By Lewis Laird
Everton goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has insisted that playing a side like Celtic was exactly what Frank Lampard’s team was needing in Sydney.
The English Premier League side has struggled for form this campaign and currently finds themselves sitting just outside the relegation zone.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, the team from Goodison Park faced off against Ange Postecoglou and Celtic in their opening game of the Sydney Super Cup.
It proved to be a competitive outing between the two sides, with the Hoops dominating much of the play, whilst Lampard’s Everton side choose to take a more pragmatic approach.
In the end, Everton came out victorious, winning the game on penalties following on from a 90 minutes of action filled with plenty of chances for the Bhoys.
Speaking in the aftermath of the game, Begovic stated that he and his teammates needed this sort of game against a Celtic side who are always going to be competitive.
He said [Everton TV]: “It was nice to win, nice to put on a performance, and when you play a team like Celtic, you know you’re always going to be in for a competitive game – that’s exactly what we got today.
“I think the commitment, the effort, the attitude was spot on (from both sides), which is exactly what you need. Obviously, we’ve had a long few days travelling and everything, so we need to be fully committed to get a performance.”
The English Premier League shot-stopper is somewhat of a veteran in the top flight south of the border, having turned out for the likes of Stoke City, Bournemouth and Chelsea.
Begovic showed his credentials between the sticks for the Toffees, producing a number of good saves, including from Kyogo Furuhashi at a close range.
When asked about his second-half save from Kyogo, he continued: “Just to make myself as big as possible. Obviously, he is the favourite to score in that situation, so for me, it’s just about making myself as big as possible and giving it a go.
“It’s nice to contribute when called upon. The boys in front of me did a great job all game. I thought we were really tight, compact and aggressive as a unit, but, of course, if it comes through and you can help with a couple of saves, then that’s a good thing for me.”
Going into the weekend’s game, Ange Postecoglou would have been keen to put on a show for the Celtic fans down under.
Not only that, but the Celtic boss would have also been out to show that difference in levels between his side and an English Premier League team.
And although Everton were able to come away with the penalty shootout win, it was the Hoops’ performance across the park which stood out in Australia.
The Bhoys were dominant throughout and showed there is no difference in level between the two sides, despite what pundits south of the border might make you believe.
Players like Begovic are well aware of that, and that is clear by his post-match comments. He knew that Celtic were going to offer up a competitive match, and that is why Everton set their stall out in a more defensive fashion from the off.
The reputation of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side continues to grow stronger.
In other news, “I got lucky”; Celtic man makes injury admission after Sydney flashpoint.
By Lewis Laird