ANGE POSTECOGLOU thanked his Celtic players for “getting the job done” in the 3-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park yesterday following a chaotic week.
The Hoops boss was left without several of his first-team squad due to Covid-related issues and injuries as he prepared to bring down the curtain on an eventful 2021 with the final game against Callum Davidson’s rock-bottom Perth outfit.
There was no sign of skipper Callum McGregor with Nir Bitton, who claimed the third and killer goal eight minutes from time, taking the captain’s armband.
RISE AND SHINE…Vasilis Barkas holds a corner-kick with Stephen Welsh and Nir Bitton helping out.
Vasilis Barkas made only his second appearance of the season with Joe Hart, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard missing while young Ryan Mullen was back-up keeper on the substitutes’ bench.
It was a makeshift line-up that had to be rejigged after only 15 minutes when Kyogo Furuhashi limped off with what looked like a recurrence of his hamstring injury as 18-year-old Joey Dawson came on for his debut.
Two first-half goals from the industrious Liel Abada helped to get the Hoops over the line before the winter break kicked in with the next Premiership match against Hibs scheduled for Parkhead on January 17 – five days ahead of the Scottish Cup opener at Alloa on the Saturday evening.
Reflecting on the lead-up to the crucial encounter against Saints, Postecoglou admitted: “The last couple of days have been pretty chaotic as you would imagine with everything that was happening.
“But we stayed calm through the whole thing.
“We knew that this was just a different challenge from the other challenges we have had so far and we just had to get on with it.
END GAME…Kyogo Furuhashi is assisted by referee Bobby Madden as he leaves the field early in proceedings at Perth.
“To be fair, it’s been challenging from the moment I set foot here, it has just been different challenges. That’s what I keep saying to the players, all along we haven’t made excuses or felt sorry for ourselves.
“We have just got on with the job. Every challenge we have had we have, for the most part, overcome.
“That is testament to the character within the group.”
Postecoglou, speaking to the Scottish Sun, added: “Yeah, it was a challenging week, but we’ve had a lot of challenging weeks and challenging games and to the players’ credit they have hung in there.
“We were excellent in the first-half. We scored two and could have had more. The conditions were challenging, but we played good stuff before the game got scrappy.
“Overall, I am really happy with the players’ attitude and commitment.
“It has been a challenging week and we got the job done.”