MATT O’RILEY managed to overshadow the prolific Kyogo Furuhashi as Celtic romped to a 4-1 triumph over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park this afternoon.
The elegant playmaker had scored only two goals going into this encounter while the Japanese hitman had walloped in 28 to add to the 20 last season.
It looked as though Kyogo was on course to become a Half-Century Celt when he whipped in a low drive in only seven minutes to give the champions the advantage in Ayrshire.
MATT FINISH…smooth midfielder Matt O’Riley beats Killie defender Liam Donnelly to fire in Celtic’s third goal.
Remarkably, though, the lightning-swift hitman blew the opportunity when he smashed a penalty-kick off the post in the first-half as O’Riley took the spotlight with two excellent strikes to sit alongside Daizen Maeda’s header that had doubled the visitors’ advantage in only 12 minutes.
O’Riley, who struck 11 times in his debut crusade after arriving in January on a bargain £1.5million move from third-tier MK Dons, didn’t claim his first strike this time around until he netted in the 5-1 win over St Mirren in Glasgow on March 5.
The Danish Under-21 playmaker said: “I think the wait for the first goal was probably the hardest bit mentally.
“I don’t want to come across as selfish as I’m not that kind of player, but when you are in my position, it would be nice to have scored at least one by that time of the season.
“When that first one came, that was like a sense of relief and I think now you’re starting to see from me it’s a bit more effortless in terms of my performances.
“It’s kind of happening now, which is nice, but, regardless, as long as I’m helping the team, that’s the main thing.”
LIFE O’RILEY…the Celtic midfielder is congratulated by his team-mates after netting No.4.
O’Riley, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “We were really fluid. There was a slight change to our shape in the midfield area and I think it worked really well.
“We had a lot of fluid rotations and I think they really struggled with that, especially having two in midfield and us having Greg and Ally coming inside to overload, I think it worked really well.”
Two of the changes were central defender Yuki Kobayashi and former J-League Player of the Year Tomoki Iwata who sat in beside O’Riley and skipper Callum McGregor.
O’Riley said of his fellow-midfielder: “First and foremost, he’s a tank. He’s always in the gym doing something upper body-wise as you see with the size of his arms, they are probably bigger than most of our legs, which is impressive as it is.
“But even though he’s such a tank, he’s really composed on the ball, very calm and a really, really nice person.
“Same with Yuki in that regard and I think both of them have settled in really nicely.”
The champions restored their 12-point advantage with just one league game to play before the split.
Motherwell will provide the opposition at Parkhead on Saturday and O’Riley smiled and added: “It’s one game at a time – boring answers, but that’s the reality and I think if we continue with that approach for the rest of the season, we should be in a good place.”