Genius Ange call, Kyogo answers critics; 3 things we learned as Celtic thrash St Johnstone

By John McGinley

December 24, 2022

Celtic produced a Christmas cracker of a performance this afternoon to comfortably thrash St Johnstone 4-1 in the Scottish Premiership.

Doubles from Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate had the Bhoys in cruise control before Drey Wright scored a consolation goal, pushing Celtic nine points clear at the top of the table.

With changes in the team, players in different positions and Celtic again motoring, what are the big talking points? Here are three of ours after a great day for the team…

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Right-back call pays off big

Of all the options Ange Postecoglou had at his disposal following an injury to Anthony Ralston, I’m not sure many predicted Reo Hatate featuring on the right side of the defence.

We know he’s played at left-back previously but the smart money was on Alexandro Bernabei coming into the team and Greg Taylor switching flanks.

It was a genius move from the manager because Hatate produced a man-of-the-match performance from the position, expertly getting up and down the pitch to be one of our most influential players.

His supporting runs were excellent, first to open the scoring from distance, then to spring open the St Johnstone defence for a second. On this showing, there’s nothing to worry about while we wait for Josip Juranovic to return and Alistair Johnston to feature.

Kyogo answers critics

For some reason, there’s a lot of chatter around Kyogo Furuhashi as an individual this season. Part of that is due to team performances in the UEFA Champions League and his failure to reach the World Cup, but it’s always felt harsh to single the Japan star out for criticism.

It was renewed in the wake of last week’s trip to Pittodrie, where he missed golden chances, but he’s certainly rebounded well this week. He followed up his crucial goal against Livingston was a superb brace today, showing everyone he is still the man to finish off chances at Celtic.

The forward now has seven goals in his last 10 matches for the Bhoys and sits comfortably as the club’s top scorer this season with 14 in all competitions. He’ll again be crucial in upcoming games against Hibernian and Rangers.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic won’t be getting complacent

Given Celtic sit nine points clear at the top of the table, the biggest danger to losing that cushion is Celtic themselves. Complacency can be a worry at this stage of the season with the urgency of a late-season trophy hunt feeling far away and the excitement of the season’s start already a distant memory.

Ange Postecoglou lit a fire under the team this week with well-timed media criticism and changes to the team today, reminding everyone that no one’s position in the team is safe if they don’t perform to expectations.

The response was excellent from the players today, especially in the first half and it bodes well for the challenges to come. Everything is in our hands this season and if we can keep this intensity up, it’s hard to see who will stop us.

In other news, Report: Liel Abada set for Celtic contract talks.