DUNDEE 2 CELTIC 4
CELTIC dangermen Kyogo Furuhashi and Filipe Jota claimed two goals apiece as the team swept aside the challenge of Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon.
The final scoreline hardly did Ange Postecoglou’s side any favours after dominating for lengthy periods and the home side scoring from their only two efforts on target.
The main thing was to return to Glasgow with the three points and the Hoops succeeded in their mission.
There was much to admire in this performance over and above the finishing skills of the Japanese and Portuguese forwards.
Anthony Ralston was again outstanding at right-back and was involved in three of the goals, Nir Bitton was commanding in the anchorman role, Liel Abada looked lively on the right flank, David Turnbull motored from first to last and skipper Callum McGregor breezed through proceedings.
JOY BHOY JOTA…Celtic’s Portuguese wizard Filipe Jota celebrates his opening goal at Dens Park.
However, it is worrying that the defence continues to fail to deal with straightforward crosses and goalkeeper Joe Hart will be the first to admit he should have done a lot better at Dundee’s second goal when he failed to collect a swirling ball from the left.
Celtic swamped the encounter with possession and it was fairly ludicrous they were a mere 2-1 ahead at the interval.
The home side had one effort to worry the visitors and, remarkably, the header from Danny Mullen landed in the net behind Hart, who was helpless on this occasion.
That unexpected strike against the run of play halved the Hoops’ advantage after two goals inside 20 minutes from Jota and Kyogo.
Ange Postecoglou’s side clicked into gear right from the off with everyone playing a part in the relentless pressure that saw the Tayside outfit surrender a goal in only eight minutes.
HOOP, HOOP, HOORAY…goalscorer Jota is congratulated by Stephen Welsh, Anthony Ralston and Liel Abada.
From one of Celtic’s nine first-half corner-kicks, David Turnbull’s right-wing cross was collected by Bitton who knocked it inside for McGregor. He teed up Ralston, producing a rollicking shift as usual, and the right-back thundered in a low shot from just outside the box.
It took a touch on the way through as his attempt whacked off the right-hand post, but before the home side had the opportunity to breathe a sight of relief, Jota pounced to whip a low drive beyond the flummoxed Adam Legzdins.
In the 15th minute, there was the first flash of Kyogo when he darted in front of defender Lee Ashcroft to snap in a header from an Abada right-wing cross, but his effort swept just wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
However, he had better luck in the 19th minute when he netted the second goal after a sublime move by the Hoops. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Abada combined before the ball was shuttled to the rampaging Ralston on the right.
He clipped in an exquisite cross and Kyogo’s timing into the box and his leap were in perfect co-ordination and his header zipped past Legzdins who hardly moved a muscle as the ball thumped into the net behind him.
RISE AND SHINE…Kyogo Furuhashi leaps to bullet Celtic into a two-goal lead against Dundee.
Four minutes later, a lapse in defence allowed Paul McMullen to flight over a cross from the left and Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh were caught on their heels as Mullen got in at the near post to divert a header into the net.
It was a poor goal to concede and Celtic’s reply was swift as they virtually camped in their opponents’ half for the remainder of the half.
In the 33rd minute, Legzdins had an amazing reflex save to thwart a thunderous header from Carter-Vickers from six yards following a right-wing delivery from Turnbull.
His central defensive colleague Welsh also had two opportunities following corner-kicks from Turnbull. The second in stoppage-time should have ended in the net. Welsh was unmarked from six yards, but somehow contrived to miss the target with the keeper rooted to his line.
Postecoglou’s side, however, started the second-half at breathtaking pace and had added two goals to the scoreline inside five minutes.
DOUBLE UP…Filipe Jota races away in celebration after scoring his second – and Celtic’s third – goal at Dens Park.
In the 47th minute, there was some sweet interplay between Abada and Turnbull before Ralston outmuscled Charlie Adam on the right to curl in an inviting cross.
Jota was the quickest to sense danger and got in first to sidefoot a left-foot drive past the stranded shotstopper.
Three minutes later, Jota sprinkled some stardust on the left wing to leave Cammy Kerr in his slipstream. He played a neat one-two with Josip Juranovic before setting up Kyogo and the club’s top scorer lashed a first-time left-foot drive into the inviting net.
It looked as though Celtic would at least match the six goals they scored against the same opponents at Parkhead in August, but, due to some bad luck and some awful finishing, they stuck at four.
There was a hiccup in proceedings when the home side claimed a second from an Ashcroft header after Hart misjudged a swinging cross from Luke McCallum in the 67th minute.
THUMBS UP…Ange Postecoglou delivers his verdict from the touchline.
Six minutes earlier, Postecoglou had sent on substitutes Giorgos Giakoumakis and James Forrest for Kyogo and Abada and Mikey Johnston joined them nine minutes from time when he replaced the hard-working Jota.
Worryingly, the Greek striker, who squandered a crucial last penalty-kick against Livingston a week ago, still looks off the pace and his only two notable moments in 20 minutes was a 35-yard shot that was high, wide and horrible and that was followed by a dreadful miss smack in front of goal after being set up by Forrest.
Overall, though, the Greek-Australian gaffer will have been satisfied to go into the international break following a team performance that was peppered with some extraordinary individual skills from players who are beginning to look very much at home in the green and white hoops.
Long may it continue.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Juranovic; Bitton, McGregor, Turnbull; Abada (sub: Forrest 61), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 61), Jota (sub: Johnston 81).