Celtic 1 v 0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Carl Tremarco, after arguably his finest game in an Inverness shirt at left back in a much changed formation, was disconsolate. That Inverness CT had managed the game brilliantly, coped with everything that was thrown at them and created chances themselves was worth nothing to him and the disappointment was etched on him. It was etched on the entire team.
John Hughes certainly caused a few raised eyebrows with his initial selection, leaving Mckay on the bench and pushing Watkins into the spearhead. It only took around two minutes to see why. After breaking from their own box, Watkins, Vincent and Shinnie combined for the latter to test Zaluskas with a rasping drive.
Of course this was Celtic, so defending for long periods was always going to be inevitable: "The game-plan was to keep it tight, keep the shape of the team and grow into the game. We certainly did that, although we rode out luck a little bit." said John Hughes and grow into the game they did. Celtic were becoming frustrated at all of their hard work coming to nothing, despite chances for Guidetti and Wakaso and Shinnie again almost countered just on half time. So the first 45 minutes ended scoreless, the game plan very much on for Caley Thistle.
Of course good things sometimes end a bit too soon, and Celtic undid all the good work with a bit of fortuitous play in 49 minutes. Danny Williams lost possession in the Celtic half, looking to have been barged over by Scott Brown. Protesting furiously, Inverness allowed Anthony Stokes safe passage to the edge of the penalty box where he fed the ever hungry Guidetti. His finish was sublime, curling past Brill and into the net.
The home faithful sensed a collapse in Inverness’s morale at this point, as the game became increasingly tousy but the Caley Jags clawed their way back. Substituting Williams and Vincent and bringing on Mckay and Christie changed the dynamic of the game, something that Doran added to when he came on for Draper.
I’ve seldom seen a more offensive opposition at Celtic Park, and how they battered on the Celtic door. Chances came and went for Tremarco (twice) Williams, Tansey, Doran and Mckay but Celtic somehow survived.
An obviously disappointed Hughes said: "I'm disappointed in the goal, I felt there was a free-kick on Danny Williams and so did the boys, but we still have to keep that back door shut - we're all trying to charge forward to score a goal and we leave that midfield area a bit exposed. They countered and scored their goal. In the last 20 minutes or so we had Celtic on the back foot a little bit. We gave as good as we got. The last time we came here Celtic took us for five so it shows the massive improvement that's gone on at Inverness."
It has too. Unusually, the last word in this game should go not to Hughes, but to Celtic boss Ronnie Deila. “I'm so proud of my boys," Deila said.
"I think we played against the best opponents so far in the league this season." I'll second that Mr. Deila.
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