Reo Hatate produced the Celtic performance he desperately needed yesterday

By David Walton

April 10, 2022

Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate yesterday delivered a standout performance for the Hoops, and it was evident how much he knew he needed it.

The Japanese star, who arrived in January from Kawasaki Frontale, has had an impressive start to life in Scotland. However, since his starring role in the 3-0 win over Rangers in February, his performances have been mixed.

Hatate has been in the starting line-up of 8 of our last 9 league matches since the win over Rangers at Parkhead. But it’s fair to say he’s struggled to shine individually.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

It’s not that Reo’s performances have been bad, but they haven’t been particularly tidy. He’s often been a touch messy with his passing, and has shown a tendency to want to play a lot of them first time when it hasn’t been particularly necessary.

Combine that with the fact that he hasn’t been anywhere near the goal threat in recent weeks that he was in that 3-0 win, and it’s fair to say the attacking midfielder had been waiting for a performance like yesterday. After all, it had been 10 games since Hatate had managed a direct goal contribution.

That changed in a superb display against St Johnstone that shot to life in the first 15 minutes. He was constantly looking to break through the defence and combine with the forward players. Even excluding his opening goal, he had 2 further efforts saved by Zander Clark early on before winning a penalty with another advancing run in the second 45.

Celtic 7-0 St. Johnstone | Full-Time Reaction

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Celtic 7-0 St. Johnstone | Full-Time Reaction
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Reo Hatate coming to life for Celtic at just the right time

As mentioned earlier, his passing had been a bit off and on before yesterday. However, that wasn’t the case against Saints as he managed 43 accurate passes from a total of 48. That left him with a 90% passing accuracy overall [Fotmob].

Reo was also only dispossessed once in the game and managed 3 recoveries as he showed the energy needed to track back and ensure there was no danger up the other end.

It’s clear already that Hatate is a total bargain signing. He reportedly only cost the Hoops £1.4m [The Scotsman]. Given what he’s added to the cause this year, it feels like he’s already paid us back. But at the same time, there was an understanding that he needed to show a slight improvement on recent weeks to back-up the hype surrounding him.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

You could clearly see in his reaction to his goal just how much the moment meant to him. He knew the importance of getting back amongst the scoresheet again and re-establishing himself as a goal threat.

Hopefully, it spurs him on to be more inventive and threatening in the final third as we enter the closing weeks of the season. Another goal against Rangers next weekend, for example, would do wonders for his stock amongst the support.

But he needed that display yesterday. Lively, composed, accurate, and a real goal threat. Exactly what we want to see from him consistently.

In other news, Ange Postecoglou addresses the half-time chat that inspired Celtic to 7-0 rout