Glitter from Celtic's Giorgos Giakoumakis should offset grit in the Alloa oyster for Ange Postecoglou
As a result, even with Conor Sammon’s 75th-minute header to make it 2-1 ensuring late struggles for his team, on reflection the Australian can focus on Giorgos Giakoumakis’s crisp finish only 14 minutes in. Not just for its importance in allowing the visitors to overcome the League 1 battlers 2-1. The strike was important in allowing a different objective to be achieved.
The Japan call-up for Daizen Maeda earlier in the day, coupled with the hamstring problems sidelining Kyogo Furuhashi, will deprive Celtic of their two leading strikers for a crucial three-game league run that will see them away to Hearts on Wednesday, host Dundee United three days’ later, and contest a table-topping face-off in their home environs with Rangers on 2 February.
Postecoglou requires Giakoumakis, effectively his third pick for the central striking role, to step up in the next week and a half. In the Greek bagging a second goal for the club he joined in a £2.5 million deal from Dutch club VVV-Venlo, the 26-year-old did that in test No.1. He deftly side-footed in at the near post courtesy of an inviting diagonal ball from Liam Scales.
The need to bring Giakoumakis up to speed forthwith accounted for Postecoglou handing him what was only his third Celtic start. His opening five months in Scotland have been severely disrupted by injury problems that required a knee tidy-up operation towards the end of 2021. A minute after his strike, Giakoumakis could, and probably should, have have added a second when he raced clear on goal, only for his attempted scoop over the advancing keeper David Hutton to drift the wrong side of the post.
In a much-changed Celtic team that brought a debut for midfielder Yosuke Ideuchi – as well as outings for Stephen Welsh and Scales – Giakoumakis certainly coped better than some of his team-mates with the raw nature of a throwback tie in a 1950s-style ambience of standing fans crammed in behind three walled sides of the Indodrill Stadium.
Barry Ferguson’s men gave a terrific account of themselves, and Celtic never seemed entirely comfortable, even after Liel Abada, inset, curled in just after the half hour from 22 yards, weaving his way in off the right before leaving Hutton with no chance with the effort then unleashed.
Posteocoglou’s men weren’t helped by missing numerous chances. They also lost Abada to a rolled ankle early in the second period, then Ideguchi to injury. Earlier there was also real concern from Callum McGregor being forced off with a face knock. What collateral damage comes from these issues remains to be seen. Giakoumakis’s contribution, meanwhile, will be the bright spot seized on by the Celtic manager.
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