Lacklustre Celtic thankful to John Guidetti
A soporific first half saw Ronny Deila’s side dominate possession but lack the guile or variety of movement necessary to find a way through an Inverness side which had arrived in Glasgow clearly intent on damage limitation.
The approach adopted by John Hughes’ side was perhaps understandable, given the 5-0 and 6-0 drubbings they had suffered on their two previous visits to Celtic Park under his management last season.
Hughes’ game plan, in which defensive midfielders Graeme Shinnie and Ross Draper were hugely effective in shutting down Celtic’s supply lines to their attacking players, looked more than capable of earning the point which would have kept Inverness ahead of the champions in the league standings.
But the decisive moment of the match came four minutes into a second half which Celtic had started with far greater urgency and tempo. Almost inevitably, it was man of the moment John Guidetti who made the difference when he cut inside Gary Warren and stroked his ninth goal in as many appearances for Celtic beyond Inverness keeper Dean Brill.
The goal was not without controversy, the Inverness players furiously claiming their winger Danny Williams had been fouled in the build-up by Celtic captain Scott Brown before Anthony Stokes seized possession and launched the break which led to the breakthrough.
The visitors’ sense of grievance was then matched by a feeling of frustration as they failed to make the most of a barrage of pressure on the Celtic goal which saw Greg Tansey and Carl Tremarco both miss gilt-edged chances, before Lukasz Zaluska made late saves to deny Billy McKay and Tremarco.
“I was definitely fouled before the goal but the referee ended up saying he gave us the advantage,” said Williams. “I don’t know how we had any advantage from that, because Celtic just went up the park and got their goal from it.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee, but it was clearly a bad decision. It just looked like a stonewall foul to us. I was looking to pass to Ross Draper, then I was just knocked in the back when I was off balance. A lot of our lads stopped when the foul was made and the decision has punished us in the end.
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“We set up a game plan to hit Celtic on the counter and play our football whenever we could. Celtic are always going to have chances but I thought we kept them to a minimum.
“We had many chances ourselves at the end of the game. We could have nicked a draw or even won it in the end. So it’s really disappointing.
“We definitely think we can be up near the top end of the table for the rest of the season now. We are looking to improve every week. We’ll try and get three points next week and stay up there as long as we can.
“The aim at the start of the season was to stay in the league but now we want to push for the top six and improve on last year if possible. I thought we gave as good as we got against Celtic and we will look to maintain that kind of form.
“Celtic were hanging on. We had some clear chances. I should have hit the target myself with one of them.
“We have been pretty consistent since the beginning of the season. We managed to beat Celtic at our place earlier and we were unlucky this time. We will just try and keep this consistency of performance for the rest of the season.
“Billy McKay was unlucky again today in front of goal. He is getting into the right places. He would be worrying a lot more if he wasn’t getting into those positions. I’m sure he will get his fair share of goals eventually.”
Zaluska’s contribution for Celtic was crucial as he kept his first clean sheet for the club since February 2013. Standing in for Craig Gordon, who was rested because of a slight knee problem which should not keep him out of Thursday’s Europa League tie against Astra Giurgiu in Romania, the 32-year-old Polish ‘keeper was playing for the first time since being the victim of an alleged assault in Glasgow’s west end a fortnight ago.
“It has been a tough two weeks for Lukasz,” observed Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk. “There has been a lot of attention on him outside of the pitch. But he did well in the game and his saves at the end were unbelievable. It was good for him.
“From the start of the season, we could see there would be tough competition between Craig and Lukasz. They can motivate each other. Lukasz did a very good job against Inverness and we know Craig can do the same for us.
“I don’t know how hard it is for Lukasz to just come into the team every now and then, that’s something you would need to ask him. But he kept a clean sheet which is always good for a goalkeeper and for his defence as well.
“It was a good game against Inverness. We were under a little bit of pressure at the end and they had two good chances. Lukasz saved us, we kept a clean sheet and we won again.
“We’ve had a lot of games in a short period of time recently so there was a bit of tiredness at the end. Inverness took risks and put us under a lot of pressure, with a lot of men up front. We were pushed back a little bit.
“We have an important game in Romania on Thursday now and we need to keep this run going, we need to keep winning.
“I said a few weeks ago we needed a little bit of time to get rid of the inconsistency. We have now won five games in a row in all competitions. We don’t have to look at the league table right now, because the season still has a very long way to go.
“We want to win every game, especially in the league. We are in the flow right now and we need to keep on going.”
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