Celtic 1-0 Motherwell extras: Turnbull the terrier, covid confusion reigns, referee Anderson not with the programme and Juranovic's coffee date with the Green Grigade
There were some curious and concerning elements to events at Celtic Park as the home side registered a slender win over Motherwell.
Man of the match
The game-settling, stroke-of-half-time strike conjured up by the wand-like foot of Tom Rogic secured him the accolade from sponsors. A worthy recipient, no question, but David Turnbull had weighty claims for the honour too.
The two playmakers rotated as false no.9s as Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou required to fill a central-striker shaped hole with Kyogo Furuhashi, Albian Ajeti and Giorgos Giakoumakis all missing through injury. Neither may have found it natural to take up the advanced positions required in the role, but Turnbull’s probing, pushing on and popping up all over the pitch was further evidence that those tired old tropes over the 22-year-old’s stamina really require to be retired.
Only six players in world football have played more minutes than Turnbull this season and, right to the conclusion against Motherwell, he was an influential presence. Indeed, his free-kick from which Rogic glided the ball goalwards was his seventh assist in a campaign in which he has bagged nine goals.
Celtic’s struggles to put teams away at home in the cinch Premiership is reflected in the fact that they have scored only seven times in their past six such encounters. What has never befell them at any stage within their own environs in league outings, though, is losing the opening goal. Only the width of the crossbar prevented Callum Slattery’s fizzing effort leading to that first only 13 minutes in, and it would have resulted in Motherwell and their hosts being forced to deal with very different challenges.
It was depressing for the Covid-19 situation to become a hot topic post-match once more. It can only be wondered where this is all headed. It was reported last week concerns over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant had led to the Joint Reponse Group to inform clubs that their entire squad could be put out of commission were one member to test positive following bus travel to a game was alarming...before national clinical director Jason Leitch then seemed to muddy the waters by stating teams could test their way out of such a predicament.
The confusion that reigns was evidenced by Graham Alexander’s revelation that his Motherwell players and staff travelled in their own cars to Celtc Park - 35 vehicles required in all. If clubs don’t take such action for every game - and Alexander pointed to the desperate desire to avoid such a scenario going to Dingwall, as Celtic will on Wednesday - then it can only be feared what will happen when the first player of a club that has recently been on the road contracts the new variant. And that is a when, not an if.
Being charitable, it all seemed to get a little much for referee Euan Anderson. As Alexander said afterwards, the official appeared to create a high tariff for punishable infringements - some real dunts by visiting players let go, it must be said - then blow for minor infractions. Yet, for all that the Motherwell manager believed his side were the victims of a poor decision with the free-kick that led to the goal, television replays suggested Anderson just about called that right.
Where the referee was found wanting was in not being with the programme over Celtic’s attempt to fool their opponents with a little-tap corner of the sort that Liverpool undid Barcelona a couple of years ago. Turnbull was exasperated Anderson wasn’t wise to the fact he had touched the ball out of the D when forcing a retake and it certainly seemed the official wasn’t watching closely enough.
Gave us a giggle
However unsuitable assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins may be for a senior security post at Celtic - and the answer to that is very - the Green Brigade protests over the proposed move are becoming tedious. The ultras group staying silent for recent games to register their discontent isn’t finding favour with Postecoglou or his players. It did, though, prompt a nutty line from Josip Juranovic. The Celtic full-back bemoaned the noticeable dilution of the atmosphere at the club’s stadium by stating: “When we came in afterwards we were speaking about it and how we never really heard them singing [and] we were joking we should join the protest and sit on the pitch and drink coffee!” Right.
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