Acuña’s commitment to the cause was certainly noted at Parkhead. ‘He is the king of the ball-winners,’ Van Marwijk gushed. ‘When you see how many important tackles he won this evening, it’s almost unbelievable. I do have to be honest and say that he was less effective in the second half. But for me the most important thing is that he’s shown he can play at this level. He has kept his feet against Sturm Graz, Nürnberg and now Celtic. That tells me enough.’
Van Marwijk appears to see Acuña primarily as a player who can raise the overall standard of his squad. ‘A player like him is also valuable when he isn’t playing. A guy like that strengthens the squad and also gives you the agreeable feeling that the team won’t lose too much quality if we play him.’
By and large, Van Marwijk was happy with his team’s performance in Glasgow. ‘Celtic played 3-5-2. I found it interesting to see how my team handled that. In the first ten minutes the team was searching, but I’m generally satisfied with how they did after that. Of course there’s plenty of work to be done. Unnecessary ball loss and a final pass that doesn’t connect too often are things we have to work on. But on the whole I have a positive feeling.’
Van Marwijk had a special word for Patrick Paauwe, the man who returned from injury to play in a new position. ‘You have to remember that Patrick hasn’t played for three months and then ends up in an unfamiliar leftback position. When you see how well he played you can only be positive,’ Van Marwijk confided, before joining the rest of the group in an Indian restaurant, specially reserved by Pierre van Hooijdonk.