Celtic legend John Hartson piled praise on Matt O’Riley after the midfielder produced a ‘wonderful’ assist to set up Kyogo Furuhashi in the 2-2 Champions League group-stage draw with Atletico Madrid.
If there were any doubts about whether Celtic’s London-born Dane belonged at such an exalted level, he certainly answered those just a few moments after kick-off during Wednesday’s enthralling clash with Diego Simeone’s Spanish giants.
It was a pass some of the Champions League’s greatest ever playmakers would have been proud of. From Paul Scholes to Luka Modric. Combining with Kyogo Furuhashi on the edge of the Atletico boss, Matt O’Riley bisected the visiting backline with a sublime, one-touch pass. Perfectly-weighted and perfectly-placed for Kyogo to run onto and finish in style.
And while Hartson was full of praise for the class and the composure of Kyogo’s finish, the Celtic icon was keen to ensure that O’Riley’s role did not go unnoticed.
Matt O’Riley masterful as Celtic draw with Atletico Madrid
“Don’t overlook the part Matt O’Riley played in that goal. That’s a beautiful pass,” Hartson said during TNT Sport’s live coverage (25 October, 8pm).
“A wonderful ball. A great angle O’Riley gives for him, and Kyogo does the rest.”
Quietly excellent in green-and-white since his £1.5 million move from MK Dons in January 2022; O’Riley has taken his game to an all-new level since Brendan Rodgers took over from Ange Postecoglou in the Hoops dugout.
The one-time Fulham man now has 10 goals or assists in just 13 appearances this term, Celtic reaping the rewards after refusing to accept a £10 million bid from Leeds United in August. Stand-out performances on Europe’s biggest stage now surely mean that – if more offers arrive in the New Year – they would make that Leeds big look like loose change.
“(O’Riley may be) one of the next ones to go,” Kris Boyd tells Sky Sports, putting his Rangers allegiances to one side. “In terms of big money.
“You could sit and watch Matt O’Riley play football all day. He’s a top-class player. He glides about the pitch and Brendan Rodgers has obviously asked him to get forward more this season. He is reaping the benefits of that.
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