Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley believes the team can take encouragement from their 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid and have a lot still to look forward to in the Champions League.
The Scottish champions took the lead twice at Celtic Park in Wednesday’s group stage match, with Kyogo and Luis Palma finding the net but Atletico pulled level twice with goals from Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata.
Though the draw gave Celtic their first point of the group stage campaign, Lazio are on four points after three games, with Atletico on five and Feyenoord leading the section with six points at the halfway stage. Celtic face an uphill task to progress from the group, or take third place and the consolation of a Europa League spot.
Asked if the performance against Atletico gave him hope for the remaining games, O’Riley was adamant the team could look forward with optimism.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think we played well in every game.
“We’re a bit disappointed not to get three points tonight, but it’s still a point on the board and a step in the right direction. So I think there’s a lot to look forward to.”
O’Riley played a key role in the result, picking up the Player of the Match award but also providing the assist for the first goal when he played in Kyogo in a clever passing move.
“It was just one of those things in the moment,” he explained. “You know your players.
“Kyogo, I kind of know where he’s going to be and we’ve got a very good relationship and that’s kind of been proven over time.
“So as soon as he played me that ball, I knew he was going to make that run. It worked out quite well.
“There’s lots of positives. It was a very good performance for the most part.
“We lost a little bit of control at times, especially start the second half. Overall, it was a good performance with very good goals against a good defensive team.”
It was the midfielder’s third Champions League group stage game and he said he relished the occasions and feels the competition can bring the best out of himself and the team.
“It’s the highest level with the toughest challenges,” he said. “I really enjoy playing against players of this calibre.
“It really makes you push yourself to your limits and beyond them.
“I think these games especially, they’re really, really enjoyable as a collective, as a team as well, we’re really pushed to show what we can do and I’m happy that we’re doing that.”
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