THE game was edging towards the half-hour mark with Celtic dominating the flow of play against Dundee at Dens Park.
It was a one-sided Boxing Day encounter, but the champions had yet to be rewarded for their supremecy as they pushed the hosts onto the back-foot right from the kick-off in a must-win contest.
In the 29th minute, midfield mastermind Matt O’Riley slipped a superb inch-perfect ball into the tracks of Kyogo Furuhashi who was onside as he sped onto the glorious defence-splitting pass. It looked as though deadlock was about to be broken, that crucial breakthrough strike just a heartbeat away.
HOOPS’ OOPS…Kyogo Furuhashi whips the ball past Trevor Carson – and also past the post.
The Japanese international striker, the champions’ top scorer in the past two seasons, was in total control as he enticed Trevor Carson from his line. It was the classic one-v-one situation and Brendan Rodgers, watching in anticipation on the touchline, prepared to enjoy his team’s deserved first goal.
However, the manager’s preparation for a celebration ended in abrupt fashion when Kyogo inexplicably whipped the ball wide of the keeper’s right-hand post with the entire net gaping behind Carson who went through the motions, but must have dreaded the worst.
Rodgers grasped his head in frustration as the home side and their fans collectively blew a massive sigh of relief. And the visiting contingent groaned in unison.
Thankully, on-loan Portuguese star Paulo Bernardo managed to get the all-important barrier-breaking strike seven minutes after the turnaround and substitute Mikey Johnston rifled in two late efforts to make certain of the points.
But the trials and tribulations of a football manager were laid bare again as Celtic toiled for lengthy spells to seal their superiority.
BLOWING IN THE WIND…Kyogo Furuhashi’s expressions sums up what he thinks of his miss.
The Hoops had a remarkable THIRTY-EIGHT attempts on goal with only seven on target.
Scotland’s title kings, bidding for their twelfth crown in 13 years, had 74 pecent of the possession and forced an astonishing TWENTY-THREE corner-kicks.
With such mastery over the opposition, Celtic should really have racked up more goals than the mere three that separated the teams at the final whistle.
Someone is going to cop it. Maybe Saturday at Parkhead could be the time and place for such an occasion.
READY FOR LIFT-OFF…Brendan Rodgers watches Kyogo Furuhashi run onto Matt O’Riley’s pass.
GOING IN…the Celtic boss is convinced the ball is heading for the Dundee net.
AGONY…Rodgers can’t hide his frustration as the opportunity is squandered.
HEAD IN HANDS…Rodgers is dismayed – but the breakthrough goal was merely delayed 23 minutes.