Celtic’s fantastic start to the 2023/24 Scottish Premiership campaign continued at the weekend with a much deserved 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock at Celtic Park, and although manager Brendan Rodgers was rightly pleased with the manner of the victory, he was not alone in believing that margin of the win could well have been greater.
Having established our advantage with 22 minutes on the clock as Reo Hatate opened the scoring, eleven minutes later we had doubled our lead as Luis Palma was next strike just after the half hour mark. The visitors did pull a goal back with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game, but Greg Taylor quickly restored the two goal buffer to mark Rodgers’ 700th game as a manager and send us seven points clear at the top of the table with seven wins and one draw from the opening eight games. For fans who use a Bet 365 bonus code, upcoming odds for future matches will likely be very favourable on Celtic continuing this impressive form and racking up more victories before the turn of the New Year.
Hatate and Palma came in for particular praise from the gaffer following the match as he met with the media.
“Reo Hatate, I thought he was outstanding today and that’s what I want from him. He has to be aggressive in his pressing and his tempo. That activates him with the ball. When he’s doing that then you see the level that he has. Luis Palma was excellent. He showed great quality, scored a very good goal and I think he will get better and better in time.”
BBC Sportscene pundit James McFadden was in argument, particularly given Hatate’s ‘back to his best’ performance. The 40 year old 48 capped former Scottish international striker said of the midfielders performance.
“It was his best performance of the season for me. We’re all used to seeing him pick up the ball and driving. Whether it is getting shots away, picking passes or controlling the tempo of the game. He was absolutely sensational today. He recently signed a new long-term contract, and I’m sure that’ll please everyone connected with Celtic, and he was back to his best again.”
The praise did not stop there though, when selecting his Team of the Week, Jonathan Sutherland, selected three of our players in his final XI in recognition of the over all performance, and ever improving 25 year old defender, Liam Scales, joined Reo Hatate and Luis Palma were listed alongside them.
With the October international break now hitting the domestic fixture calendar, the Celtic squad would have undoubtedly preferred to be back in action far more quickly given the momentum we have built up so far this season, but a bit of rest and then additional time on the training pitches may play into our favour ahead of our return against Heart of Midlothian on October 22, and then of course, three days later we have our home Group E clash with Atletico Madrid to look forward to.
Following on from the disappointment of the narrow Champions League defeat to Lazio, the Kilmarnock showing was the perfect way to bounce back and put that behind us, so if we use this break very wisely indeed, who knows what our next European adventure could have in store, as if the Lazio match showed one thing, it was that we can more than compete when we are properly on it, and there are probably still some fans out there who do not quite know how we did not come away with at least a point, if not the win outright given the over all balance of the game.
Atletico may currently be top of the Group based on goal difference, but one quick victory that brings an end to the woeful record of not having won a Champions League game on home soil for the last decade could turn the Group on its head.
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