3 minute read

13/11/2022 | 12:40pm

Celtic continued their relentless defense of their Scottish Premiership crown by beating Ross County at Parkhead on Sat. The Old Firm outfit jumped to nine points ahead of bitter rivals Rangers at the summit.

It may seem all doom and gloom in Glasgow, but Ange Postecoglou is enjoying a great time. They have won 14 of their first 15 league games and are now heading into the World Cup break.

This latest triumph was, however, far from smooth sailing, although not necessarily as a result of the home side’s performance, having again been on the receiving end of a questionable VAR decision as Matt O’Riley was harshly penalised for handball just after the interval.

The visitors took advantage of that controversial call to take the lead at the penalty spot. However, the hosts quickly retook the lead through David Turnbull before Sead Haksabanovic scored his third goal in four league games in stunning fashion.

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Following that impressive comeback, the Hoops boss was notably full of praise for the midfield pairing of the aforementioned O’Riley and Reo Hatate, stating that the pair had helped to fill the “void” left behind by the injury absence of captain Callum McGregor, while also teasing that “we’ll see the best of them after the break.”

The display of Hatate, in particular, caught the eye as the diminutive midfielder put his recent Japan snub behind him to sparkle in the centre of the park, having had arguably one of his “best games in a Celtic jersey” against Malky Mackay’s side, in the words of journalist John McGinley.

That outing had come after the January arrival was ‘not at his best‘ during the midweek win over Motherwell, according to Glasgow Live’s Ben Banks, with ex-Bhoys striker Chris Sutton also suggesting that the one-cap gem ‘looked off it‘ at Fir Park, with a relentless run of games having potentially begun to catch up with him.

Yesterday’s J-League veteran was not fatigued. He had made a real impact on his playmaking berth, including a staggering five key passes from his 90-minute stint.

While the 24-year-old did lose possession 15 times, that was arguably a sign of the midfield maestro simply attempting to make things happen, having played his part in both of his side’s goals on the day, first doing brilliantly to tee up Turnbull with a driving run inside the area for the equaliser, before a neat one-two with Haksabanovic saw the latter man net the winner.

Such involvement unsurprisingly saw Hatate recording a stunning match rating of 7.9, as per SofaScore – the joint-highest of any of his teammates – having once again showcased his undoubted importance to the champions.

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