Pat Bonner raves about "top class" Celtic talent on BBC Sportsound
Celtic great Pat Bonner has singled out Portuguese winger Jota for his “top class” skillset after another sparkling display against St Johnstone.
Jota was electric in the opening spell at Hampden yesterday in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final clash as he threatened to run riot. His influence led to 3 early opportunities that weren’t put away.
He did, however, manage to conjure up a brilliant piece of initiative that led to the winner. His brilliant takedown and charge to the by-line saw him get a ball into the box that would eventually be hammered home by James Forrest.
It didn’t quite go down as an assist, but it was yet another big moment this season in which the on-loan Benfica talent was at the heart of. And touching on him on BBC Sportsound post-match yesterday, Bonner was full of praise as he highlighted his first half rabona:
“That first opening 15 minutes, he was going on the outside. His rabona was just fantastic. That’s what the Celtic fans want to see from their wide players – that trickery, that skill, that creativeness. He has it in abundance.
“Down the left-hand side, going to the byline, he put a great cutback to David Turnbull who probably should’ve scored. That was probably Celtic’s best chance of that opening period. But then of course he goes on the inside too. James Forrest has got that in his game also, but Abada is slightly different. I think when teams play against him, they push him one way, but with this guy Jota, he can go both ways. It’s very, very difficult and you need help as a defender.
“I thought Brown [St Johnstone defender] settled into it when he got his distances right after that first 15 minutes, and he was able to get out quickly to him and stop him getting at him with a bit of pace. He wasn’t as effective after that, but he’s certainly a very top-class player.”
Scottish opposition finding out you can’t switch off against Jota
It was a big moment for Jota yesterday once again. At the heart of a semi-final winning goal at the national stadium? That certainly boosts his reputation further as he continues to make the most of his loan spell in Glasgow.
What we learned yesterday was that Jota is always a threat. He may fleet in and out of games at times. He may struggle at times with either his end product or his decision-making in the final third. But what he does is always come back for more.
St Johnstone found that out yesterday. Jota had no right to command the ball and play such a key role in the winner yesterday. But his sheer persistence combined with his skill allowed him to standout as a key man once more.
He’s one of those players you simply need to keep on the pitch even if it looks like he’s struggling. Jota doesn’t need to be flying and having the best of games to make an impact. The fact he can pop up out of nowhere with a crucial contribution is telling. That’s what separates the top class players from the rest.
Now, he’ll get the chance to stamp his mark on a cup final at Hampden next month. This is exactly the kind of occasion he moved to Celtic Park to experience.
Hopefully, he can prove to be the difference once again when the final comes around.