Europa League - Qualifying Play-offs - 1st Leg
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Celtic 2-0 AZ Alkmaar: Ange Postecoglou's side earn rousing victory

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland
Kyogo Furuhashi scores for Celtic against AZ Alkmaar
Kyogo Furuhashi stretched to score his sixth goal in six games for Celtic

Celtic's rousing progress under manager Ange Postecoglou continued as they took a big step towards the Europa League group stage with a pulsating victory against AZ Alkmaar.

Kyogo Furuhashi turned in Tom Rogic's superb cross to open the scoring before the break and make it six goals in six games since arriving in Glasgow.

It was no less than Postecoglou's side deserved after a fast-paced, all-action first half, and after the break Kyogo teed up James Forrest, whose deflected effort found the net.

AZ were overwhelmed at times in the first half but created plenty of chances themselves, but a combination of last-ditch Celtic defending and profligacy means they go into the return leg in the Netherlands next Thursday in a difficult position.

Postecoglou's influence on Celtic has grown with each passing game, and the Australian's mantra of all out attack has brought the best from his players, who have now scored 18 goals in five games.

It produced a raucous atmosphere at Celtic Park, too, with fans loving their team's swashbuckling style.

No player epitomises the change more than summer signing Kyogo, who has already become a hero at Celtic Park, if the legions of Japanese flags are anything to go by.

The forward led Celtic's ferocious press, and seems to enjoy a fantastic understanding with a revitalised Rogic, who rolled back the seasons by pirouetting away from three AZ players before finding an outstretched Kyogo, who produced a fantastic finish.

Rogic, Liel Abada, and James Forrest had multiple efforts each as Celtic swarmed AZ throughout the first half and, despite a drop off early in the second period, they eventually found a crucial second goal just after the hour.

David Turnbull won possession high up the pitch and found Kyogo, whose precise pass allowed Forrest to turn and fire a shot towards goal, which went in with the help of an AZ defender.

Out to kill the tie, Celtic ought to have had a third with five minutes left, but a sensational double save from AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst prevented substitute Odsonne Edouard from scoring from close range.

The Dutch side were second best, but by no means a soft touch as they threatened to expose Celtic's lingering defensive frailties.

Zakaria Aboukhlal caused problems with his pace, and exposed defender Carl Starfelt inside the opening five minutes, only to flop the deck too easily before taking a shot.

Joe Hart had to prod Vangelis Pavlidis' effort onto a post just a minute later as AZ targeted the open prairie between Celtic's full-backs and centre-backs, while after the break Thijs Oosting inexplicably side-footed well over from seven yards out.

But, despite the scares, Celtic soaked up late pressure to earn an impressive victory.

Man of the match - Tom Rogic

Tom Rogic
Kyogo was outstanding, but Rogic got Celtic ticking in forward areas and looks a revitalised player

What did we learn?

What a difference a few weeks makes. Celtic looked ominously off the pace in exiting Champions League qualifying and losing their league opener, but just a few games later they look a slick attacking outfit.

Rogic looks like the player of old and Kyogo is relentless on and off the ball, setting the tempo which Postecoglou demands. A previously written-off Anthony Ralston continues to grow too.

Defensively, there are still concerns. Starfelt was slack in possession early on and his recovery pace is not quick enough to make amends for his errors. Alkmaar might have punished some of Celtic's sloppy defending had they played more than one competitive game so far this season.

This was definitely Celtic's stiffest test of the season and they passed it with aplomb - but better teams will expose the space they leave when they lose the ball.

However, it is still very early days for Postecoglou and reinforcements are expected to arrive.

What they said

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: "I thought it was a cracking game. They took it to us at times, we had to work hard and show resilience, but the pleasing thing for me was we didn't yield or change our approach.

"We were still trying to be brave and even the times it didn't work out, we just got back on the horse and went again. Our reward for that was getting the two goals."

What's next?

Celtic are back in Scottish Premiership action on Saturday, at home to St Mirren (15:00 BST), before the return leg in Alkmaar next Thursday (19:15).



Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 56RalstonBooked at 63mins
  • 4Starfelt
  • 57Welsh
  • 3Taylor
  • 18RogicSubstituted forMcCarthyat 75'minutesBooked at 82mins
  • 42McGregor
  • 14TurnbullSubstituted forSoroat 88'minutes
  • 11AbadaSubstituted forEdouardat 58'minutes
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forMontgomeryat 75'minutes
  • 49Forrest


  • 1Barkas
  • 6Bitton
  • 10Ajeti
  • 12Soro
  • 16McCarthy
  • 22Edouard
  • 26Urhoghide
  • 29Bain
  • 30Shaw
  • 41Robertson
  • 54Montgomery

AZ Alkmaar

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 12Verhulst
  • 2Sugawara
  • 22Letschert
  • 4Martins Indi
  • 25Oosting
  • 8Koopmeiners
  • 6MidtsjøSubstituted forClasieat 72'minutes
  • 28GudmundssonSubstituted forEvjenat 72'minutes
  • 10de WitBooked at 48mins
  • 17Aboukhlal
  • 21PavlidisSubstituted forPokuat 80'minutes


  • 1Vindahl-Jensen
  • 3Chatzidiakos
  • 15Witry
  • 16Reus
  • 18Evjen
  • 20Clasie
  • 23Taabouni
  • 24Reijnders
  • 27Gullit
  • 29Koopmeiners
  • 31Beukema
  • 36Poku
Ovidiu Hategan

Match Stats

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Wednesday 18th August 2021

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