Rosenborg got a fair bit of joy down the flanks
After a bright opening few minutes where Celtic looked like they could grab the necessary goal to make this a comfortable evening, it was a rather nervy first half for the visitors.
Rosenborg looked increasingly threatening and had a couple of opportunities to nab a goal, which really would have shifted the power dynamic within the tie.
Most of this came down the flanks. On the right they found Kieran Tierney sometimes isolated with Scott Sinclair staying high up the park, while on the other side they almost caught Celtic cold on a few occasions with left-back Birger Meling attacking with real gusto.
A mixture of good luck (with Rosenborg failing to take advantage of a couple of clear-cut opportunities) and last-ditch defending helped the visitors keep the clean sheet.
Scott Brown had a hard time containing Mike Jensen
Helping Rosenborg to find overloads on the flank was playmaker Mike Jensen. Playing off the striker, Jensen had freedom to roam and link with team-mates and he did so very effectively in the opening 50 minutes or so.
Due to his position on the park, Brown was tasked with following the experienced midfielder, though the extent of Jensen’s roaming meant the captain was often getting pulled quite far out of position and seemed to often get caught in two minds. It made for an uncomfortable evening for Brown, who only started to get into his rhythm in the second period.
A subtle change helped Celtic regain control
After the break, Olivier Ntcham was pushed back alongside Brown as the Hoops appeared to go from a 4-1-4-1 to a 4-2-3-1.
It’s a subtle change as far as formations go, but it did a lot to help Celtic control proceedings for a significant period of the second half, which stopped the defence from facing a barrage of pressure for such a lengthy period of time.
Firstly, it granted an extra layer of protection in front of the back four and meant Brown could chase the opposing attackers around safe in the knowledge there was someone there covering for him.
Secondly, the wingers pushing further up on the Rosenborg back-line negated much of the threat from the full-backs, who were suddenly more reticent to get forward and leave space in behind.
The late changes were a sign of comfort
Tom Rogic replaced James Forrest and Ryan Christie came on for Odsonne Edouard as the minutes ticked away. Without the goal threat of Edouard and the pace of Forrest, Rosenborg slowly began to dominate once more and gave Celtic a few scares in the final minutes.
We can’t know for sure, but one can’t help but wonder whether Brendan Rodgers would have made those changes against a stronger opponent. Certainly the Christie switch was one designed to see the game out: a fresh pair of legs to press high and put the Rosenborg defenders under pressure, rather than a dangerous attacker brought on to stick one in the back of the net.
The hosts found some renewed urgency as the game reached the last ten minutes, but by that stage you felt that, even if they got one, they were still going out. Perhaps Rodgers felt the same and didn’t want to concede anything cheaply.
Hendry now has a confidence-boosting game to fuel his Celtic career
In the opening period the Dundee man again looked shaky as part of the Celtic back unit. He took a couple of needless touches when dealing with a loose ball after Craig Gordon had blocked a cross, then he lost his marker and allowed Alexander Søderlund to flash a chance off target from around the penalty spot.
However, he grew into the game as things went on and was arguably the away side’s best player in the second period. In particular, he was on hand to repel a number of late deliveries into the box as the Norwegians pushed for a route back into the tie.
Hendry hasn’t had his critics to seek since his January move from Dundee. Those who watched him perform in dark blue, compared to his showings in a hooped shirt, will tell you this is a player who doesn’t quite look sure of himself in his new surroundings. A performance like the one in the second half in Norway will certainly help.