CELTIC’S Special K, prolific hitman Kyogo Furuhashi, struck at the double once again to fire the champions to a 12-point advantage in the pursuit of a second successive title at Parkhead this afternoon.
The Japanese dangerman followed up his pair in the League Cup Final triumph against the same opponents in February by walloping another two into the Ibrox team’s net on a joyous Easter Saturday in the east end of Glasgow.
The unstoppable Hoops marksman has now claimed 28 strkes in a mesmerising and full-throttle campaign and he was joined on the goal trail by Filipe Jota on this occasion.
It’s all over bar the shouting as far as the chase for the crown is concerned. It was time to put up or shut up from Michael Beale and Co and the silence over Govan is now deafening.
Three wins are required for the flag to be flying over Parkhead for the eleventh time in 12 years.
Let’s get ready to party, folks!
PARADISE…Kyogo Furuhashi looks to the heavens after his two goals against the Ibrox side – again!
It was an intriguing contest and the visitors levelled with their first shot on target just on the interval to prevent the Hoops from taking a half-time lead.
Ange Postecoglou’s men had shot into the lead in the 26th minute following the most composed and fluent move of the opening half.
The ball was worked across from the right before Carl Starfelt passed to Greg Taylor who was swift to release Matt O’Riley clear on the left-hand side of the box.
The smooth midfielder showed a great change of feet to open up some space to whip in a low cross.
Kyogo took a touch with his left foot before swivelling to thump a right-foot drive away from the helpless Allan McGrgeor for his fourth goal in three game against the Glasgow opponents. It was to get better.
BY THE RIGHT…Kyogo Furuhashi flashes in the opening goal past Allan McGregor and Ben Davies.
It was justice for the Japanese striker who had seen a fifth-minute effort ruled out for offside on the say-so of the assistant referee.
Kyogo displayed lightning reflexes to latch onto a forward pass from Alistair Johnston to tame the ball and then shoot low into the net. His joy – and that of everyone in the ground with the exception of the visiting contingent – was cut short.
VAR didn’t bother taking a second look, but the frontman was a lot closer to be playing onside by Borna Barisic on the near side than may have been appreciated.
CLOSE CALL…Alistair Johnston passes the ball with Kyogo Furuhashi racing forward.
OFFSIDE…Kyogo Furuhashi slides the ball under Allan McGregor, but it’s ruled out.
The hosts didn’t argue with Kevin Clancy’s decision which was a lot more than could be said for their opponents who were quick to go to ground while claiming fouls with players waving imaginary cards under the nose of the referee.
Callum McGregor brought down the theatrical Tod Cantwell who jumped up while demanding a yellow card at least for the Hoops captain. It is a sickening gesture that should bring an automatic booking for any player piling any extra pressure on the whistler.
It must be admitted that Postecoglou’s men were not at their best in the opening period with far too many misplaced passes for comfort.
Aaron Mooy was taking his time in getting back into his stride and was guilty of a few balls that went astray and his lack of game sharpness was highlighted when he was caught daydreaming after being robbed by Malik Tillman who was eventually stopped in his tracks by the ever-alert Alistair Johnston.
GOAL-DEN BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates with the Celtic fans after his first strike.
Jota was denied twice by McGregor when he tried his luck from distance while Daizen Maeda looked in the mood on the opposite flank.
The visitors had claimed for a goal in the 20th minute when Alfredo Morelos knocked a right-wing corner-kick from Barisic past Joe Hart, but the referee, with a good view, immediately ruled it out for offside.
Pictures showed a blatant push in the back of Johnston by the Colombian and VAR agreed with the match official.
However, they did get one that counted when Tavernier swirled a right-wing free-kick high past the despairing Hart into the right-hand corner of the net.
The keeper stretched in vain as the 20-yard attempt struck the inside of the crossbar and bounced down just over the line.
Five minutes after the break, Hart made a smart save to his right from a snap shot from Morelos after a Johnston header had struck Cameron Carter-Vickers and bounced into the path of the striker.
He hit a first-time drive on target, but the veteran shotstopper reacted with instant reflexes to push the ball round the post.
Postecoglou made his first change in the 61st minute when he sent on Tomoki Iwata for Mooy – and sixty seconds later Kyogo had buried another drive behind McGregor to restore the title kings’ lead.
It was a bizarre bit of defending from Ben Davies to open the opportunity for the razor-sharp hitman. O’Riley started it with a neat pass into the tracks of Jota scampering clear on the right.
The Portuguese wizard sent a ball into the direction of Kyogo, but the Ibrox defender got there to direct the ball into the air. He followed up by hitting Jota with an attempted clearance and the ball broke to the Hoops’ deadliest marksman.
Once again, he didn’t hesitate as he flashed in a low shot that zipped through the legs of the startled McGregor for the second goal.
IN THE NET…Kyogo Furuhashi whips No.2 past Allan McGregor.
Three minutes later, Davies atoned when he blocked a shot from Kyogo that was goalbound after some great work by Taylor and O’Riley on the left.
It was only a matter of time before the third goal arrived and it was duly delivered by Jota with an opportunist strike in the 73rd minute.
Morelos played a dodgy ball back to defender John Souttar who mishit a pass to his keeper.
The wing ace spotted his chance to create mayhem and he raced onto the ball, waltzed away from the veteran netminder and rolled an angled shot into the inviting net.
FOR MY NEXT TRICK…Filipe Jota bamboozles Allan McGregor as he slips No.3 into the net.
Sead Haksabanovic and Oh Hyeon-gyu then replaced O’Riley and Jota in the 75th minute and, remarkably, the visitors were allowed to sneak in a second goal four minutes later.
The defence fell asleep as Barisic sent over a cross from the right and Tavernier was completely unmarked at the far post to head down and past the exposed Hart.
Postecoglou made his last changes in the 86th minute as he sent on David Turnbull and Alexandro Bernabei for Kyogo and Maeda and the Argentinian defender squandered a marvellous opportunity to kill off the contest.
He was sent clear on a delightful ball from Oh, but lacked composure as he was clean in on the keeper and the chance was lost.
At the end of the day, it mattered not a jot.
Celtic Park was jumping and the title is all about already bedecked in green and white ribbons.
TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Mooy (sub: Iwata 61), McGregor, O’Riley (sub: Haksabanovic 75); Jota (sub: Oh 75), Kyogo (sub: Turnbull 86), Maeda (sub: Bernabei 86).


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