Celtic captain McGregor delighted with gritty Bhoys display v AZ Alkmaar

By Euan Davidson

August 27, 2021

Celtic captain Callum McGregor is delighted with the manner of the Bhoys’ two-leg victory over AZ Alkmaar.

The Bhoys skipper, McGregor has been on an excellent run of form since coming back from Euro 2020. Last night was more of a struggle, with an impressive AZ midfield keeping Celtic’s central players comparably quiet.

However, it was a whole team effort that kept AZ from levelling the tie, or worse. And that dogged determination has been highlighted by the Celtic captain McGregor.

After the match, he said [Herald]:

“These games can always be so difficult. Even if you’re on a good run of form. You come away, it’s a good stadium here, the fans were excellent for them, they got on top of us and they tried to make it as difficult as possible.

“In football it is so difficult win every single match, especially in these games when they come so early in the season and it means so much for your season. Anything can go wrong at any given moment.

AZ Alkmaar 2-1 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

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“The most pleasing aspect of it was the boys stuck together, we got through it and we showed another string to our bow. We can play good football, but we can also mix it and look after each other on the pitch as well.”

Celtic captain McGregor believes there’s quality at both ends, shown against AZ Alkmaar

After something of a Jekyll and Hyde defensive performance last night, the second half was an unbelievable improvement.

It was a nervous first-half at the back. Carl Starfelt’s bizarre own goal, and a mix-up between Welsh and Hart, saw Celtic cede a 1-0 lead. From 3-0 in the tie, the Bhoys dealt with intense pressure to keep AZ from taking it to extra time.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Obviously, the attacking talents and energy of this Celtic side are well-known by now. Going forward, Postecoglou has revitalised what was a stodgy, predictable team. That’s been about attitude, ideology and, of course, adding players who can excite.

But keeping things tight is just as important. What Postecoglou said at half-time must’ve been ringing in the ears of the Celtic players. The solidity, including two excellent Joe Hart saves and multiple Starfelt interventions was a marked improvement on what came before.

Grit at the back, and goals up front? It sounds good to us. Ange-ball is still in its early stages, but the signs so far are very encouraging.

Read more: “Wipe the floor with Rangers”