"Tony's boot was split in half"; Celtic hero sums up 'nasty' Blackburn

By Dave Flanigan

July 17, 2022

Football returned to Celtic Park yesterday as the Scottish Champions played out an often frenetic 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers.

One Celtic player who was critical of Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side was Matt O’Riley, who played 73 minutes of Celtic’s first pre-season game, with teammates Liel Abada and Anthony Ralston in particular on the receiving end of some late Blackburn Rovers challenges.

As reported by The Sun, O’Riley said: “They were feisty, a bit nasty and left a few on a few of us. Tony’s boot was split in half, which says enough, but it was competitive and it’s what we want.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Denmark U-23 midfielder also reflected on the game as a cautionary experience for the season ahead, with several Blackburn Rovers players booked across the contest.

He said: “We have to handle it because we’ll come up against teams in the Scottish Prem who’ll try to kick us to try to stop us.

“But if we’re on it with the counter-press and crisp on the ball, the rest will take care of itself.”

Celtic were enterprising in the first half, going into the interval with a 2-1 advantage after Jota’s sweet volley and David Turnbull’s low, deflected free-kick, despite conceding to Sam Gallagher’s opener after just 21 seconds.

The second half was a far less fluid affair, with several changes for both sides disrupting the rhythm of the game, Blackburn equalising with fifteen minutes to go with a free kick of their own from Brereton Diaz.

The Bhoys have entertained fans who have travelled for the team’s pre-season fixtures so far, scoring 16 goals in four matches across the club’s Czech and Austrian tour before yesterday’s stand-off with the English Championship side.

Celtic round off their pre-season with a showpiece game for the retiring Artur Boruc on Wednesday against Legia Warsaw in Poland, before a final friendly with Norwich in Paradise ahead of the Scottish Premiership curtain-raiser against Aberdeen on the 31st of July.

In other news: Jota dazzles, passing puzzles; 3 talking points as Celtic draw vs Blackburn Rovers