Celtic’s aim was to avoid two recent steps forward being offset by three back. Challenge successfully negotiated in that respect; long-awaited domestic away victories at Aberdeen and Motherwell have been followed up by a win which puts Ange Postecoglou’s men in pole position to continue European involvement into the new year. Ferencvaros provided meek opposition and much of the match was instantly forgettable but Celtic have little cause to care.
There are signs of progress from Celtic once more, even by virtue of two clean sheets in succession. Revenge of sorts was earned. Little over a year ago, Ferencvaros bundled Celtic out of the Champions League at the qualifying stage in a moment that marked the beginning of the end for Neil Lennon’s regime. Postecoglou’s tenure has promised more than it has actually delivered but the continuation of a European run, even in the Conference League, will do no harm to morale. Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis remain the clear favourites to continue in the Europa League from Group A.
An instantly forgettable opening half was most notable for the visiting forward Ryan Mmaee somehow flicking wide from all of three yards. That incident, inside three minutes, was the best the Hungarian champions could offer.
Celtic, in front of an admirably large support for a Tuesday afternoon kick-off, seized the post-interval initiative. A terrific Jota pass from deep was picked up by Kyogo Furuhashi, with the Japanese forward taking one touch before delivering a cool finish. Callum McGregor wasted the opportunity to double the hosts’ lead with a penalty, Denes Dibusz batting the ball away high to his left.
David Turnbull saved McGregor’s blushes. There was an element of freakishness about the goal, Turnbull missing his kick entirely before Dibusz whacked a clearance against him, but nobody could reasonably dispute Celtic deserved more leeway than a single goal lead.
Turnbull and Jota should have added gloss to Celtic’s success. A Carl Starfelt blunder which, typically, Ferencvaros could not capitalise on showed there remains fragility within Postecoglou’s defence. Wins cover a multitude of sins; Celtic’s Australian manager has afforded himself some much needed breathing space. Long before the six o’clock news, at that.