Abysmal refereeing but Celtic are unstoppable; 3 things we learned as Bhoys surge 9pts clear

By John McGinley

November 12, 2022

Celtic have moved nine points clear of Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership table after a dramatic afternoon of action at home to Ross County.

The Bhoys managed to overcome a deficit after conceding yet another handball penalty, with David Turnbull and Sead Haksabanovic finding the goals for a 2-1 win.

It was another Celtic match full of talking points, but what are our main takeaways from another brilliant Saturday? Here are three…

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Referees continue to perplex Celtic

David Munro’s performance as referee today was bordering on farcical. From a failure to punish the Ross County goalkeeper for a clear rule infringement to yet another baffling handball decision and lots more small calls in between, it was yet more evidence that the standard of refereeing isn’t being aided by technology, despite the hype.

A real sense of injustice was flowing around Celtic Park after County were awarded their penalty. Although David Cancola stuck it away, ironically the spot kick may well have helped the overall performance. It fired up the crowd and in turn the players fed off of that energy to move up through the gears.

It’s a pretty chaotic situation at the moment. Hopefully, the World Cup break can help the referees as much as it should players across the division. They seem to have collectively lost the plot at the moment. This rushed roll out of VAR, for me, has been shambolic and a serious review of processes and consistency needs to take place.

Celtic unstoppable regardless

Celtic’s response to going a goal down today was impeccable and a real mark of why we are where we are in the table. This group’s resilience under Ange Postecoglou is remarkable and, yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s also the mark of champions.

Even with a deficit, it always felt like the Bhoys were going to surge back into the game and pick up points today. Nobody was ever truly worried. Reo Hatate, David Turnbull, Sead Haksabanovic, Matt O’Riley – everyone dug deep to get the job done.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go until the end of the campaign. It’d be absurd to designate us as surefire title winners. But you have to admit that any confidence has been earned. Celtic are by far the best team in the country, with a unique mentality that allows them to get through difficult situations. What a team.

Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Reo Hatate was the hero

If we’re going to single out one player from today’s match then it has to be Hatate. The Japanese midfielder was exceptional in the middle of the park, especially in the second half when we had to dig ourselves out of a hole.

It was his brilliant movement in and around the box that led to both goals and he’ll be credited with two assists as a result. More than that though he was just the spark we needed to establish a dominant presence in the match. He grabbed that game and didn’t let go.

He’s not an outright squad leader in the way you would consider Callum McGregor, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Joe Hart or Greg Taylor might be. But since the captain’s injury I feel like he’s really stepped up to become the driving force of the midfield. Today was the perfect example of that and I’m looking forward to seeing the heights he can reach in the remainder of the season.

In other news, David Turnbull lauds Celtic teammate who he’s seen reach ‘another level’ recently.