Australian mastermind Ange Postecoglou is dealing with an damage nightmare at Celtic after a useless rubber towards Spanish facet Actual Betis within the Europa League was one of many wildest matches of the 12 months.
Celtic ultimately claimed a 3-2 victory after a wild nine-minute flurry noticed 4 targets fly in, however there was additionally one other strike dominated out for off-side, accidents aplenty, and a bunch of golden alternatives for each side to attain wasted.
The victory was Celtic’s fourth in a row, a measure of the advance Postecoglou has wrought from his workforce in current weeks. However an damage disaster threatens to derail their season at a vital juncture.
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Figuring out his workforce couldn’t progress into the knockout phases of the competitors regardless of the finish outcome, Postecoglou modified his total XI from the weekend’s victory over
With a median age of 23 years 10 months, it was one of many youngest Celtic sides to ever function in European competitors, and featured two debutants in Osaze Urhoghide and Liam Shaw.
Betis – third in Spain’s La Liga – additionally made a bunch of adjustments from their spectacular victory over Barcelona on the weekend. But when the match was billed as a useless rubber, the second-string gamers ensured it was performed with all of the ferocity of a cup closing.
Celtic’s central defender Stephen Welsh opened the scoring inside three minutes when he glanced in a header from a decent angle off a fiercely whipped Liel Abada nook.
However issues shortly took a flip for the worst when maligned striker Albian Ajeti, who had labored exhausting within the opening minutes, went down with a hamstring damage within the twenty eighth minute.
He had closed down Betis’ keeper Rui Silva with typical Postecoglou depth, and blocked an tried clearance that just about rebounded into the online however as an alternative discovered the facet netting.
With Ajeti injured, Postecoglou was pressured to name on talismanic Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi, a choice that may backfire spectacularly in a while.
Paul Akouokou slammed the crossbar for Betis, certainly one of a bunch of probabilities that got here shut as they dominated a lot of the primary half.
The second half began in equally thrilling style. Urhoghide, taking part in in an unfamiliar proper again place, struggled to get ahead as a lot as Postecoglou would usually recognize, however almost earned a purpose when a fizzed cross was wildly cleared again throughout purpose by Ruibal.
Postecoglou rang the adjustments, making a triple substitution with Adam Montgomery, Ismaila Soro and Liam Shaw changed by Callum McGregor, David Turnbull and Mikey Johnston.
Then got here ten minutes of insanity. Within the 69th minute, Celtic keeper Scott Bain blocked a pushed shot into his submit, just for the ball to rebound again into his outstretched leg and deflect into the online in unlucky style.
Moments later, Kyogo went down injured with an obvious hamstring damage in an enormous setback for Celtic’s ambitions with a packed schedule forward.
Kyogo was changed by Ewan Henderson, who – mere seconds after rising from the bench – tucked house a sq. ball from fellow substitute Mikey Johnston from shut vary to attain along with his first contact of the ball. It was his first purpose for the membership, and got here simply three minutes after Betis had levelled the scores.
The lead lasted lower than two minutes earlier than Borja Iglesias hit again, benefiting from some poor Celtic defending.
Postecoglou’s males once more responded almost instantly when Abada gained a penalty for being toppled within the field, with Turnbull tucking the ball into the left nook from the spot. That made it 3-2 within the 78th minute, lower than 9 minutes after Betis had levelled at 1-1.
Extra mayhem was to comply with. Defenders Nir Bitton and Urhoghide got here collectively in their very own field in an unsightly conflict of heads and each went down closely. Celtic have been out of substitutions, which was seemingly the one motive the duo remained on the park given important concussion fears.
Johnston quickly put the ball behind the online to make it 4-2, solely to have VAR rule it out for off-side. Then – throughout 9 minutes of stoppage time – Willian Jose headed straight into the bar earlier than Bain blocked the follow-up try, Celtic one way or the other surviving as soon as once more.
Celtic roared straight again down the opposite finish of the pitch with a three-man breakaway, just for Johnston to go it to the correct when he had an unmarked attacker on his left with the purpose at their mercy. A defender simply recovered in time to intercept Johnston’s underhit go as Celtic blew an opportunity to seal the sport.
However one way or the other, after 100 minutes of breathless soccer, Celtic claimed victory towards the powerful Spanish opponents.
Regardless of the outcome, Celtic fail to progress within the Europa League and can now compete within the Convention League, the newly-minted third tier European competitors.
ANGE FACES INJURY CRISIS
Hamstring accidents to strike duo Liel Abada and Kyogo Furuhashi may simply see the duo miss plenty of vital video games. The 26-year-old Furuhashi boasts 14 targets and 5 assists in simply 24 appearances this season, together with eight targets in 13 league video games.
A despondent Postecoglou mentioned about Furuhashi: “It’s not good. We’ll want to attend and see what the evaluation is.
“We have been possibly going to provide Kyogo a bit much less time tonight however clearly Albian additionally bought a hamstring damage.
“We’re simply going by a tough trot that by no means appears to finish however we’ll cope. We’ve had a couple of accidents however the quantity of video games we’re taking part in is simply ridiculous to be honest.
“We don’t have the squad to deal with it in the intervening time.”
With fellow star attacker Jota out till the brand new 12 months with a hamstring damage of his personal, and Greek striker Giorgios Giakoumakis struggling with a knee grievance, dropping Kyogo may show a hammer blow to Celtic’s hopes in upcoming weeks.
The accidents aren’t restricted to the assault, with veteran fullback Tony Ralston additionally scuffling with an ankle damage, having broken the ligaments again in 2019. That was behind Urhoghide that includes at an unnatural right-side defensive position towards Actual Betis – solely to endure a regarding head knock that might rule him out of coming video games.
The membership at the moment sits second within the Scottish league however 4 factors behind fierce rivals Rangers. And Postecoglou’s evaluation of the fixture checklist being ‘ridiculous’ is comprehensible – the membership nonetheless has six video games this month, earlier than an enormous Outdated Agency derby towards Rangers on January 2 (Australian time).
Whereas that match may go an extended solution to deciding the end result of the league this marketing campaign, Celtic followers can even be closely targeted on the Scottish League Cup closing on the twentieth (2am Australian time). That conflict towards Socceroo Martin Boyle’s Hibernian – who’ve simply sacked their coach following a run of poor outcomes – represents Postecoglou’s first probability to get his arms on Scottish silverware.
After Celtic final season have been humbled within the league and failed to achieve the ultimate of any competitors, victory could be a monumental marker of success in Postecoglou’s debut marketing campaign.
However Postecoglou must overcome a collection of accidents to do it. Right now, he proved that his second-string (and third string, in some circumstances) facet may declare victory towards an excellent European opponent.
Utilizing the total squad within the hectic interval of seven video games within the subsequent three weeks may make or break Celtic’s season.