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Celtic: Matt O’Riley was the shining light vs Leipzig

Celtic’s Champions League dream went up in smoke on Tuesday evening, with Ange Postecoglou’s side slipping to yet another disappointing defeat at Parkhead to end any hopes of progression to the knockout stage.

In truth, it was a familiar story for the Old Firm outfit having once again been punished for their profligacy in front of goal, notably missing a spate of chances during an intense period of pressure just before the half-hour mark.

Even without the stricken Jota, the Hoops had posed a real threat for their opponents, RB Leipzig, in what was an encouraging opening period, although the home side were simply unable to maintain that momentum as they faded after the break.

Having been so wasteful in the opening exchanges, the Glasgow side were made to pay as former Chelsea man Timo Werner and substitute Emil Forsberg netted late on to secure the points for Marco Rose’s men, ensuring that the home side now face a scrap to even secure a place in the Europa League in the New Year.

On a frustrating night for the Scottish champions, one shining light was no doubt that of midfield starlet Matt O’Riley, with the 21-year-old producing a performance that belied his years in the centre of the park.

The absence of skipper Callum McGregor through injury had seen the Denmark U21 international line up in a slightly deeper role compared to his usual, more advanced creative berth, although he more than rose to the challenge of trying to fill the shoes of his seemingly irreplaceable teammate.

The silky playmaker was typically composed in possession as he recorded an impressive 85% pass accuracy rate from his 66 touches, frequently spreading the play from deep effectively as he completed four of his five long balls, proving just what an “absolute diamond” he truly is – in the words of broadcaster Jack Collins.

The former MK Dons man – who arrived in Scotland for a bargain fee of just £1.5m in January – had twice come close to getting himself on the scoresheet after striking the woodwork in that frantic opening period, before firing straight at opposition ‘keeper Janis Baswich after brilliantly working space for himself inside the penalty area in the second half.

That was followed by a neat reverse pass for summer signing Aaron Mooy who inexplicably spurned the chance to shoot at goal, with it having simply been another case of what might have been with regards to the Bhoys’ shortcomings in the final third.

Defensively, however, Postecoglou’s men were seemingly up to the task prior to shipping twice in the closing stages, with O’Riley providing a solid presence in front of the back four having won 100% of his aerial duels and recorded a remarkable eight tackles on the night, including a stunning sliding lunge on Andre Silva after the interval.

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That all-round display unsurprisingly saw the £2.07m-rated ace record a sensational 7.8 match rating, as per SofaScore, with that by far the highest of any Hoops player on the night, as well as the third highest overall.

While such a showing ultimately proved in vain, it served as a reminder as to why the 6 foot 2 menace is attracting so much attention at present, having already cemented his status as a leading figure at Celtic Park in less than a year.

Article title: Celtic: Matt O’Riley was the shining light vs Leipzig

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