Celtic 3 Jablonec 0: Ange Postecoglou's men energised while sections of returning support all too wearying

The new and the old fused in so many ways at Celtic Park as the stadium shuddered to the crackle created by a 50,000 crowd for the first time since the pandemic hit 18 months ago. Not all of them edifying.

David Turnbull wheels away after scoring what was his first goal for Celtic in front of supporters. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
David Turnbull wheels away after scoring what was his first goal for Celtic in front of supporters. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

It must be said, first off, that few in that seething throng would have thought it possible to watch a 3-0 win over FK Jablonec that allowed Ange Postecoglou’s men to breeze through 7-2 on aggregate into a Europa League play-off with AZ Almkaar next week in the context it was delivered. Many overwrought conclusions were drawn about what Postecoglou had to work with when arrived in the summer. As if he was done for if he dared utilise more than a couple. In his third straight win - which took Celtic’s goal tally to 13 in three games - eight of the 11 starters were at the club before him.

Granted, the fact he has added buzzing bee of a striker Kyogo Furuhashi - whose lacerating runs in behind somehow didn’t lead to him adding to his dazzling hat-trick on his weekend home debut - seems to have energised all around him. But, equally, these players are of sufficient quality to be energised; performers who simply lost their way last season, but not their undoubted talents. The two seemed conflated. David Turnbull was neither. Along with Tom Rogic, though, the nimbleness, the passing crispness and forward momentum demanded by his manager, is providing the perfect platform to his abilities.

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His two goals were sumptuous finishes of very different kinds. Terrific work from Greg Taylor to put him in at an angle midway through the first period allowed him to deftly flick - with the outside of his right foot - the ball into the far corner. His second, 55 minutes in, was a long-range drive met so sweetly, you’d half expect the ball had a dusting of icing sugar as it hit the net. As he does on European night, James Forrest also scored, sliding in to knock over the line after Odsonne Edouard had an effort saved in the 72nd minute. It was his 14th goal in continental competition, placing him alongside Bobby Lennox and behind only five others. As raucous as any roars on the night were the two that greeted a double save from Joe Hart shortly before the third, the sort of stops Fraser Forster and Craig Gordon patented on such occasions.

It must be said there was plenty else that emanated from sections of the support which were wearying to hear again. It took the Green Brigade, North Curve, or whatever this often self-serving group like to call themselves, about four songs and 10 minutes before they gave voice to a pure Celtic song. Ireland’s war of independence, the Troubles, or simply gratuitous IRA references periodically seemed to take precedence. As did abuse of the Queen on occasion. Pathetic, not politicking.

Celtic: Hart: Ralston, Welsh, Starfelt, Taylor: McGregor (Bitton 84); Forrest, Rogic (Soro 73), Turnbull (Ajeti 73), Christie (Montgomery 73); Furuhashi (Edouard 65). Subs: Barkas, Bain, Bitton, Soro, Edouard, Bolingoli, Urhoghide, Montgomery.

FK Jablonec: Hanus; Holik, Povaznec (Martinec 87), Houska, Pilar (Smejkal 87), Zeleny, Dolezal (Cvancara,70), Krob, Kratochvil, Plestil (Malinsky, 70), Kubista. Subs: Hruby, Vajner, Venicek, Hubschman, Stepanek, Kincl.

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