Celtic created history on Thursday night by claiming their first ever victory in Italy, when Olivier Ntcham’s beautiful late finish secured a 2-1 win over Lazio, and a place in the last 32 of the Europa League for Neil Lennon’s side.
And not just qualified, but qualified with two games to spare, and it’s their performances away from Parkhead that have formed the backbone of their European campaign.
In fact, they’re arguably more convincing in European competition now under Lennon, than they were when Brendan Rodgers was in charge, as was discussed on this week’s edition of the Totally Scottish Football Show.
“[This season] they won in Sarajevo, they won in Stockholm, beat Nomme Kalju drew in Rennes and now they’ve won in Rome,” said Kieran Canning.
“It does show a real progression from how they have played in Europe, even over the last couple of years with Rodgers in charge.
“The comparison is a bit fairer with last season, because with the first two seasons under Rodgers obviously they got into the Champions League, where obviously it’s a much higher level. There were some real thrashings there, and Lennon isn’t going up against that standard of opposition.
“But even last season, they were quite easily beaten by Leipzig, easily beaten by Salzburg and lost home and away against Valencia.”
The question then becomes: why are Celtic better on the road, as opposed to last season when they were brushed aside so limply.
“I think generally you can see Lennon’s team are harder to beat, maybe set up a bit more conservatively, but still possess that real counter-attacking threat.
“As we saw in the last 10-15 minutes of this game, it wasn’t that Celtic were just sitting in and defending the draw. We were saying at the time that they maybe even ought to have been doing that more, leaving themselves a bit too open.”
Oh, go on then, here’s that Ntcham goal again, complete with Chris Sutton goalgasm…
You can listen to the latest edition of the Totally Scottish Football Show here, and even better, you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.