Jota dazzles, passing puzzles; 3 talking points as Celtic draw vs Blackburn Rovers

By John McGinley

July 16, 2022

Celtic continued with their pre-season work on Saturday afternoon, drawing 2-2 with Blackburn Rovers at home.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side actually took the lead at Paradise, scoring within a minute after some loose play between Matt O’Riley and Callum McGregor in the middle of the park.

However, from that point on, Celtic controlled proceedings – at least until the point when many substitutions were made in the game.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Jota fired a beauty in off the post from the edge of the box to equalise before a deflected David Turnbull free-kick gave the Bhoys a lead.

That lead would hold until 15 minutes from time when a Ben Brereton Diaz free-kick flew in past Ben Siegrist.

Overall it was a pretty entertaining afternoon ahead of further tests vs Legia Warsaw and Norwich City. Here are the 3 things we’re taking away from the 90 minutes…

Jota dazzles in front of adoring Celtic support

The Portuguese winger really enjoyed himself out there today. He was superb during his hour on the pitch, terrorising the Rovers defence and getting himself on the scoresheet.

It really came across that he wanted to impress supporters on the Celtic Park stage, in his first game at the ground since signing on a permanent deal.

He was taking men on, coming up with tricks, flicks, incisive passing and of course, came up with the classy finish to bring the Bhoys back into the match.

We already knew he was an entertainer of course and it’s going to be a joy watching him action at the stadium over the coming campaign.

Along with Liel Abada, Celtic had dual threats on the wings and you suspect opposition defences will be dreading facing them when the competitive action starts.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Bhoys still working through passing puzzles

One of the big talking points about Celtic’s pre-season remains the work being done to improve passing through an opponent’s press, allowing the team to build into vibrant attacks

Again, at times today, these phases of play were unconvincing. That familiar bit of panic was setting in when Blackburn got closer to the midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers around our own box.

For me, this remains a big concern when thinking about stepping up to European level.

Don’t get me wrong, Celtic are still exciting and entertaining to watch when we get the ball into the other half, but getting to that point in an efficient and composed way is still a work in progress when a team attempts to put pressure on us.

We’re only in July, so there’s still time.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

O’Riley and Turnbull looks a viable combination

With Reo Hatate missing today, it was another good chance to see Matt O’Riley in action alongside David Turnbull as the central midfield options, in front of Callum McGregor.

They were both combining nicely with teammates, with their vision and slick passing helping to keep the ball away from Rovers for much of the first half.

We haven’t seen this duo play together too often, owing to Turnbull’s injury in the second half of last season.

However, heading into the new campaign it’s looking viable and I’m eager to see how the relationship develops from this point.

There’s no doubting both of them have the skill to hurt defences, along with an eye for goal that should be productive across the season.

In other news, Scotrail timetable boost for Celtic supporters ahead of season start.