Wembley Stadium was buzzing on Friday night as Tony Mowbray’s inspired Celtic team gave the new Bumble Bee kit a memorable first outing with a stylish 5-0 win over top Egyptian side Al-Ahly.
It was a commanding performance from the on-song Celts, who knocked the ball about confidently and created a glut of chances in the club’s first match at Wembley. The Egyptians just couldn’t cope with Celtic’s passing and movement.
Massimo Donati grabbed the opener and Scott McDonald’s spot-kick made it 2-0 before the break. Shaun Maloney grabbed a sublime third and McDonald then curled home for the goal of the match with No.4.
Once again, there were plenty of positives for Mowbray in his third match in charge. All of his players came through unscathed, while new Bhoy Danny Fox, who completed his move from Coventry City on Friday morning, played the final 15 minutes. Special mention should also go to Artur Boruc, who was at his world-class best.
Next up is Spurs in Sunday’s second Wembley Cup match. Barcelona are also involved in the round-robin tournament, but Celtic are now in a strong position to emerge with some silverware.
Andreas Hinkel had the first effort of the match for Celtic. The German full-back danced into space on the right wing and headed into the box, but his low shot was saved easily by Al-Ahly’s Hameed.
The movement of McDonald and Marc-Antoine Fortune was causing problems for Al-Ahly and the Aussie came close in nine minutes with an instinctive front-post effort. Amir got down well to tip it round the post.
From the resultant corner, McDonald was handed a golden chance. Maloney’s delivery missed Glenn Loovens and found the Hoops striker unmarked at the back post. The Aussie made a clean connection but the ball somehow spun over the bar.
Minutes later, the Dutch defender glanced a header wide of target as Celtic enjoyed some pressure. Yet, Al-Ahly also carved out a chance when Mohammed Talaat raced clear on Artur Boruc. The Pole stood up to the shot and pulled off a trademark save.
Maloney was a menace on the left wing and he produced an audacious backheel to set Fortune free in the box. The striker spun and crashed a shot off the bar. From the rebound, Maloney’s volley caught the post.
A Celtic goal seemed inevitable and Donati was the man who provided it in 31 minutes. Maloney and McDonald hounded the Al-Ahly defence, before finding the Italian at the edge of the box.
Donati, taking up possession, emerged from a tackle to burst into the box. Faced with Hameed, the Italian kept his composure and sidestepped the goalkeeper before clipping the ball into the net.
It was a great moment for Donati, who is making the most of his chance to shine under Mowbray. Partnered with Landry NGuemo in central midfield, he looked hungry and was rewarded with the goal.
With McGeady and Maloney running at the Al-Ahly full-backs at every opportunity, Celtic were on top and the second goal arrived in 38 minutes.
McGeady, drifting infield, found some space to burst through the middle and send McDonald clear. The Australian touched the ball past Hameed and was sent crashing to the
It was a stonewall penalty but, sensibly, no red card was given. There were very few complaints and McDonald was coolness personified – sliding his shot off the post and into the back of the net.
Darren O’Dea was introduced at the break for Gary Caldwell and Celtic wasted no time in adding a third goal – with Maloney making it 3-0 in 49 minutes.
The outstanding McGeady was the architect, riding two challenges and sliding a pass through to Maloney. The winger looked offside but didn’t care as he curled a wonderful finish into the bottom corner.
Al-Ahly captain Abou Treka was trying to rouse his side from their slumber but it was all to no avail as McDonald grabbed a stunning fourth goal for Celtic in 58 minutes.
Lee Naylor made progress down the left wing and slid a pass to the Aussie on the corner of the box. He dropped a shoulder and bent a beautiful finish into the top corner from 16 yards.
It was game over at the point but Boruc still had to be at his very best to deny Abou Treka as Al-Ahly looked to salvage some pride. The Egyptian striker could only shake his head at Boruc’s save.
Willo Flood, Killen and Marc Crosas replaced McDonald, Donati and NGuemo just after the hour-mark. Minutes later, the tireless Fortune once again spun his marker and flashed a shot across the face of goal.
Koki Mizuno and Fox were also introduced and they were both involved in the fifth strike in 82 minutes. Fox’s corner was rattled back into the box by Mizuno and Killen, unmarked, slotted home from close range to put the seal on a fine display.