Celtic take a two-goal lead into the second leg next Wednesday and hit the woodwork a few times. It could have been more and quite a comfortable tie. But in a patchy first half, just before the 15-minute mark, Celtic were a goal down. Jack Hendry gave the ball away outside the opposition’s penalty box. Rosenberg broke forward with pace. Bendtner, who gave the Celtic centre-backs problems, held the ball up and laid it off to the on-running Meling Jensen, who side-footed it through a ruck of players and into the net.
It was against the run of play, but Rosenberg were comfortable at this point and remained so, until a minute before half time. Odsonne Edward, that nine-million pound signing, some of us (including me) weren’t sure about, came up with one of those goals no-one saw coming, including the Rosenberg defender whose legs he seemed to stab the ball between and past the keeper, Hansen.
Jubilation. Half-time 1—1.
A minute into the second half and Ntcham scored a wonder goal. One of those benders that start outside the post and swerve in. He’d tried it a few times in the first half, but his goal, and Celtic’s second, was a thing of beauty. He’d another few efforts the keeper was lucky to keep out and one that hit the bar. Celtic hit the bar a few times, a Hendry header and McGregor dink. Tierney was unlucky with a ball that rattled off the keeper and rebounded out.
Celtic dominated the second-half in the way they hadn’t the first. Midway through Edouard who had been playing on the shoulder of the last defender found himself running in on the keeper. He dinked it, like Henrik in his pomp, over the keeper and gave the hoops a comfortable lead.
It wasn’t quite game over. Celtic looked to add to the score. Edouard won the sponsor’s man of the match, but his French compatriot Ntcham had a champagne performance.
I was worried because Celtic’s best player in these early, but crucial, pre-season games, Moussa Dembele was out of the tie. The team is under enormous pressure and one slip can undo all the good work of the last two seasons. But the French trio look a heavyweight class above everything thrown at them so far. We’re not taking it for granted we’re through to the next round and another gruelling tie against the Greek champions AIK, but vive la France, vive la Celtic.