Manager's delight as Celts roar to victory
Tony Mowbray wore the look of a satisfied man as he reflected on Celtic’s 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar on Sunday.
The new Hoops boss made an encouraging start to his tenure with an ultimately comfortable win over the Australian A-League side. Goals from Chris Killen (2) and Koki Mizuno earned Celtic the victory in front of over 30,000 supporters at the Suncorp Stadium.
Mowbray’s men were put under real pressure by Roar in the early stages, but weathered the storm and eventually ran out convincing winners as Marc-Antoine Fortune and Lukasz Zaluska made their debuts.
“It was a really good workout for us and a good test over the 90 minutes,” said the Celtic manager. “We gave them too many chances in the early stages, but that’s perhaps understandable given the journey we made.
“Generally, I’m happy enough. The players put a lot into it and a few moments of quality counted, as it normally does in any football match. Quality in the final third makes a difference.
“I don’t want to pick out individuals, I prefer to focus on my team. I want it to work as a unit and we generally did that today.
“The goalkeeper made some saves, we kept a clean sheet and a very young midfield applied themselves very well. The attacking players scored goals and I’m satisfied.”
Killen, who found himself on the sidelines at Celtic for most of last season, looked reborn in his striking role. The Kiwi, who blossomed under Mowbray at Hibs, showed how effective he can be with two well-worked goals.
“I know Chris can score goals, I know he works hard and is a good team player,” said the Hoops boss. “He did well for me at Hibs and if he continues in the same vein, he will have a future here. But everyone in the squad has an opportunity.”
Artur Boruc only played 45 minutes of the match but pulled off a series of outstanding saves and his new manager insisted he needed no reminder of his goalkeeper’s quality.
He said: “From day one of coming to Celtic, I could see straight away that Artur is a top-class goalkeeper. He is so assured in everything he does and is a huge presence.
“He showed that during the game but it’s no secret that is a top goalkeeper. Hopefully, he will continue showing that form.” (celtic.fc)
Jock Stein famously won his last piece of silverware as Celtic manager on a tour of Australia in 1977 and Mowbray won his first trophy Down Under as well, with the Hoops being presented with the Translink Cup after the match.
Over 30,000 fans packed into the impressive Suncorp Stadium and were rewarded with a bright performance from Celtic in their first pre-season friendly..
It was a display that bodes well for the future. Barring a few scares, Celtic looked solid at the back, while the attacking players were always encouraged to attack defenders. The new manager will have been heartened by what he witnessed.
Mowbray’s first line-up included starts for Paddy McCourt and Killen, who is clearly looking forward to life under his old Hibernian manager. The match was also memorable for the Celtic debuts of Marc-Antoine Fortune and Lukasz Zaluska.
Polish goalkeeper Zaluska replaced the outstanding Artur Boruc for the second half of the match and Fortune played the last 30 minutes. Czech teenager Milan Misun also made his first-team bow as a late substitute, before going off injured.
Boruc was at his world-class best in the first 15 minutes. Roar started on top and the Pole was immediately called into action when Matt McKay burst through. Boruc also denied Sergio van Dijk and Robbie Kruse in the opening stages.
Celtic took 15 minutes to get into a rhythm but started influencing the game more after that early spell. Marc Crosas and Willo Flood were providing craft and industry in midfield, while Shaun Maloney and McCourt started hurting Roar.
Killen, McCourt and Maloney all threatened as Celtic stepped up the tempo. Captain for the day Scott McDonald, who only joined up with the Hoops squad on Saturday, was also clearly desperate to get on the scoresheet on home soil.
With the game heading for the interval, the sides were still level but you sensed Celtic were nearing a breakthrough and the opener arrived in 39 minutes.
Flood’s raking pass picked out Lee Naylor on the left flank. The full-back took a sublime first touch and fired a driven cross into the box. Killen timed his run to perfection and planted his header beyond Liam Reddy.
The huge Celtic support erupted and they wouldn’t have to wait long for the second goal – 120 seconds to be exact. Once again, it came from a wonderful move.
McCourt, drifting in from the right, found Killen and his cushioned header released the lively Maloney. Surging clear, the attacker could have shot but instead found Killen with a reverse pass. The finish was clinical from 18 yards.
Zaluska, Aiden McGeady, Georgios Samaras and Mizuno were all introduced at half-time and the Japanese winger wasted no time in making his mark by adding a third strike in 50 minutes.
Samaras picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and found Hinkel lurking on the right side of the box. The German’s curling cross was perfect for Mizuno, who found the net with a diving header.
At this point, Celtic were threatening to rout Roar. McDonald had four decent chances but found Reddy in inspired form. His dream of scoring for Celtic in Australia will have to be put on hold for a while.
In truth though, Mizuno’s goal basically killed the game. Simon Ferry, Paul Caddis, Milan Misun and debutant Fortune entered the fray after 61 minutes. The new striker was afforded a great reception and eased himself into proceedings.
Overall, it was a good display by Celtic at this stage of the season. The match would have sharpened the players’ fitness, while the club has made many new friends in Australia. (celtic.fc)
Killen backed for Celtic future
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray will give Chris Killen every chance to press for a regular place after the striker scored twice against Brisbane Roar.
The New Zealand international had only netted once in his previous 28 appearances for the club.
"I know Chris Killen can score goals," said Mowbray after the 3-0 win.
"He's physically very, very strong and a team player. If he carries on in the same vein as he did today, will he have a future? Yes."
During his time at Hibernian, Mowbray signed Killen from Oldham and the 27-year-old moved on to Celtic under freedom of contract in the summer of 2007.
However, Killen started just three games in his first season and was struck down by injury at the beginning of last term.
He played four games on loan at Norwich in February, all as a substitute - without finding the net.
Killen has another year to run on his contract but faces competition for a place up front from Scott McDonald, Georgios Samaras, new signing Marc-Antoine Fortune and youngsters Cillian Sheridan and Ben Hutchison.
"Everyone has got an opportunity, the strikers ultimately get judged by the goals they score and their general team play and I think Chris is good at all of those things," added Mowbray.
"He knows he's got a fight on his hands to get the minutes on the pitch to be able to do the damage. He's a good lad and a good professional.
"The best teams have competition for places and Chris Killen will hopefully intensify that competition for our club."
Killen, who scored 19 goals in 31 appearances for Hibs and netted twice in New Zealand's recent friendly with Italy, said: "We've got good strikers at the club and there are plenty more coming through.
"You've got to keep on your toes, work hard and keep your head down." (BBC)