Key Bhoys answer critics, star returns to form; 3 things we learned as Celtic beat Motherwell
So, Celtic and their – let’s say well-tested – defence travelled to Motherwell today seeking a second consecutive away win.
This against a Motherwell side who’ve started the season brightly under Graham Alexander. Scoring-wise, they’d only been denied by Hearts hitherto the arrival of Ange’s Bhoys so far this season.
A test, then. Against a resurgent Tony Watt, Celtic knew they’d have to come firing out of the blocks to ensure any kind of result today. Before the game, Postecoglou spoke of the importance of tempo and intensity against a team who, prior to kick-off, sat above us in the table.
So, what did we get?
In the end, the kind of win that cements Celtic’s credentials. Some much-needed big performances emerged from a win that wasn’t enthralling or particularly aesthetically pleasing. It didn’t need to be.
Celtic unlocked a decent Motherwell side twice, after some difficulties on the road in recent months. Really, you can’t ask for much more, can you?
Here are 3 things we learned as Celtic beat Motherwell.
Classy Turnbull delivers on return to busy Fir Park
David Turnbull needed a performance today. After a few mediocre showings in the Green and White, Postecoglou had to make a big call; stick or twist with last season’s Player of the Year?
In the end, he made what was probably the unpopular call, showing essentially why he’s the manager and we aren’t. Turnbull put in a more encouraging showing, that peaked with an absolutely beautiful goal from outside the box.
That’s what had been missing. Turnbull is capable of winning games within a couple of paces. He took the ball in space, and lashed a shot past Liam Kelly, making it 2-0.
He then refused to celebrate; a classy touch, even if he just ruined Motherwell supporters’ afternoon with his goal.
Alongside Rogic, the partnership still wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either. With Celtic attempting to push the ball out to the wings, it was on Rogic and Turnbull to keep things ticking along as opposed to being the main threats behind the striker.
But Turnbull won it for Celtic with a moment of individual brilliance. Selection justified for Ange Postecoglou.
Starfelt gets the basics right for Celtic against Motherwell
We also probably needed improvement from Carl Starfelt. Unfairly or otherwise, the early-season whipping boy was in need of a more convincing display at centre-back.
All throughout, that’s what we got. The Sweden international looked like the kind of assured, physical central defender that the Bhoys have needed. Throughout, he was winning his duels, clearing the ball effectively and providing a passing outlet for Joe Hart.
Postecoglou’s system asks a lot of its centre-backs. But in terms of sheer, basic defending, Starfelt’s been found wanting at times for Celtic. Not so today, and it was encouraging stuff from the Swede.
If he and Carter-Vickers can continue to build an understanding, it could be difficult for Jullien to get back into the team.
Celtic show twice in a row that they can grind out away wins in galvanising Motherwell victory
We needed this, didn’t we?
So much has been made of Celtic’s inability to get positive results on the road. Yet, that’s two in two now for a team who, let’s remember, are still very much in flux.
Ange Postecoglou, after some chastening early defeats, has restored confidence. Celtic didn’t need to be brilliant today. They were perfunctory, with moments of class that sealed the win.
That’s all we need. We can’t expect to blow every team away 6-0. Instead, Celtic were able to dominate possession [FotMob], shut out an on-form attack, and get three vital points to launch us up the table.
Not every game needs to be a blockbuster. So often, it’s just about getting through these games unscathed. That’s what we got this afternoon, and it’s just as satisfying.