Celtic great Pat Bonner has praised the Hoops’ game-management as Neil Lennon’s men managed to overcome St Johnstone this afternoon.
Celtic won 1-0 in Perth thanks to Ryan Christie’s whipped free-kick. However, it was the way we managed to battle and control the final stages that meant just as much.
Whenever St Johnstone threatened in the closing stages, they found three solid rocks in front of them in the Celtic defence. Christopher Jullien, Kristoffer Ajer, and Nir Bitton were all immense as we booked another trip to Hampden.
And speaking towards the end of the match via the BBC’s live coverage of the game (01/03, 16:50) Bonner hailed how Celtic closed the game out at McDiarmid:
“They didn’t manage the game against Copenhagen in the last five minutes, but so far they’re seeing themselves through. Picking up free kicks, throw-ins, whatever you need to get over the line.”
A key comment that comes as a relief
Bonner is absolutely spot on to talk about our game-management. Celtic had another spell in the game at 0-0 when we were all over the place in the second half. Fraser Forster had to quickly close down Stevie May, whilst cross after cross came into our penalty area.
However, there was a calmness after the opener. Sure, St Johnstone put some late pressure on, but Celtic looked much more organised. The timing of their challenges were sensible, whilst we got the ball out of defence with a welcome calmness.
Celtic, effectively, managed to take the sting out of any late flurry. That’s something we failed to do against Copenhagen on Thursday, who managed to take advantage of our glaring lack of organisation to punish us.
It shows that this Celtic side still have the ability to grind out results. It also showed the incredible quality this team has in bouncing back from poor results. After that Christie goal, Thursday must’ve been on the minds of the players. But it didn’t show, and the Hoops got a big win at a tough venue.
Of course, the quality difference between Copenhagen and St Johnstone can’t be forgotten about. But Celtic are good enough to see both teams off. So it was important that we saw the team bounce back with such character today.