MIKEY JOHNSTON fired a timely reminder to Brendan Rodgers with his double salvo in the 3-0 Boxing Day triumph over Dundee at Dens Park.
The champions were dominating the Tayside encounter following Paulo Bernardo’s first strike for the club shortly after the turnaround, but there was always the possibility of the hosts pinching a dreaded equaliser in a breakaway against the run of play.
The Hoops were on the title tightrope once again until Johnston, a 79th-minute substitute for the impressive Luis Palma, provided the comfort blanket with a whiplash low right-foot drive that flummoxed the diving Trevor Carson.
THREE CHEERS…Mikey Johnston celebrates his first goal against Dundee with Alistair Johnston and Matt O’Riley about to join in.
That strike arrived only four minutes after the Republic of Ireland’s introduction to the action and, incredibly, it was the 24-year-old wide Bhoy’s first goal for the Hoops in just over four years.
Johnston enjoyed the exhilarating experience so much that he followed up with a second eight minutes later to pilot Rodgers’ side to a victory which restored their five-point advntage at the Premiership pinnacle.
The comeback ace hopes he has done enough to be included in the Irishman’s thoughts for the second derby of the campaign at Parkhead on Saturday and the first game of 2024 in Paisley against St Mirren on Tuesday before the three-week winter break.
Johnston said: “I’m delighted because the boys have all left their families for Christmas and to get the win is amazing – and to score a couple of goals is even better.
“We were cruising at 1-0, but you never know what can happen as a team can get a goal and sneak it so we had to put the game away.
“Going forward, it’s a massive three points, but we won’t take anything for granted.”
YIPPEE…Mikey Johnston displays his delight after his first goal for Celtic in four years.
On a personal note, Johnston, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “When you’re chasing a goal, sometimes it can be harder for the first one to go in. Once the first one goes in, they can keep coming after that.
“I came off the back of an injury at the start of the year, so it was like a pre-season in those first few games. It’s just not happened in some games and, in some, I’ve played well.
“The goal or assist just hasn’t come and that final action is something I need to improve on to get my stats up for the team.
“What I’m striving for is more goals and assists and the more I can help the team the better.”