Celtic today took advantage of theRangers slip up at Easter Road yesterday as they dominated an ever improving Hearts team to build an early two point gap at the summit of the Cinch Premiership. The match ended 2-0 but in all honesty if some of the Celtic players had brought their shooting boots it could have been a few more.
An early goal from Japenese striker Kyogo, after good work from fellow countryman Daizen Maeda as well as David Turnbull, saw Celtic take the lead in the 13th minute and set the tone for the day as Hearts tried in vain to contain Celtic’s in-form attacking players. As they have done since the start of the season Celtic looked fresh and their play was crisp as they passed the ball around with ease in the Glasgow sunshine.
This season I’ve been especially pleased with the urgency shown by the players whenever we lose the ball to get possession back, which is a must when utilising the type of attack minded tactics we follow.
Jota, who has been in fantastic form recently, was causing the opposition all sorts of problems once again as he terrorised the Hearts full backs with his pace and trickery and was providing some decent balls into the box that unfortunately his teammates couldn’t take advantage of. Matt O’Riley was also getting himself into good positions but was one of those I mentioned previously who left his shooting boots at home.
Hearts did have an opportunity before the break when their main threat in attack, Josh Ginnelly, broke free on a counter attack but his shot was rushed and off target. Apart from that one opportunity, Hearts showed little else in the first half as Celtic dominated possession. The second half saw the away side have a more promising spell early on but once Celtic settled and got a foothold in the game, they took over control of the contest once again.
At this point it felt like a second was coming and when Giakoumakis came on for Kyogo midway through the second half, I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt the game was perfect for the big Greek to find the net. He will feel he could have done better with a headed effort not long after coming on as he failed to keep it down and on target but as usual the prolific poacher wasn’t to be denied.
After Alex Cochrane and Toby Sibbick both were sent for early showers after receiving their second bookings of the day, Giakoumakis got on the end of a Josip Juranovic ball to leave the scoreline more in line with how dominate Celtic were.
It’s great to see Celtic pick up yet another clean sheet and I have to say I have been mightily impressed by our defence so far this season. Moritz Jenz yet again impressed and Carter-Vickers is once again back to the standards he set last season.
It will be interesting to see if Ange Postecoglou will stick with the German once Carl Starfelt is fully fit and ready for 90 minutes. I have a feeling a lot of Celtic fans will believe Jenz should retain the shirt if he keeps his current form up and I can’t say I disagree.
Today was a tricky match that definitely had the potential for dropped points but we handled the challenge with ease. It’s not often I say this but even with just a one goal lead I never felt nervous that we would concede. I like the way we refuse to deviate from our attacking philosophy even with the slenderest of leads. Nothing worse than watching on as players start falling back to defend their lead which only invites more pressure on the team.
We yet again have a midweek without a game, with plenty of time for Ange to continue working with the players and of course we have the Champions League draw to look forward to on Thursday. It’s going to be interesting to see who we get and I hope that for once the draw is relatively kind to us as we have had some horrendous groups to navigate in the recent past.
I have to say however that I hope we do get a new challenge (and a new away day experience) such as one of the Madrid teams or even Dortmund. Surely we can’t draw Barcelona or AC Milan again? Whatever happens it has to be said that it’s good to be back in amongst the big boys, it’s been a long time coming.