Ange masterclass sub, Jota perseveres; 3 things we learned as Celtic thrash St Mirren

By John McGinley

March 5, 2023

Celtic have finished the Scottish Premiership weekend nine points clear at the top of the table after a rousing second half performance against St Mirren resulted in a 5-1 victory.

The Buddies opened the scoring early on from a penalty after Greg Taylor was judged to have handled the ball inside the box. At half-time, 1-0 down, it looked like it could be a long day for the Bhoys even against ten men. But Celtic blew the home side away thanks to goals from Jota, Alistair Johnston, Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley and Hyeongyu Oh.

What were the big takeaways from a dramatic afternoon? Here are three of ours…

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Ange Postecoglou’s masterclass sub

At the interval, a goal behind, it was clear that substitutions had to be made by the manager. But the one he chose was not what some would have expected. Daizen Maeda coming off was the right call but it seemed the game was crying out for a bit of Celtic physicality – perhaps Oh coming into the game or Sead Haksabanovic.

However, Postecoglou chose Liel Abada to come on for Maeda and to say it paid off is an understatement. The Israeli international was superb in the second half, immediately causing St Mirren problems before going on to score a goal himself and assist another.

Three of the manager’s substitutes actually scored on the day – a strong sign there’s immense motivation on the bench to find form for Celtic. Credit to Postecoglou and his staff for changing things in the way they did across the afternoon – it undoubtedly contributed to the victory.

Jota perseveres

It’s fair to say Portuguese winger Jota was having a difficult day for much of today’s match. While he was getting on the ball plenty in the first half, he couldn’t seem to create too much and saw his only effort on goal saved by Trevor Carson.

Seemingly frustrated with the physical battles and determination of St Mirren, Jota nonetheless persevered and it was his crucial opening goal that really paved the way for Celtic to go on and win the match.

It was a strong demonstration that Jota doesn’t just possess skill and ability, but the brilliant attributes you need to be a winner. Even if it isn’t going your way, if you stick in and keep to the principles set by the manager, good things can still come. He dug it out in Paisley and that’s what matters.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Laid back Mooy makes a huge difference again

Another who wasn’t exactly hitting the heights in the first half, only to contribute massively after the interval is Aaron Mooy. The laid back Australian didn’t even have to get out of second gear to make the difference, but did brilliantly for Celtic’s opening goals.

His cross in for Alistair Johnston to finish from a set-piece was particularly sublime. The 32-year-old was also excellent at exploiting space on the counter and from turnovers as St Mirren realised they couldn’t just sit in and defend anymore.

He’s been such an important player for the Bhoys since the World Cup break. Today’s contributions were the kind that help push a club on to win titles – and he seemed to do it so effortlessly and casually. What a guy!

In other news, Another version of Jota’s Celtic song goes viral with potential collab in the offing.