Celtic keep up Champions League qualification charge with Sunday SWPL win

By John McGinley

March 12, 2023

Celtic FC Women returned to winning ways today after last week’s disappointing defeat to Glasgow City in SWPL1. Fran Alonso’s side needed a victory away to Hibernian to keep up their bid to qualify for next season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League, having fallen six points adrift of league leaders City in the outright title race.

Amy Gallacher capitalised on a loose ball in the box, from a corner, to fire home from close range after just nine minutes. Caitlin Hayes then doubled Celtic’s advantage in the 36th minute with a header from another whipped-in set-piece.

Celtic pressed their advantage in the second half with Hibs not providing much clear-cut threat of their own. The 2-0 result keeps the Ghirls in second place, one point ahead of rivals Rangers – and there are big games to come.

SWPL1 will now split into a top and bottom six, with Celtic playing the five top teams in their half of the division another two more times. That means opportunities to pick up points against both City and Rangers – there’s still a long way to go in this season’s competition. Hibs, Hearts and Partick Thistle have also made it into the top six.

With just ten games remaining, there isn’t much room for error given City and Rangers are both capable of putting together consistent unbeaten and indeed winning runs. Every game is a must-win at the moment.

Celtic missed out on the chance to play Champions League football this term, but did take part in the first round in the 2021/22 edition of the tournament. A return would be much welcomed by the team, staff and supporters.

The top two teams in SWPL1 will make it onto the big stage next season, with two paths available – a Champions path and a League path. Each route would be a difficult test for Alonso’s side but it is crucial that Celtic Women continue to test themselves at more competitive levels.

The team now have a big Scottish Cup quarter-final to look forward to next week, which will be played away to Hearts. Hopefully, they can emulate the men’s team here and take a big step into the semis!

In other news, What Ange Postecoglou told Alistair Johnston the day before Celtic derby debut.