Celtic player ratings v CFR Cluj (away)

By Hamish Carton

August 7, 2019

Celtic have the advantage after earning a 1-1 draw away to CFR Cluj on Wednesday evening. Mario Rondon had the hosts ahead after 28 minutes but James Forrest’s swift reply means that it’s Neil Lennon’s side who have the edge going into next Tuesday’s return leg.

Here’s how we rated the Hoops team.

Scott Bain – 6

The Hoops stopper was pretty faultless for the home side’s goal as Rondon fired the ball low under him. Other than that, he commanded his box pretty well but didn’t really have any standout saves to up his rating. He is perhaps still a little ponderous when in possession and that could lead to some nightmare mistakes later on in the competition.

Hatem Abd Elhamed – 7

Celtic’s new right-back looks to be a shrewd piece of business on this early evidence. Elhamed attacks proficiently, defends solidly and doesn’t dive into tackles. He gets up and down the pitch really well and, most importantly, looks calm in possession. That’s crucial in European football.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Jozo Simunovic – 6

The big defender was pretty solid without being spectacular in Romania. He got his head to several crosses and put in a few timely challenges. He definitely seems to have improved his ball playing ability too. Neil Lennon will be hoping his late injury is nothing too serious.

Kristoffer Ajer – 6

Similar to Simunovic, the Norwegian was pretty solid without doing anything great of note. He was faultless for the Cluj goal – up the other end of the pitch following a Celtic corner. He also started a few neat attacking moves by coming out from the back.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo – 3

It’s early days for Celtic’s new Belgian but the signs are a little ominous. Bolingoli was caught out badly for the host’s goal and he didn’t really recover from that point. A stray pass after three seconds of the match set the tone for a low par performance. Not good enough.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Scott Brown – 5

Brown was perhaps a little off the pace in the first-half but soon came onto a good game after the break. Was clattered by Cluj right-back Mateo Susic in the second-half but got back up pretty quickly. A middle of the road display.

Callum McGregor – 6

Similar to Brown, McGregor grew into the game after a bit of a slow start. His calm play in possession is crucial for us in hostile away European grounds. Will be an important player in Glasgow next week.

James Forrest – 8

Celtic’s main man on the night. Always looked to have the beating of aging Cluj left-back Camora and created a number of opportunities from direct runs. His goal at the tail end of the first-half was extremely well taken but he should perhaps have made more of a similar second-half breakaway.

Ryan Christie – 7

Not quite at the level of his display against St. Johnstone but you wouldn’t expect him to match that. Certainly looks like a massive weapon for us in Europe, but failed to find the right pass on numerous occasions in this one.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Lewis Morgan – 6

Morgan offered a lot without offering a lot, if that makes sense. The 22-year-old was certainly happy to run at his full-back but he really failed to ever find the right pass or cross. If he can improve that part of his game, and his defending, he’ll be a really useful player for us.

Odsonne Edouard – 7

The Frenchman had a pretty good game leading the line. He was feeding off scraps for the majority of the match but could perhaps have been slipped in by some of the teammates on a few occasions. Still contributed enough to give the Cluj backline something to think about.

Substitutes

Olivier Ntcham (6) looked lively enough after coming on in the 67th minute but failed to find that real moment of joy. His compatriot Christopher Jullien (5) didn’t have enough time to do too much after coming on for Jozo Simunovic. The same can be said for Nir Bitton (5).