A display of controlled dominance saw Celtic sweep Livingston aside 3-0 on Wednesday night at Celtic Park. First half goals from Greg Taylor, Daizen Maeda, and Kyogo Furuhashi had the game won by the interval as the champions coasted to a 6th straight victory without conceding a goal.
Much had been made of David Martindale’s pre-match comments that his Livingston side were pound-for-pound the best the team in the league. While the Livi head coach did his talking off the pitch, Ange Postecoglou brushed his comments aside and allowed his players to do their talking where it matters most; on the pitch.
It may be cliched to say, but from the first whistle to the last, Celtic were relentless in their approach, taking the game to the visitors and barely allowing them a moment’s respite.
Maeda and Jota were both in lively form on the wings, causing problems for the Livingston defence time and again with a series of dangerous deliveries towards the near post area, intended for Kyogo to attack.
While the away side defended resolutely in the opening quarter of the game, every clearance was picked up and recycled by the Celtic midfield trio of McGregor, Hatate, and O’Riley as the home side dominated possession.
Putting Livi to the Sword
It felt like only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken and that moment came just before the half-hour mark as Celtic’s patience was rewarded. Player of the season candidate Greg Taylor collected a lay-off from Reo Hatate and swept an angled drive across George in the Livingston goal and into the far corner.
It was the left-back’s third goal of the season and second against Livingston.
The second followed shortly after as Daizen Maeda charged down a clearance inside the box with the ball ricocheting off the Japanese forward and into the net to double Celtic’s advantage.
Livi then came close to halving their deficit on a rare foray forward with 5 minutes of the half to play. Bruce Anderson capitalising on a stumble by Carl Starfelt before seeing his curling effort rebound out off the post.
That was about as good as it got for Livi who had the final nail hammered into their coffin just before the break when Kyogo latched onto a long clearance from Matt O’Riley and raced through on goal before placing a shot beyond George to put the game beyond doubt.
Of course, VAR had to get involved to review a potential foul in the build up to the third goal, however, with no infringement committed the goal and Celtic’s 3-0 lead stood.
Positive Vibes Only
For once though, the chat on the half-time show was not centred on a contentious VAR decision, instead Laura, Paul, and myself were able to focus on the merits of what was one Celtic’s finest opening 45 minutes of the season so far.
Talk of hitting 5, 6, or even 7 was mooted and Laura even broke into song, debuting her contender for Oh’s goal celebration song.
Back on the pitch, Celtic continued to dominate in the second half but lacked the cutting edge and ferocity of the first half, instead playing the game out as more of a training exercise.
Valuable minutes were awarded to Oh and Turnbull, while Iwata was given a run out in the final 5 minutes as Ange Postecoglou looks to keep his players in prime condition for the remainder of the season.
St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park is up next for the Hoops on Sunday. If you can’t make it to the game, be sure to tune in to A Celtic of Mind’s matchday coverage. We can’t promise another song from Laura, but we can promise some top quality Celtic content.