Celtic v West Ham United – Friendly Match – Celtic Park – Report
Celtic 2-6 West Ham United
West Ham United produced a scintillating attacking performance to sink Celtic by six goals to two in a largely one-sided contest at Celtic Park
Despite some lockdown restrictions still in place, the match attracted a sellout crowd of more than 18,000 – the biggest audience at a football match staged north of the border since before lockdown.
Following a comfortable midweek victory at Reading, this was another step up for the Hammers, facing a Celtic side that had already played a Champions League qualifying round tie and was perhaps a little further advanced with their preparations in terms of match practice.
Celtic’s incoming Australian boss, Ange Postecoglou has a huge task on his hands, attempting to restore the club to the summit following a hugely frustrating 2020/21 campaign. And the home side was indebted to goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas who raced from his line to deny Michail Antonio with a smart save low to his left.
Celtic responded quickly – Skipper Callum McGregor eased past Manuel Lanzini, steadied himself, before beating Lukas Fabianski with a well-executed left-footed strike from twenty yards.
Barkas again earned his corn – this time thwarting Jarrod Bowen as the East Londoners looked for a quick response. Meanwhile, Edouard was a whisker away from adding a Celtic second – nodding wide from close range after a flowing move down the right.
But West Ham hit back just after the twenty-minute mark. Antonio with a composed finish after an error from Dane Murray following a throw by Greg Taylor.
The Hammers had found their feet and particularly Antonio – sporting the number nine jersey. The powerful frontman raced clear before beating Barkas with aplomb – Celtic’s defending again questionable – Anthony Ralston robbed – Lanzini and Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals involved in the move.
A gulf in class was beginning to establish itself. Mark Noble dispatched comfortably from the penalty spot after Soro was clumsy on Antonio – The Hammers hadn’t got out of first gear.
Celtic reduced the arrears six minutes after the restart. Ryan Christie got in ahead of Craig Dawson – substitute keeper, Darren Randolph unable to divert the header despite his frantic attempts.
But West Ham took just three minutes to re-establish their two-goal advantage. Fornals and Antonio combined to tee up Benrahma – the former Brentford man providing an ice-cool finish for the Hammers fourth.
Celtic’s defensive issues continued to cause Postecoglou concern. Jarrod Bowen’s neat flicked finish complimented a move orchestrated by Ben Johson and Benrahma – the home side again at sixes and sevens.
Celtic substitute Lee Griffiths had been given a mixed reaction from the home crowd. The former Scotland international drew a smart save from Randolph as Celtic attempted to reduce the arrears.
Former Celtic youngster, Armstrong Oko-Flex returned to Parkhead and added a six. His low angled attempt deceiving Scott Bain in the Hoops goal – this was ruthless stuff from David Moyes’ side, against the side he had once played for and indeed supported.
West Ham United return to action on Saturday, July 31 when they face Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium (3pm).
Celtic: Vasilis Barkas (Scott Bain 46’), Dane Murray, Anthony Ralston, Greg Taylor, Stephen Welsh, Soro, Callum McGregor (Capt), David Turnbull, Ryan Christie, Liel Abada, Odsonne Edouard
Celtic (55’ mins): Scott Bain, Osaze Urhoghide, Nir Bitton, Leo Hjelde, Adam Montgomery. Tom Rogic, Liam Shaw, James Forrest, Scott Robertson, Ewan Henderson, Lee Griffiths Subs not used: Ross Doohan (GK), Boli Bolingoli, Luca Connell
Goals: Callum McGregor 8’, Ryan Christie 51’
West Ham United: Lukas Fabianski (Darren Randolph 46’), Ryan Fredericks, Craig Dawson (Frederik Alves 77’), Angelo Ogbonna (Issa Diop 6’), Aaron Cresswell, Mark Noble (Capt) (Keenan Forson 87’), Manuel Lanzini (Connor Coventry 66’), Jarrod Bowen (Nathan Holland), Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma (Armstrong Oko-Flex 77’), Michail Antonio (Ben Johnson 72’) Subs not used: David Martin (GK)
Goals: Michail Antonio 22’, 31’ Mark Noble (penalty) 38’, Said Benrahma 54’, Jarrod Bowen 74’, Armstrong Oko-Flex 85’
Referee: John Beaton