Inverness gained a surprise win over Celtic at the weekend, who drop points following a European match yet again. Billy McKay scored the solitary goal for the visitors after a moment of genius from Arsenal loanee Phillip Roberts. The match has also caused some tension amongst the Celtic support, with manager Neil Lennon saying “If they’re not happy with me and want me to go, I’ll go, simple as that.” (quote courtesy of the BBC)
Celtic made three changes to the side that lost mid-week to Benfica. Kelvin Wilson, Scott Brown and Joe Ledley dropped out for Kris Commons, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt. They played their traditional 4-4-2.
Fraser Forster (GK) – 7 Rarely tested. Made one excellent save in the second half.
Mikael Lustig (RB) – 6 Was solid in defence and got forward a lot. Finish and crossing was poor, however.
Efe Ambrose (CB) – 7 Defended well and had several good runs forward in the first half.
Charlie Mulgrew (CB) – 5 Skinned for first goal, slip up nearly caused a second. Delivery from dead balls was poor.
Adam Matthews (LB) – 6 Played reasonably well. Substituted after 68 minutes.
Kris Commons (RM) – 3 Contributed more than Inverness’ entire team to breaking down Celtic’s attacks. Shooting and passing was awful.
Beram Kayal (CM) – 9 Tough tackling and creative passing was on full show from the Israeli. He dominated the midfield and should have had several assists.
Victor Wanyama (CM) – 6 Did a solid job in midfield but wasn’t spectacular.
Georgios Samaras (LM) – 5 Showed flashes of absolute genius but for the most part was poor.
Gary Hooper (ST) – 6 Barely got a sniff at goal although his hold-up play was good. Substituted after 73 minutes.
Tony Watt (ST) – 6 Worked hard but was selfish. Substituted after 64 minutes.
Paddy McCourt (LM) – 6 On 64 minutes. Had several good runs with the ball but couldn’t change the game.
Scott Brown (CM) – 7 On 68 minutes. Played very well despite carrying hip injury. Passing and tackling was impressive.
Lassad Nouioui ST – 6 On 73 minutes. Improved Celtic’s attack but Common’s couldn’t finish the two excellent chances he created.
Inverness lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Only making one change to the team which lost 5-1 to Motherwell last week. Gavin Morrison was dropped in favour of Phillip Roberts.
Antonio Regureo (GK) – 7 Rarely tested. But made a few good saves.
David Raven (RB) – 6 Struggled with Samaras’ pace but defended well.
Gary Warren (CB) – 6 Was solid and committed in defence. However, Celtic had plenty of chances and was lucky not to concede.
Josh Meekings (CB) – 6 Was solid and committed in defence. However, Celtic had plenty of chances and was lucky not to concede.
Graham Shinnie (LB) – 6 Defended well. Didn’t offer much going forward.
Owain Tudur-Jones (DM) – 6 Played reasonably well but was skinned a few times.
Richie Foran (DM) – 8 Showed battling qualities needed in a captain. Worked hard to attack and defend and made some vital contributions in both boxes.
Aaron Doran (RW) – 7 Worked hard and showed a bit of skill. Should have scored.
Andrew Shinnie (AM) – 8 Excellent throughout. Was the focal point of all Inverness’ attacks and his passing and powerful running was evident throughout.
Phillip Roberts (LM) – 8 Was relatively anonymous in first half but burst into life in the second. Showed strength, pace and skill and deserved his assist. Off 90.
Billy McKay (ST) – 7 Worked hard but had few chances. Took his goal well but should have had two. Off 84.
Celtic started of the match brightly with the fans in good noise. 5 minutes in, a brilliant back-heel flick by captain Georgios Samaras sent Kris Commons through on the counter attack. However, his initial shot was blocked and Watt was flagged for offside when trying to collect the rebound.
Inverness then got a free-kick in a dangerous position when Samaras’ ambitious pass out of defence was intercepted by Andrew Shinnie. The Inverness player ran with the ball before Samaras tried to rectify his mistake by sliding in heavily on him. The two Shinnie brothers stood over the 25-yard free-kick but Graham’s shot didn’t threaten Forster’s goal.
