Celtic player ratings vs Riga: Bitton, Christie and Frimpong the star men

By John Reid

September 24, 2020

Celtic moved into the Europa League play-off round with a 1-0 win over Riga. Mohamed Elyounoussi’s goal in the 90th minute made the difference.

The main talking point before the game was the return of Odsonne Edouard to the starting line-up, with Albian Ajeti on the bench. The Hoops once more lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Nir Bitton making his return to the starting line-up.

It wasn’t the best of performances by the Hoops, but the most important thing was to get the win, which was what the Hoops did.

Here we have a stab at the player ratings of the Celtic side:

Vasilis Barkas – 6

Had practically nothing to do for the entirety of the game. Saw a free-kick go wide of him in the first-half but that was the end of his involvement for large spells of the game. It is hard to rate him as he had so little to do, but he kept a clean sheet so that’s a good thing.

Greg Taylor – 6

Had plenty of the ball but at times his final ball was lacking, which seems to happen in most of the games he plays. At times, he played like a winger, and came close with a header in the second-half. A decent performance from the Hoops left-back, he worked hard but the final ball was lacking too often.

Shane Duffy – 5

Celtic defender Shane Duffy in action against St Mirren / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A mixed bag really. At times, he looks commanding and very strong – all the headers he wins in the box, for example. At other times he looks poor – his rushed pass to Brown ended up giving away a free kick. Won a header in the box that Nir Bitton nearly scored from. Is still getting used to life at Celtic, but he can play better.

Kristoffer Ajer – 5

The game was a bit of a struggle for the centre-back. His error let in Riga with a three on one chance but thankfully Nir Bitton came to the rescue. Spent a lot of time in the Riga half he didn’t have too much effect, as they had so many men behind the ball. Did make a vital clerance towards the end though. Maybe it’s not helping him to play with so many partners, but he should be playing better.

Nir Bitton – 8

Returned to the starting line-up in central defence. Showed his intentions with a brilliant early challenge to prevent a Riga chance. Also blocked a through ball which would have put Riga in three vs one. Was calm and full of composure throughout the match, and almost gave Celtic the lead as well. Celtic’s best defender on the night by a mile.

Scott Brown – 5

Celtic captain Scott Brown / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Another quiet game for the Hoops skipper, who seemed stuck on the fringes of the game. Was rarely harshly booked in the first-half which curtailed some of the more aggressive aspects of the game. He has not been at his best this season, but is such a vital player you understand why Neil Lennon picks him. How long that goes on is another story.

Callum McGregor – 5

Had a great chance to give Celtic the lead but elected to pass rather than shoot. Seemed eager to have the ball, but found it difficult to be as influential as he was against Livingston at the weekend. Was unlucky to see an effort from the edge of the box blocked in the second-half. He can play better for the Hoops.

Olivier Ntcham – 6

Came close to giving Celtic the lead with an excellent shot that was tipped over the bar. Constantly looked for the key pass to find a teammate, but wasn’t always able to find that man for the Hoops. Also had spells in the game where he didn’t have much of an impact as it seemed to pass him by. Was still a bit of a surprise to see him subbed though.

James Forrest – 5

Had a relatively quiet game before he suffered an injury and was taken off in the first-half. As he is one of the most important players in the side hopefully he will not be out of action for that long.

Ryan Christie – 8

Probably Celtic’s hardest working midfielder on the night. Turned up all over the pitch in an attempt to get Celtic going in an attacking sense. His dummy put in Callum McGregor who chose to cross when maybe he could have shot. Came close to giving the Hoops the lead with a solo run but the effort was saved.

Odsonne Edouard – 5

Came close to giving the Hoops an early lead but was crowded out in the box. Constantly tried to make things happen but found it difficult to break into the penalty box, as Riga were playing so deep at times. Looks like he might not be fully fit yet either. A frustrating night for the striker.

The substitutes:

Jeremie Frimpong – 8

Was a constant threat in attack after replacing James Forrest. Was inches away from scoring with his first touch but Callum McGregor’s ball was just out of reach. Didn’t get the ball nowhere near enough to cause Riga problems in the second-half, when he did he played well and was a real threat, his cross for the goal was excellent.

Albian Ajeti – 5

Almost scored with his first touch, but was denied by a bizarre goalmouth scramble, was then denied with a goal-line clearance.

Mohamed Elyounoussi – 6

A fine finish to give the Hoops the win, a good move by Neil Lennon to play him up-front.

In other news, Scott Brown has made encouraging comments about Vasilis Barkas.