Matt O’Riley hails incredible Celtic fan reaction at full-time after Real Madrid defeat as midfielder outlines dressing room frustrations

The 21-year-old insists the Hoops squad walked off the pitch feeling like they had WON against the Galacticos.

Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

From competing in England’s League One to earning international recognition and facing Champions League holders Real Madrid in Europe’s elite club competition within the space of eight months.

It has been a rapid rise for Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley to look back on.

The former MK Dons star moved to Parkhead in January and immediately hit the ground running, with his performances in a Hoops jersey certainly not going unnoticed.

Celtic players ahead of their clash with Real Madrid. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)Celtic players ahead of their clash with Real Madrid. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic players ahead of their clash with Real Madrid. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

A former England youth international, the 21-year-old received his first call up to Denmark’s Under-21 side (eligible due to his mother’s side of the family) within two months of his arrival in Glasgow’s East End.

O’Riley didn’t look out of place against Carlo Ancelotti’s Galacticos either on Tuesday night and it’s easy to see why several Premier League clubs have been monitoring his progress closely.

However, the player’s focus has been solely on taking each game as it comes and he has warned Livingston there will be no European hangover when they visit Parkhead on Saturday.

Asked if there could be a negative reaction to the 3-0 defeat against the Spanish giants, O’Riley replied: “No, there won’t be. We’re not down in the changing room. We’re frustrated because it felt we could have got a lot more from it.

“And our process will still be the same. We’ll reflect on it, we’ll watch the clips back and see what we could have done better.

“There’s definitely a lot of things we could’ve done better, but I also feel there were a lot of things we did well. On Saturday we’ll just be our usual selves.

“I feel so frustrated with the outcome. We started the game so well and had some really good chances. It was just a bit annoying not to take them,

“We even had a really good one at the start of the second half, when it was still 0-0 and if that goes in then it might be a different game.

“Real are a very tough team and very ruthless and it was tough to come back from that. The reception we got from the fans was unbelievable, even after the game.

“We lost 3-0 but it almost felt like we’d won the game, that was the kind of support we go. That was cool from them. In my opinion the game could have been very different.

Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Matt O'Riley challenges Eden Hazard of Real Madrid during the Champions League match at Parkhead on Tuesday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“We know how good a side Real Madrid are, they control the game really well. But I think they only controlled it once they took the lead.

“If we took the first goal, and I think the first goal was massive, then it could have been a different matter. The first 55 minutes or so, I’d say we were the better team in terms of the better chances, but it was a lesson for us.

“There’s loads to learn, including for me personally. It just shows the difference at the very top level, they’re just so ruthless.

“We obviously can compete with these teams, we’ve proven that, but the result doesn’t show that and it’s disappointing.”

The feeling among the Celtic squad is a measure of how far the club have progressed under Ange Postecoglou that they didn’t come away with a positive result against the best club side in the world at present.

O’Riley admits it took him a few moments to appreciate the calibre of opposition he was up against once he was subbed off in the closing stages.

Joe Hart of Celtic reacts after Eden Hazard (not pictured) of Real Madrid scores their team's third goal Joe Hart of Celtic reacts after Eden Hazard (not pictured) of Real Madrid scores their team's third goal
Joe Hart of Celtic reacts after Eden Hazard (not pictured) of Real Madrid scores their team's third goal

He added: “When I came off I reflected on some of their players. Luka Modric was very good. For a guy at 37 to still be that good is impressive.

“It’s obviously nice to share a pitch with someone like that and to be honest just to test yourself against that kind of opposition is what it’s all about.

“A lot has changed but to be honest I feel comfortable at this level. I’m just really frustrated with the game, it’s a wasted opportunity because the fans were unbelievable.

“We could have repaid them by just taking a few of our chances, that’s why it’s annoying. There are fine margins, obviously.

“We’ve just got to be a bit more ruthless. That’s what we’ve got to learn. We don’t know how big a club we are.

“We have our supporters, it’s like one of the biggest clubs in the world. So we want to repay them by competing against these teams and actually winning games like this.”