The first of a double header between Hearts and Celtic took place on Wednesday evening as the Hoops welcomed the capital side to Parkhead on a chilly Glasgow night.
Heading into the match, the champions were nine points clear at the top of the table and following it, said lead was sustained courtesy of a deserved 3-1 victory.
Here’s how the players rated.
Joe Hart – 6/10
Joe Hart had little to do in the Celtic goal this evening. The Englishman, though, was sharp off his line at times and if it wasn’t for an early Josh Ginnelly header, he would’ve had a clean sheet.
Anthony Ralston – 5/10
Coming in at right back for Alistair Johnston, Anthony Ralston was sub par. The Scot seemed to lack confidence and was inaccurate in his passing. In addition, Ralston lost concentration at times in a poor performance.
Cameron Carter-Vickers – 8/10
The former Spurs centre back put in a thorough display at the heart of the Celtic defence. Carter-Vickers was dominant aerially and played the ball out with confidence. Moreover there was a period in the second half where the 25 year old ventured forward into more advanced positions.
Carl Starfelt – 6/10
Carl Starfelt didn’t put a foot wrong in the Celtic defence although the Swede didn’t particularly stand out. His partnership with Carter-Vickers continues to blossom and the fact both the American and Starfelt haven’t lost a league game when starting together remains.
Alexandro Bernabei – 7/10
The young Argentinian full back improved as the match went on. Particularly in the second half, Bernabei was able to drive up and down the left hand side with ease and it was he who played in Haksabanovic for his goal. It remains to be seen what is wrong with Greg Taylor as he was not in the squad tonight although the raw Bernabei filled in amply for the Scot this evening.
Callum McGregor – 6/10
Starting at the base of the Celtic midfield, Callum McGregor was passable in his performance. The Celtic captain did misplace a few passes at times although on the whole, was adequate.
Aaron Mooy – 7/10
Aaron Mooy played some impressive passes in the Celtic midfield this evening. The Australian looked to get the likes of Kyogo and Liel Abada in behind and this was amply displayed when he played a lovely, disguised reverse ball to set up Kyogo for Celtic’s go-ahead goal. The 32 year old came off for Tomoki Iwata with ten to go.
Matt O’Riley – 6/10
The Dane wasn’t particularly eye catching this evening after being rewarded a start for his goal against St. Mirren at the weekend. O’Riley did get in behind at times and combine well with Maeda when he was on the park although he was inaccurate on a few occasions with his passing and didn’t produce any moments of magic.
Liel Abada – 6/10
The Israeli winger had a significant opportunity 22 minutes in although he mishit his shot and it dragged wide. Other than this, Abada was rather quiet in what was a muted performance despite his vivaciousness and impact at the weekend.
Daizen Maeda – 7/10
In the half hour he played before being withdrawn through injury, Daizen Maeda was rather effective. The Japanese constantly looked to run at his man after receiving the ball on the left. He also contributed defensively, pressing well and winning the ball back high up the pitch. Further, it was Maeda who drew Celtic level on 25 minutes when he ran in at the back post to finish first time from a tremendous Kyogo cross.
Kyogo – 8/10
In an all round amicable performance, Kyogo bagged himself a goal and assist alike. The Japanese made an intelligent run out wide for Mooy to slide him in before flashing a greatly inviting ball across goal for Maeda to finish from. In the second half, Kyogo turned scorer. He and Mooy combined again with the striker slamming home from close range to put Celtic in front with half an hour to go. Kyogo now has 20 league goals in the 2022/23 season and this tally will undoubtedly continue to grow as the weeks go on.
Jota replaced the injured Maeda half an hour in and the Portuguese offered something different on the wing. He got on the ball and put on display his characteristic trickery and flair as he combined well with Bernabei down the left.
Ange Postecoglou then made a triple change on 70 minutes. Reo Hatate came on for Matt O’Riley and had some innovative moments which disclosed his quality meanwhile Oh, who took the place of Kyogo, provided a physical presence in the Celtic attack as he looked to hold up the ball. Sead Haksabanovic perhaps made the most significant impact of Postecoglou’s altercations. The Montenegrin was vibrant and lively on the left, getting on the ball amply and carrying it with ease. Moreover on the 84th minute when he received from Bernabei just outside the box, Haksabanovic done a quick drop of the shoulder before bending and dipping the ball into the top right corner. The 23 year old always seems to make a positive impact off the bench and he should undoubtedly get more minutes for his efforts.
The final Celtic change of the night saw Tomoki Iwata come on for Aaron Mooy with ten to go. The Japanese appeared sharp although it is hard to judge based off the amount of time he had on the pitch.
Celtic’s 3-1 triumph this evening took them one step closer to the title. Should the Bhoys win their next seven league games, they are champions of Scotland once more. This Saturday, though, it is cup action. Postecoglou’s men take on Hearts yet again but this time the clash is at Tynecastle. A 12.15pm kick off is pencilled in for the quarter final showdown.