I’d a feeling whoever started today, wouldn’t play on Wednesday against the Danes. Wrong, this is probably the team that will that will start in the Champions League qualifier. Barkas in goal? Let’s just say he made two good saves early in the match. Michail Antonio was first in, five minutes on the clock, and he had a one-on-one with the Celtic dud. He missed it. Antonio is the kind of centre-forward Celtic can only dream about. He’s got the lot. Strong, quick, good in the air, holds the ball up, links play.
Celtic went 1—0 up from a decent McGregor goal from the edge of the box, he robbed Manuel Lanzini and picked his spot bending it around the keeper and into the far post. Antonio, thereafter, destroyed the fragile Celtic defence whenever he made a run in behind. He’d a bit of help from young Murray, who passed the ball to him. For his, and the Hammer’s second, a ball in behind the defence, Antonio beats Barkas at the left-hand post to give himself a double without breaking sweat. And Soro bundled into Antonio’s back to give West Ham a penalty, which veteran Mark Noble scored from to put West Ham 3—1 up. They’d already missed a few chances. The Londoners in easy street.
The Greek keeper is near faultless in the first-half! But Edouard had his usual miss from five yards from a stunning Christie cross. The Frenchman should have scored. Christie was our best player in the last game, he’s been up there today, again. McGregor doesn’t look out of place. Soro did well. But thank God we’re not playing West Ham in the qualifiers. There second team is so much better than our first.
Former Motherwell keeper, Darren Randolph, a half-time substitute, did a Barkas to bring Celtic back into the game. Liel Abada Abada got in behind the West Ham defence and flung in a cross. With only Ryan Christie in the box it should have been easy for the West Ham defence, but Christie got in front of his marker and the keeper juggled with the ball before helping it into the net, and whipping it out again, but the goal was given. Celtic, in theory, were back in the game with 35 minutes of the second half still to play.
Most of the Celtic first team players were taken off. But another West Ham counter, in behind the Celtic defence, was punished. Pablo Fornals played in Said Benrahm. He held off Murray and dummied Bain to pass the ball into the net. 4—2 and game over, with 25 minutes to go. Clock watching, because it would have been better if the game had ended here. Celtic still being outclassed, but in slow motion as the game as a competitive fixture died. I’d joked with mates that Aberdeen were sure to do worse this year because they no longer played anti-football. Celtic with a porous defence last year, look even worse this season.
Leigh Griffiths got the last 25 minutes. A section of the Celtic support booed his every touch (he didn’t have many, and I was booing at home, he shouldn’t get near a Celtic jersey). Griffiths has given us nothing to cheer about for several seasons. Redemption takes more than taking a decent free kick. But another section of the support did cheer him.
Jarrod Bowen made it five for West Ham, after mercifully, Davie Moyes had taken Antonio off. With thirteen minutes to go Bowen used the pace of a cross to dink the ball past Bain, an exquisite finish. It was just a matter of how many.
Former Celtic reserve player Armstrong Okoflex was booed when he came on (but not as much as Griffiths). Okoflex had the last laugh, scoring the sixth for West Ham. His first shot-cum-cross was blocked, but he kept his composure and bent it past Bain. Only two minutes remaining, so we kept it to six goals conceded.
Outclassed by a far superior team that isn’t, generally, considered to be one of the top clubs in England. Two years ago they were fighting relegation. They finished sixth last year, unlucky not to make the top four. Their signing policy has been faultless (unlike ours which has been flinging money at the wrong players and not signing obvious targets, who, surprise, surprise, turn out to be the real deal with other clubs, see John McGinn, Aaron Hickey et al.) and that’s why they’re better. Simple. And—they can defend—if you can’t defend in the English Premier League you’re an easy touch, like Celtic were for this friendly against the Hammers (who drew 1—1 with Dundee in a friendly, recently) and for the whole of last season. Get it sorted. The clock is ticking. We can all hear it. The game went just as expected.