Frank McAvennie has accused Celtic full-back Anthony Ralston of being ‘lazy’ in the defeat to Real Betis on Thursday.
Celtic fell to defeat in their Europa League Group G opener at the Estadio Benito Villamarin in Seville.
They actually led 2-0 inside the half-hour mark, but quickfire goals from the hosts levelled the game before half-time and Betis were up 4-2 by the 53rd minute as the Celtic defence collapsed.
Ralston’s header in the 87th minute reduced the arrears, but Ange Postecoglou’s side were unable to claw back a point in the short time that remained.
McAvennie was keen to stress that Ralston’s attacking output has been impressive – he has now scored three goals and provided one assist this season – but the Parkhead legend wants more commitment defensively from the £5,500-a-week earner, who was caught out of position for the goal from which Betis took the lead.
“Ralston wasn’t tracking back last night,” McAvennie told Football Insider on Friday. “I know he’s trying hard and doing well, scoring goals which is impressive for a full back.
“I just want my defenders to defend, it’s lazy. Celtic can’t keep playing well and losing.
“The manager needs to tighten it up because we keep conceding.”
The statistics can only account for so much, but the bare numbers actually reflect pretty well on Ralston despite the above criticism. He won the majority of his 14 ground duels and wasn’t dribbled past at any point during the game (via SofaScore).
Still, you can understand McAvennie’s frustration given that this feels like a major missed more opportunity for Celtic. It’s such a difficult group, with games against Ferencvaros, who knocked Celtic out of the Champions League qualifiers in 2020, and Bayer Leverkusen to come.
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