CELTIC won their third successive domestic game by the odd goal with the 1-0 triumph over Hearts at Parkhead last night.
Kyogo Furuhashi claimed his 14th strike of the campaign following three consecutive blanks which is a barren run by the Japanese frontman’s high standards.
Goals from Filipe Jota and Callum McGregor were good enough to overcome Aberdeen 2-1 in Glasgow on Sunday while it took a 74th-minute counter from substitute James Forrest to book a place in the Premier Sports League Cup Final against Hibs a fortnight on Sunday when he thumped in the decisive effort against holders St Johnstone.
Ironically, the 30-year-old Scotland international blew two excellent opportunities against the Tynecastle outfit to ease some of the tension that settled on an injury-hit Hoops side that had to display some praiseworthy reserves of strength and courage to keep Ange Postecoglou’s men within four points on the Premiership pinnacle.
ON THE DECK…Craig Gordon scrambles at the feet of James Forrest as it looks as though the winger can’t possibly miss.
IN THE NET…James Forrest crosses the line, but, unfortunately, the ball ricochets from the post as Craig Gordon sighs with relief.
Skipper McGregor was denied by his former team-mate Craig Gordon in the first-half with a thunderous long-range drive which the keeper athletically pushed round the post.
The team’s hard-working anchorman admitted the team lack a cutting edge at the moment to make life a bit easier for themselves – and the supporters – as they fail to overrun the opposition despite having the majority of possession.
McGregor said: “It was a good three points. The first-half was really good with some great bits of football, good intensity – everything we were wanting to do – but we just couldn’t get the second goal to try and kill the game at that stage.
“In the second-half, the game becomes a wee bit basketball, but I thought that the boys dug in really well. It’s a really difficult month and it’s a huge three points.
TAKE OFF…Craig Gordon flies through the air to touch away a rasping drive from Callum McGregor with Carl Starfelt getting a good view of the keeper’s heroics.
“Everybody could see how well we were playing, creating chances, but you just need that wee bit of ruthlessness just to put teams away when you’re on top in the game.
“You get the first one and then if you get the second one, it probably kills the game at that point.”
McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “Sometimes you need to grind it out a little bit and I thought we did that in the second-half.
“There are always periods in the game where the other team will have a bit of possession and maybe create one or two chances.
“And then, it’s just about trying to stay calm, stay organised and try to regain the ball again and in the last 15 minutes I thought we did that and created another couple of chances that we could have killed the game off at the other end.
“Overall, it was a good night, a really good three points and we move on to the weekend.”
THE ONE THAT MATTERED…Kyogo Furuhashi slams the ball beyond the helpless Craig Gordon.
Postecoglou’s men face Dundee United at Tannadice with a High Noon kick-off at Tannadice and, looking at the Tayside outfit, McGregor added: “They’ve shown in spells just how well-organised they are, they’re aggressive in the games, so we anticipate a really tough match.
“We know we’ll have to recover well, we go up there and we put a big shift in and make sure we come away with the three points.”
The teams drew 1-1 in Glasgow in September when Liel Abada headed the home side into the lead, but United responded quickly with an equaliser that saw them take a point.
Dame Fortune snarled on Celtic that afternoon with Jota, David Turnbull and Tom Rogic all striking the bar as the Hoops tried desperately to force a winner.
A rub of the green would be most welcome on this occasion.