In the 12th minute the entire stadium stood up in applause to show their support for Celtic’s missing 12th man, the Green Brigade. The Ultras group had boycotted the match due to police harassment and their section, 111, sat empty.
Celtic piled on the pressure before half time had an excellent chance as Hooper dropped deep to collect a brilliant lofted pass from Samaras. He fed Commons through on goal but the winger’s right footed shot flew wide of the post.
Kayal then broke through Inverness’ defence again and fed a through ball into the box between Lustig and Hooper. The Swedish right back took the chance but his low shot went just inches wide of the post.
Celtic started the second half firmly on the front foot. However, all they could get for their pressure was a Kris Commons shot from the edge of the box skied well over the bar.
10 minutes into the second-half, Inverness began to take control of the game as they kept the ball more and Celtic struggled to get out of their own half. Along with Andrew Shinnie: Richie Foran and Phillip Roberts began to get forward more which was causing Celtic a lot of problems. This resulted in several chances for the visitors. But some last ditch interceptions from Efe Ambrose kept them at bay.
However, Inverness were not to be denied and scored after 64 minutes. Doran ran into the box from the right wing and pulled the ball back to Roberts. His clever Cruyff turn sent Charlie Mulgrew the wrong way and he then squared the ball across the face of goal to Billy McKay who tapped in from close range.
Immediately after this Celtic pushed up the park and Wanyama sent a 30 yard volley looping slightly over the top corner.
Inverness then had another excellent chance as Andrew Shinnie set-up Owain Tudur-Jones for a one-on-one with Fraser Forster. The goalkeeper came out on top as he stuck out a leg to deny the midfielder.
Paddy McCourt and Scott Brown were both introduced shortly after the goal. McCourt came on for Watt in the 64th minute and Brown came on for Matthews in the 68th.Celtic moved Mulgrew to left-back, Wanyama to centre-back and Samaras up-front to accommodate this.
The Celtic fans were noticeably louder during the second-half. But it was because so many were sounding their frustrations at the way the team was playing. During Brown’s substitution, Neil Lennon got into an argument with one fan who had said something the manager took offence to.
However, the substitution did give Celtic a new impetus and shortly after a Commons cross from right wing was met by Samaras. But his weak header was well saved by Antonio Reguero.
McCourt then made a one of his traditional mazy runs from the left wing. He took the ball past several players but his shot from edge of box had no chance of going in as there were five Inverness players there to block it.
Celtic brought Lassad on for Hooper in the 73rd minute. He immediately improved Celtic’s attack and helped create two chances for Kris Commons. However, the winger was not having a good game. He got the ball on the penalty spot but tried to take too many touches and was closed down by defenders. He then got the break of the ball from a corner but his volley was straight at Reguero who handled it well
Inverness then got the best chances of the second half when the ball was cleared from a Celtic corner, Mulgrew fell over on the halfway line leaving Ambrose horribly exposed. McKay got the ball and sent it out wide to Andrew Shinnie who ran into the box and pulled it back to McKay. However, with just Forster to beat his curling shot hit the crossbar. Aaron Doran was first to the rebound, but his shot was heroically cleared off the line by Ambrose.
Celtic continued to press for an equaliser but struggled to create a clear-cut chance in the last 10 minutes. After two late Inverness substitutions, the referee blew the final whistle.
Throughout the match Celtic created chances but their poor finishing cost them dearly. Inverness defended well and rode their luck at times, but had Celtic been on from they could easily have seen a repeat of last week’s scoreline when they lost 5-1 to Motherwell.
Although Celtic have been poor recently in the league, they are still top and could qualify from their Champions’ League group. This made it surprising to hear fans booing at the end of the match, and Neil Lennon was clearly not happy with them; ”The lack of patience shown by some people baffles me at times.” However, he also had strong words for his players; “I’ve just had it out with the players. Our play in the final third was poor. We can’t keep having so much possession, missing easy chances and being wasteful with the ball.” Terry Butcher, on the other hand, was delighted with the victory and hailed his “magnificent” team who have now beaten both halves of the Old Firm this season. Inverness move up to fifth in the league.