Sydney magic undoes Hoops on Postecoglou homecoming; 3 things we learned as Celtic lose friendly

By Dave Flanigan

November 17, 2022

Celtic kicked off their World Cup break this morning with a 2-1 defeat to Sydney FC in the opening match of the Sydney Super Cup.

Ange Postecoglou’s side went ahead in the first half as Alexandro Bernabei’s shot from distance was deflected into the Sydney net via Kyogo, before the Aussie side hit back through Robert Mak and Max Burgess to defeat the Hoops in the Allianz Stadium.

Here’s three things we learned from the first of Celtic’s Sydney Super Cup games:

Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Familiar feeling as moment of magic edges Celtic out

It was a feeling Celtic have felt multiple times in European competition this season, as a match they often dominated was turned by a bit of magic from their opponents.

Sydney’s winner was a moment of utmost quality, as Burgess cut inside Greg Taylor just inside the Celtic box and whipped a magnificent finish across Benjamin Siegrist into the far corner of the Celtic net just on the hour mark of the match.

It was the home side’s first meaningful attack of the second half, after a Celtic side injected with quality at the break dominated the opening fifteen minutes of the half, with Sydney eventually hanging on to see out the win.

Fringe players get their chance

Though there’s been a more squad-based focus in Ange Postecoglou’s team selections this season, there are Celtic players for whom today’s friendly was a rare opportunity, with Siegrist and Oliver Abildgaard handed rare starts in the Australian capital.

With neither having made competitive apperances for the first team, it was also an chance for the Celtic support to have a look at both Yosuke Ideguchi and Scott Robertson whilst, B-team stars Rocco Vata and Bosun Lawal both came on in the second half for Kyogo and Stephen Welsh respectively.

Though none of the fringe players were able to have a truly telling impact on the result, it seems pretty likely that we’ll see a similar selection against Everton in the wee hours of Monday morning, so more opportunities are in order for them to show what they can offer the first team.

Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images

A friendly with a competitive edge

Whilst the result of the game will be immaterial in the context of both sides’ seasons, it was a game played with real tempo and plenty of chances, with Celtic’s defence given a far more thorough exercise than they’re frequently offered in the Scottish Premiership.

Though Celtic dominated the ball for large portions of the match, Sydney often threatened on the turnover, particularly in a first half in which Mak scored the home side’s equaliser from a well-worked break from their own corner flag.

Any suggestions that the Super Cup was merely a contrived homecoming for Postecoglou would have been put to rest by a game that was consistently competitive and provided entertainment throughout.

In other news: Report: Celtic set to sanction January loan move for first-team prospect