Celtic 3—1 Hibs

I’m glad Kyogo and Hatate aren’t in the Japanese squad. I’m glad Carter-Vickers isn’t away with the American squad. Not glad Greg Taylor is carrying an injury, and Hatate picked up one too against Hibs at Parkhead, yesterday. Hibs were long odds to pick up a point. But the introduction of Oh in sixty minutes changed the game. Ironically, his first miskick of the ball was from a corner. He’d another half chance a few minutes later from another cross ball. Oh, on the 81st minute, ragdolled Hanlon as he met a cross from a corner and scored the goal we were all waiting for—and it was tops off time as he took the plaudits and the booking.

We could breathe. There was still time for his fellow substitute Abada to run through on goal, fall over his feet, win a penalty and get it rescinded by VAR.

Then for Haksabanovic to score what has become one of his trademark goals on the 95th  minute. Cutting inside and picking the corner of the net as if nine defenders and the keeper weren’t there. The Montenegrin started on the wing against Hearts at Tynecastle. He was taken off as Postecoglou replayed that old favourite, Jota on the left, cutting in, and Abada on the right.

As we come into the last nine league games, we’ve three games against Rangers which will determine whether it’s treble or double this season. Ironically, apart from the Hearts game away we’ve lost the first goal in the last three fixtures. Sometimes you get statistical anomalies like that. But Celtic are heavy favourites against any other team in Scotland, including Rangers. We’re better than the rest combined, but that doesn’t mean we need to just turn up.  

Opposing managers such as Lee Johnston yesterday are targeting our left back position to help them up the park. Taylor and Bernabei are tiny. So they are looking for a flick on and winning a shy or free-kick. Standard fare that Alan McGregor also employs and empties. On Saturday it came up with Starfelt being caught on VAR having a hold of Hanlon’s shirt from a long throw-in from the left.

Josh Campbell put the penalty away and sent Joe Hart the wrong way on the 39th minute.

Hibs were down to ten men by then when Youn got sent off for a foul on Startfelt and then Carter-Vickers. The game didn’t change in that we still had around eighty-percent of the play.

But we know the rules. The opposing keeper needs to have a blinder and the opposing team need to ride their luck. Former Celtic keeper, Marshall, had a good-enough game. He’d a few saves from Jota and O’Riley and Kyogo chested the ball into his midrift from the six-yard line.

Jota’s penalty on the 52nd minute was dreadful. Luckily, it squeezed under Marshall. Carter-Vickers had been held in the box. Playing against ten men and with most of the ball and most of the game in front of us, it shouldn’t have felt like a lifeline, but it did.

I’ve been accused of hyperbole (talking shite) but I think Hatate is one of the best midfielders in Europe. His form dipped at the end of last season. And he’s had a few game were he’s less than effective, but what a player he is. We missed him when he went off.

David Turrnbull, young Scottish Player of the Year, not long ago, I feel sorry for him, which is never a good sign. Hatate is ahead of him in the pecking order.

The same could be said of O’Riley. It used to be when Rogic wasn’t playing O’Riley was. Now Mooy’s form has blown the young Danish (English) prospect away.

Neither Turnbull or O’Riley did enough against Hibs to suggest they’ll be first picks against Rangers, when it really matters.

If Hatate returns in time for these fixtures, he’ll start every time. If not, I’d guess O’Riley will step into the midfield triumvirate with McGregor and Mooy.

Kyogo will start every time. But Oh has proved himself to be a bull of centre-forward. It gives us both something different and something new. Maeda, is a Postecoglou favourite, both for his speed and work rate. He also scores goals. Abada and Haksabonovic also score, but lack the Japanese forward’s graft. Jota (with the exception of his squib of a penalty) looks like he’s returning to top form.

Our defence pretty much picks itself. Hart in goal. Johnston to the right. Ironically, the young Canadian didn’t start the game well against Hibs. Doyle-Hayes was quick enough to nip in and block his first couple of passes and make him look ponderous. Greg Taylor has been a revelation, but is now carrying an injury. Bernabei came on after an hour against Hibs and had a terrific game. But he didn’t have to defend. Starfelt hit the bar with a header, was unlucky with another attempt and gave away a penalty. I’m not a fan of the Swede. But he’s going to see the season out. The most important game is the next one. But really, we want to rub Rangers’ noses in it. Beat them at Parkhead. Hammer then at Hampden. Thrash them at Ibrox. Stop all this pish about them being anything other than mediocre at best, with a manager that is a chancer.        


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