Celtic ensured themselves of a spot in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League with victory on Tuesday night by four goals to nil over Linfield to give them a 6-0 win on aggregate. Here are three thoughts.
Sinclair shows Celtic the way
Scott Sinclair once again has shown his quality and importance to the cause of the Hoops with two big goals, but it was about so much more than that. On the first goal, the Englishman played a brilliant pass and then ran in behind. The resulting shot was deflected into his path and he made no mistake from a tight angle.
But the goal isn’t the point. A big player makes the right pass, that is the most important thing about him. He’s making the right play consistently, and that points to a player on top of his game. His second goal was much of the same with him, providing a great pass and running in behind. Once again, he got a fortuitous bounce but he obliged and lashed home.
More partisan issues
The match may have went the way Celtic wanted it to on the pitch, but there were issues off the pitch. UEFA took exception to a paramilitary-style banner that some Celtic fans decided to put up, as well as acting on fans for blocking the stairs and a kit malfunction of sorts as well.
The first two are quite a big deal to the club, and they are going to be fined for that. The third charge is a little silly, but the governing body isn’t happy with sponsors being featured on the warm-up bibs.
Back to the big issues – This is a real shame that this has marred what was a decent tie between two managers that showed respect to each other. Once again, sectarianism has reared its ugly head.
Rosenborg up next
If Celtic want to make it into the group stages of the Champions League, the next step will be to overcome Norwegian champions Rosenborg. The Norwegians came through a tie with League of Ireland champions Dundalk in very narrow fashion.
Celtic should be favored to win that one, but they will have to contend with the (in)famous Lord Nicklas Bendtner if they want to win. It’s a good team that can score some goals if given the chance, the Hoops should prove to have too much in attack for their rivals.