HIBS 0 CELTIC 4
AARON MOOY scored his first goal for Celtic – and his first in Scottish football in ELEVEN years – as the champions romped to victory over Hibs at Easter Road tonight.
The Aussie midfielder enjoyed the experience so much he repeated the feat in the second-half with an impeccable finish from the penalty spot.
Daizen Maeda scored the second goal of the evening only SIXTY-THREE SECONDS after a glaring miss to propel the Hoops towards their twelfth successive league triumph as they brought down the curtain on a memorable 2022 in fine style.
Kyogo Furuhashi had the final say with an exquisite fourth goal in the 64th minute following some slick footwork and a nonchalant finish.
JOY BHOYS…Daizen Maeda is congratulated by his delighted team-mates after his stunning strike for the second goal at Easter Road. First goalscorer Aaron Mooy joins in.
Ange Postecoglou’s side had to overcome the stormy, wet conditions in the capital as well as a whirlwind start from the hosts to maintain their nine-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.
Hibs came out the blocks on full throttle as they forced three corner-kicks in the first four minutes, but, thankfully, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt were in defiant mood.
They also had the ball in the net in the third minute when Chris Cadden tucked one under Joe Hart from close range, but the attacking defender was clearly offside and there was no argument from the home players.
The Hoops’ first threat came in the fifth minute when Reo Hatate swept in an inviting right-wing cross and Maeda dived full length to get his head to it, but his effort from 10 yards whipped past David Marshall’s right-hand post much to the relief of the former Hoops No.1.
Maeda then set up Kyogo with a neat ball in from the left and the Japanese striker attempted a cure back-flick, but his attempt lacked power and the keeper saved comfortably at his post.
Two minutes later, though, he was left helpless when Mooy fired the champions into the lead with a ferocious first-time drive from 10 yards.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Matt O’Riley congratulates Aaron Mooy on his first goal for the Hoops – and his first in Scottish football in 11 years.
Maeda was involved again with a run on the left to receive a pass from Starfelt before lashing over a cross. It took a touch off a defender and spun into the air.
Australian World Cup midfielder Mooy was perfectly placed to thunder a shot past Marshall for his first goal in Scotland since he scored for St Mirren against Rangers in 2011.
In the 34th minute, Maeda had an astonishing miss from four yards after Liel Abada’s right-wing cross had been touched by the grasping Marshall as it dropped at the far upright.
The pacy winger threw himself at the ball, but remarkably he managed to head an effort against the face of the bar and the ricochet fell kindly into the arms of the grateful Hibs netminder.
Sixty-three seconds later, Maeda doubled Celtic’s advantage. And what a way to atone for his error with a magnificent run and strike from outside the box.
FOR MY NEXT TRICK…Kyogo Furuhashi flicks a shot past Hibs defender Rocky Balshiri, but keeper David Marshall is in line to make a good save.
Starfelt fed the ball out to the frontman who took advantage of a slip from Cadden to race into enemy territory. Greg Taylor took a defender with him in a superb dummy run to open up space for his team-mate to cut into with Hibs looking vulnerable.
Maeda took aim and then sizzled an unstoppable 20-yarder towards goal with the ball hurtling away from Marshall at his left.
The only moment of anxiety for the Hoops in the opening half came when some slackness allowed a shot from Paul Hanlon to bounce off the post before Hart snapped up the rebound.
In the 58th minute, the game was all over as a contest when referee Alan Muir couldn’t ignore a handball from Lewis Stevenson after a cross from Maeda had deflected into the air off Abada.
Mooy accepted the responsibility and tucked away a superb spot-kick with Marshall taking off for his left with the ball going right.
SPOT ON…Aaron Mooy makes no mistake from the penalty spot to make it 3-0 for Celtic.
Postecoglou then removed Abada to introduce James Forrest in the 62nd minute and a couple of minutes later Celtic were celebrating a quite excellent fourth goal.
Reo Hatate picked out his countryman Kyogo with a magnificent sweeping through pass and the lively little raider cut inside onto his left with defender Balshiri completely wrong-footed.
He then rolled the ball away from the exposed Marshall with the greatest of ease.
With an eye on the clash at Ibrox on Monday, the Hoops boss withdrew the marksman and threw on Giorgos Giakoumakis at the same time Alexandro Bernabei came on for the limping Taylor.
REIGNING IN THE RAIN…a delighted Ange Postecoglou at the conclusion of Celtic’s twelfth successive league win at Easter Road.
In the 80th minute, O’Riley was denied his first goal of the season when Marshall pulled off a breathtaking reflex save to claw a shot off the line after the midfielder had been set up by Giakoumakis.
Postecoglou took the opportunity to hand a debut to 17-year-old Rocco Vata, son of ex-Celt Rudi, as he came on for O’Riley in the 83rd minute.
Filipe Jota also got a run-out with seven minutes remaining as he came on for Maeda.
It was a fitting end to 2022 in the capital for the champions and now we go again in the derby on Monday.
Bring it on!
TEAM: Hart; Hatate, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor (sub: Bernabei 67); Mooy, McGregor, O’Riley (sub: Vata 83); Abada (sub: Forrest 62), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 67), Maeda (sub: Jota 83).