Kyogo Furuhashi strikes as Celtic seal crucial win at Ferencvaros
If one ever requires evidence of what difference a year – or, to be precise, 14 months – makes in football here lies a case in point. For the second time in as many outings, Celtic saw off Ferencvaros to keep hopes of progression from Group G very much alive.
Such was the dominance again enjoyed by the Scots, it felt incredible to recall it was Ferencvaros who destroyed their Champions League dreams at the onset of season 2020-21. There effectively began a rocky journey for Celtic which led to Ange Postecoglou being appointed as their manager. As Postecoglou referred to a new team “thrown together” before kick-off in Hungary, it was easy to infer the delivery of excuses. If that was indeed the intention, the Australian need not have bothered. Celtic won this tie with far more to spare than the scoreline suggested. Their upcoming visit to Bayer Leverkusen has meaning.
The good, the bad and the ugly of Postecoglou’s Celtic were all demonstrated within 12 minutes. Firstly, the appealing stuff. Liel Abada stole possession in the Ferencvaros half and cut the ball inside to Kyogo Furuhashi. The Japanese forward, the undoubted star turn of Celtic’s season this far, led the home defence a merry dance when simply shifting the ball on to his left foot before slamming past Adam Bogdan. It was the 11th time in succession Celtic had opened the scoring in a European tie. It was also the perfect response to the deflating, if unsurprising, booing from the home support which formed the backdrop to Celtic’s players taking the knee before kick-off.
Abada was at fault as Ferencvaros restored parity. The Israeli attempted a casual flicked pass to David Turnbull which was easily intercepted. The ball was shuffled over to Oleksandr Zubkov, whose shot took a significant deflection off of Josip Juranovic before looping over Joe Hart. The frenetic nature of proceedings – and, candidly, the ineptitude displayed by both teams in defence – meant this was never likely to be the end of the scoring.
Hart saved smartly from Eldar Civic before instigating the move that nudged Celtic back in front. The goalkeeper fed Callum McGregor, whose pass was flicked wide to Jota. The Benfica loanee cut in from the left flank before beating Bogdan from 25 yards via a post. The goalkeeper will highlight Balint Vecsei’s deflection, although it was not nearly as pronounced as the one that was influential in Zubkov’s goal.
Entertainment levels were high during the remainder of an error-strewn first half. Celtic ended it the better team, even though Turnbull’s long-range effort, comfortably held by Bogdan, was the closest they came to a third.
Tokmac Nguen cracked the Celtic crossbar three minutes after the restart, with Hart motionless. Ferencvaros, although conscious of Celtic’s attacking threat, should have used the interval to reflect on the fragility of their visitors. Yet Anthony Ralston came within the woodwork of settling the match from Turnbull’s floated free-kick. The midfielder’s next act was to feed the marauding Kyogo, who lobbed Bogdan but watched his shot flicked off the goalline by Miha Blazic. By now, Celtic were the dominant force.
Kyogo turned creator for Celtic’s third goal. His perfectly weighted pass found Abada, who had comfortably evaded the Ferencvaros defence. A first-time angled finish rendered Bogdan helpless.
Postecoglou took the opportunity to afford much-needed minutes to James Forrest, Mikey Johnston and Georgios Giakoumakis as an endorsement of his team’s leeway. Kyogo’s withdrawal looked an act of mercy towards Ferencvaros. Increased desperation from the Hungarians, who are rooted to the foot of the section, led to nothing of consequence at all until Myrto Uzuni curled a wonderful shot beyond Hart. There ended the scoring. Celtic’s only failing in was not pressing home their earlier advantage.