Unsung Hero: Celtic’s Hatem Abd Elhamed ‘overcame a shaky start’ to deliver solid defensive display against Lazio

Unsung Hero: Celtic’s Hatem Abd Elhamed ‘overcame a shaky start’ to deliver solid defensive display against Lazio

Celtic sealed their passage to the knockout stage of the Europa League in dramatic fashion last night, coming from behind to defeat Lazio 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time winner from Olivier Ntcham.

The night began in inauspicious fashion for Neil Lennon’s team, with Ciro Immobile left unmarked to fire a volley past Fraser Forster and put the home side in front at the Stadio Olimpico after just seven minutes. [via BBC]

The Hoops drew level shortly before half-time when Mohamed Elyounoussi played a pinpoint pass into James Forrest, who lashed the ball beyond Thomas Strakosha to equalise. [via BBC]

Both teams had several decent chances during a rip-roaring second half and, just as it seemed the spoils would be shared, Ntcham dinked the ball over Strakosha in added time to give Celtic their first win away to an Italian club in European competition. [via BBC]

On a night when Lazio had slightly more shots (15 to 12), one of the Hoops’ defenders turned in a very impressive performance after a change of role.

Hatem Abd Elhamed, who started the game as part of a centre-back three having played chiefly as a right-back so far this season, spared no effort in trying to keep the home side at bay, winning three tackles and making seven clearances on the night, as well as recording one interception and one block. [via WhoScored]

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The only disappointment on the night for the Israeli defender was the groin injury that forced him off in the closing stages, with Nir Bitton taking his place in the 83rd minute, but his display up to then had drawn deserving praise from a few reporters.

In the Daily Express, Joshua Peck said that he was “solid for Celtic, barely putting a foot wrong all night” and gave him eight in his player ratings – as did The Scottish Sun‘s David Friel, who felt that he “put in a solid, intelligent shift” after a “rusty” start to the game.

Abd Elhamed also got an eight from Michael Gannon in the Daily Record, who said that he “overcame a shaky start but was rock solid as the game wore on, making key interceptions and building from the back”.

Just as a bad start turned into a hugely satisfying night for Celtic, the same can be said for their Israeli defender, who showed why he has started all four of their Europa League group games with another strong defensive display.

Celtic fans, how did you rate Abd Elhamed’s performance against Lazio last night? Comment below with your views!

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