FILIPE JOTA has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions in his two derby day outings this season.
On September 3 at Parkhead, the Portuguese maverick lit up the east end of the city with a dazzling solo goal as Ange Postecoglou’s side flattened their Ibrox opponents 4-0 in a match where Liel Abada fired in a double in the first-half and David Turnbull rolled in the final goal.
On January 2 at Ibrox, it was a different story for the champions who had got off to a flyer from Daizen Maeda after the Japanese flier turned on the afterburners to race through a retreating reaguard before sliding the ball beyond the outrushing Allan McGregor.
PARADISE…Filipe Jota accepts the acclaim of the Celtic fans after his superb solo goal in the 4-0 derby victory in September.
But, with Josip Juranovic toiling at left-back, the home side got back into the contest with two goals – one a penalty-kick – early in the second period.
Jota, who had been feeling unwell after a bug had struck the Celtic camp in the countdown to the game, remained on the substitutes’ bench until the 77th minute before being given the nod to join the action as a replacement for Reo Hatate.
The winger, bought for £6.5million from Benfica in the summer after his impressive season-long loan, made an impact with two minutes to go.
He forced play on the left, Giorgos Giakoumakis joined in during a goalmouth melee and Kyogo Furuhashi pounced to clip in the equaliser as he produced brilliant penalty-box predatory instincts.
So, what can we expect from Jota when the Glasgow neighbours lock horns in the Viaplay League Cup Final at Hampden on Sunday?
Simon Donnelly is convinced the Parkhead fans are in for a treat – and the opposing defence are in for a difficult afternoon.
The former Hoops forward said: “I think he is getting back to top form.
HEAD BHOY…Filipe Jota is all smiles after his rare headed goal in the 2-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice. Alistair Johnston, Carl Starfelt and Aaron Mooy join in the celebrations.
“After starting the season like a house on fire, his form had dipped a wee bit for whatever reason. You don’t know sometimes what can happen.
“Things can dip. A wee bit of confidence can go if you are not feeling well or have an injury or something in that regard.
“Ange had also taken him out of the team for one or two games, but there have been definite signs recently and I feel he’s just getting back to the basics in terms of what got him the number of assists and goals that he achieved before.
“He’s putting things into the box which are so hard to defend and when you have someone like Kyogo who relishes and attacks those openings.
“Jota is also getting into positions and getting on the end of things himself. He crept in for a goal against Kilmarnock just ahead of the goalkeeper and did again when at Tannadice against Dundee United for a header.
“That is the area where Liel Abada gets his goals and I think that has added to Jota’s confidence. He’s looking close to being back at the top of his game.
“I think he’s stripped it back a bit to what was happening before.”
Donnelly, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Players such as Jota are always being looked upon to go and create stuff and make things happen in the final third of the pitch, it’s the most difficult part of the game.
THE EQUALISER…Kyogo Furuhashi races away with the ball after netting Celtic’s second goal in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox.
“You look at his figures since he moved to the club and they have been exceptional.
“The numbers of goals and assists are really, really good. I said last season, you look at players who operate in Jota’s area of the pitch.
“They can have all the skill and ability, but the end product might not be there. That is not something you can point and say about Jota. He most certainly has an end product.
“His confidence may have taken a little dip when things might just not have been happening, but I feel he’s got back to getting those crosses in early and getting onto the end of things to deliver goals, which always helps.
“He has gone back to basics and what worked before.”