ANGE POSTECOGLOU was delighted with Celtic’s performance in the 4-1 triumph over St Johnstone at Parkhead yesterday which restored the champions’ nine-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.
However, the Hoops boss was just as joyful his players had delivered a timely gift to the supporters to thank them for their exceptional backing from day one.
Doubles from Japanese duo Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate, playing in an unaccustomed right-back role, fired the side to their eleventh successive league victory and Scotland’s title kings are aiming at bringing down the curtain on 2022 with a final success when they face Hibs at Easter Road on Wednesday evening.
The beaming Hoops gaffer said: “Firstly, I’m glad we’re sending our supporters home happy and they can enjoy Christmas Day with their families. So, hopefully, everyone has a happy and safe one.
“I was really pleased with the lads. I thought we were really good. From the start we controlled the game, we looked dangerous all the time.
“We scored four, but we probably could have had a few more with a bit of luck. So, credit to the boys, I thought it was a good performance.
“I think it was important to freshen it up a little bit because it is such a quick turnaround.
“Coming off a long break, having three games in a short space of time was always going to test us, so I guess the luxury for me is that I have quality players I can bring in.
“I thought it was important we used them on this occasion and I thought they all contributed well.”
Hatate produced a Man-of-the-Match performance as he covered in the No.2 slot for the injured Anthony Ralston and the unavailable pair of Josip Juranovic and Alistair Johnston.
The 25-year-old utility star was a stand-out stand-in and Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “He’s set a pretty high bar for the other full-backs – and he’s probably in there telling them how easy it is to play there!
“It was credit to Reo, as well. He was really disciplined and I had to get a bit creative with it.
“But the way we play and we still had more of the ball whatever sort of defensive frailties there may have been with it, I still felt he was disciplined enough to do the job for us, also give us something going forward and I think he did that.
“He scored two goals, but his general play was really good and composed, and credit to him.”
It remains to be seen if Hatate will assume the same responsibilities in Edinburgh in midweek if Ralston is still struggling for full fitness.
However, Postecoglou will realise he will be able to field the player in the full-back role without any hesitation or trepidation.