ANGE POSTECOGLOU was mightily impressed by his champions as Celtic brought the curtain down on 2022 with an inspired performance against Hibs at Easter Road last night.

The Hoops boss was delighted with the overall performance of his hard-working, relentless players, but had a special word of of praise for two of his performers – Aaron Mooy and Daizen Maeda.

The World Cup stars contributed three goals against the Edinburgh outfit – with Kyogo Furuhashi netting the fourth – as the Hoops maintained their nine-point advantage ahead of Monday’s visit to Ibrox for the derby confrontation to kick-start the new year.

AARON THE FIRST…Matt O’Riley congratulates team-mate Mooy on his debut strike to put Celtic on their way to a well-deserved 4-0 win over Hibs at Easter Road.

Aussie Mooy thumped in his first goal for the club to open the scoring and he added a second with a penalty-kick after the interval.

Japanese frontman Maeda made up for an astonishing miss by scoring what his manager claimed was a possible award winner.

On Mooy, Postecoglou said: “Aaron’s been knocking on the door in terms of getting a goal because he’s been getting into some good areas and I know he’s been desperate to get one.

“I think the World Cup was a really positive one for us. The boys who’ve come back from that have come back with a real positive experience and with Aaron, it’s just been a matter of getting him fit.

“He knew that because he hadn’t played a lot of football for six months, but you can see now that he’s strong, his running capacity – I’ve always known he’s got a great engine in him – and the quality’s there, as well.”

KNOCK ON WOOD…Daizen Maeda dives full-length to thump in a close-range header, but is out of luck as the ball slams against the crossbar and rebounds straight to grounded keeper David Marshall.

PRIZE GUYS…Daizen Maeda is congratulated by Aaron Mooy and his Celtic team-mates after his sublime goal to double the team’s advantage.

On Maeda’s solo strike to double the advantage, the Greek-Australian gaffer said: “It has to be a goal of the season contender.

“Obviously, I coached Daizen in Japan as well and he’s such a strong character and such a selfless player for the team.

“The amount of work he puts in, in terms of pressuring oppositions – sometimes he gets no reward, or no recognition for, but he never stops.

“He was a bit unlucky with the header, but then he set up the first goal really well and his goal was magnificent and that’s credit to him.”

Reflecting on a good night’s work in the capital, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It was credit to the lads because they were brilliant. We had a feeling that Hibs would come at us early on, which they did in the first 10 minutes, and it was pretty frenetic.

“Their crowd was up for it, our crowd was obviously up for it, but I thought we held out very well and then once we got a grip in the game, we were outstanding.

HEAVEN’S ABOVE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his superb effort to make it 4-0.

WEATHERING THE STORM…Ange Postecoglou celebrates as his players defy the opposition – and the elements – to pick up three more points at Easter Road.

“Our goals were outstanding, our movement and general work-rate was exactly what it should have been.

“It was underpinned by a really strong work-rate. Whenever we didn’t have the ball, we made it really difficult for them, we hunted in packs and got the ball back quickly, which we needed to do and I thought our play in the front third was excellent again.

“It was really aggressive running, aggressive passing into the right areas. We scored four, but we had more chances to score a few more.”

A beaming Postecoglou added: “So, 2022 has been a great year for us and, again, that’s credit to the lads. We’ve lost one league game out of 37, which shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“For the boys, home and away, to be consistently performing at such a high level is credit to them.

“And I think what you’re seeing is that we’re getting stronger.

“We finished 2022 stronger than we started and our goal and aim and ambition is to start 2023 stronger and finish even stronger than that.”


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