Football Features

Bhoys leave it late: Five things learned from Celtic 2-1 Lazio

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:16, 24 October 2019

Celtic came from a goal behind against Lazio to record successive Europa League wins.

Neil Lennon, managing his 50th game in Europe, saw his side go down just before the half-time interval only to regroup and staged a stunning second-half comeback.

Ryan Christie was The Bhoys’ hero; cancelling out Manuel Lazzari’s opener before creating Christopher Jullien’s 89th minute winner, subsequently giving the Scottish champions a strong chance to progress from Group E.

Lazio will kick themselves as this result coupled with CFR Cluj winning in Rennes leaves them behind their conqueror’s and the Romanian outfit.

As both teams now start turning attention to domestic action, here are five things we learned from this encounter.

1. A five-year first

Celtic’s escapades in Europe across the last few years have not exactly been anything to write home about. Recent failures to qualify for the Champions League has incensed a passionate fanbase who crave nights rubbing shoulders with the likes of Barcelona, Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain.

As things stand, after this hardfought draw, they look on course to reach the Europa League knockout phase. Having navigated these opening three matches without defeat, Lennon’s men are unbeaten (seven points from nine available) a feat Celtic haven’t managed since 2014/15 – which just so happens to be one of two seasons in which they progressed to the knockout stages of this competition.

2. Christie’s nuisance pays off

From the get-go Celtic’s deep-lying forward Ryan Christie hardly stopped running. It was likely due to instructions passed on by manager Lennon and him continually being in motion often led to The Bhoys best moments.

If anyone was going to be involved in their equaliser, after going behind minutes before the half-time break, it was going to be Christie whose first-time strike from an Odsonne Edouard pass midway into the second 45 minutes.

Christie, though, wasn’t done yet. His last minute corner was met by the head of defender Christopher Jullien to give the hosts all three points.

3. Off the mark

Ciro Immobile on the bench would have given Celtic boss Neil Lennon conflicting thoughts. Him being Lazio’s most potent threat meant a chance for the Scottish champions to seize the initiative. Then again, his mere presence looms large, a late appearance for the lethal Italian marksman could unravel all their good work. How many expected the opening half to play out didn’t exactly turn out that way.

The visiting Romans, against the run of play, broke the deadlock through wing-back Manuel Lazzari who this evening marked only his seventh appearance for the club since joining this previous summer. His 40th minute strike was celebrated enthusiastically as it was his first ever in the Eagles colours.

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4. Forrest’s creativity goes wasted

It seems only yesterday James Forrest broke through at Celtic but this season marks his 11th at the only club he’s ever known. Stationed on the right-flank, the 28-year-old forward was a constant threat, which is no surprise given previous Europa League performances this season.

No one on the pitch, across both teams, was as productive than Prestwick’s very own. He’d create no fewer than three goalscoring opportunities for his side, unfortunately none would be converted into a goal, Forrest can at least say he was holding up his end of the bargain.

5. Britannia nearly ruled

Lazio would have taken a point if offered before kick-off. Simone Inzaghi’s side went into this Glaswegian showdown with four defeats from their last five Europa League outings.

A win seemed on the cards at half-time, but Celtic had other ideas, if they did manage to hold on – or register a late winner – then they would have ended a nine-match winless streak against British sides. This game also marked their first visit to Scotland: one they won’t look fondly back on.