With domestic glory representing something of an inevitable outcome for the imperious Celtic, the importance of succeeding in Europe cannot be expressed highly enough – and that’s exactly what they did on Thursday evening.
In a fixture which represented a must-win for the Hoops to give themselves a huge opportunity to advance to the round of 32, they stepped up to deliver a performance characterised by grit, determination and a touch of decisive quality.
The media have cooed over the Celtic players in the aftermath of proceedings, with the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Callum McGregor coming in for esteemed praise, but it was the performance of Ryan Christie which really caught the eye of the former Scotland defender Willie Miller.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound, Miller had this to say about Christie’s valiant performance in midfield.
‘Ryan Christie has been handed the chance through circumstances, through injuries, and he’s come into the Celtic team and he’s been outstanding. Not just in playing in a Celtic team that’s playing at a high level, but playing against quality opposition as well.
‘He’s now really putting in performances that are saying to Brendan Rodgers, even if he’s not going to be starting he’s going to be a big part of his plans going forward.’
Christie is far from a first-team regular at the club, but it won’t be long before he becomes an integral part of the first-team if he consistently delivers on the big stage.
The 23-year-old has spent the majority of his SPFL career on loan at Aberdeen and it appears that his experience has prepared him for the step up in class which he tackled with fearless exuberance last night.
Dilligent, intelligent and threatening throughout, Christie’s big moment arrived just seconds after RB Leipzig delivered a stadium-silencing sucker punch, as he collected the ball at full tilt before serving up a deliciously weighted ball into the path of Odsonne Edouard, who sent tremors through Glasgow by scoring the simplest of tap-ins.
It was a moment which showcased the strength of Christie’s character and determination; he could easily have allowed his head to drop in light of Leipzig’s unmerited equaliser, but instead he endeavoured to immediately rectify a perilous situation by bombing forward into the opposition half in search of a match-winner.
That’s exactly what he provided, and if he continues to showcase that level of mental strength this season there is no doubt he will blossom into an integral player under Brendan Rodgers.
With only 3 SPFL starts to his name this season it’s a testing time for Christie as he bids to establish himself in a highly competitive squad, but he did his credentials the world of good last night.
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