half was particularly exciting and Utrecht had the first chance after only 4 minutes when Malenga headed over from a lovely ball into the box. On 12 minutes Celtic had their first major chance and really should have gone 1-0 up. Some well worked play down the left by Samaras left Maloney with the goal at his mercy but the Scotsman rolled a tame shot towards the goal that was easily gathered by the sprawling Vorm in the Utrecht goal.

Celtic didn't have to wait much longer for their first goal though as a lovely through ball from central midfield was left by Samaras for Juarez to be through on goal and the Mexican did not disappoint as he finished well. Utrecht nearly got back in the game immediately as Cha gave away an unnecessary free kick near the corner flag and Wuytens headed wide from the crossed ball.

The Scottish side doubled their lead shortly after the half hour mark as some good build-up play by Cha Du-Ri allowed Samaras to strike home. Utrecht nearly got a goal back just before half-time but Mertens long-range strike was fired wide of the right-hand post.

After what had been a wonderfully open first half, the second period proved to be a much more cagey affair as Utrecht seemed to sit back and were prepared to take a 2-0 defeat back to the Netherlands. The main attacking force for the Dutch club became French substitute Duplan down the right but he lacked any real penetration or support from his fellow players to make a dent in the Celtic left. In fact it is worth noting that Ledley had a great game in the left-back position despite it not being his favourite position by any means.

Celtic are favourites to go on and win the tie next week in Utrecht and the Dutch side may come to regret not making more of an effort to go after the game in the second half this evening.

Man of the Match: Baram Kayal
The new signing from Israel commanded the centre of the pitch and showed a maturity far beyond his years during the all important first half in Glasgow this evening. An injury meant he left the pitch in the 69th minute but by this point the game was already won. Celtic fans must be hoping though that the injury is not too serious and that Kayal will be back for the second leg in a weeks time.

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