KYOGO FURUHASHI will be featuring largely in Michael Beale’s nightmares as he prepares for the Ibrox club’s season-definining Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday.
Any slender hopes of an extraordinary turnaround in their forlorn pursuit of the Premiership title were blown to smithereens in the 2-0 collapse against Aberdeen at Pittodrie yesterday,
The defeat in the north east has left Ange Postecoglou’s men with the task of knowing one win from their remaining five fixtures after the SPFL split will make certain the flag flies over Celtic Park for the second successive season.
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi fires in Celtic’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox in January.
There is the distinct possibility the Hoops’ final four league games of the campaign could be rendered redundant as far as the actual necessity for picking up points is concerned.
Last term, the Greek-Australian and his players had to wait until the penultimate match to make certain of the crown when they achieved the point they required in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice on May 11 2022.
The newly-crowned champions brought the curtain down in fine style on Flag Day at a sunkissed Parkhead three days later when they romped to a 6-0 triumph over Motherwell.
And the League Cup was claimed for the second year in succession when Kyogo walloped a double behind Allan McGregor in the silverware shoot-out at Hampden in February.
The livewire Japanese hitman, searching for one more goal to become a Half-Century Bhoy, staged an action replay in the league confrontation earlier this month in the hosts’ 3-2 triumph.
Now, after firing blanks in the 1-1 stalemate with Motherwell at the weekend, Kyogo has the Ibrox men in his line of sights.
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi leaves Allan McGregor helpless with the opening goal in the League Cup Final in February.
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi is grounded at the post alongside Borna Barisic after knocking in a pass from Reo Hatate for the second goal.
Former Celtic and Scotland midfielder Kris Commons is convinced the Govan gaffer will be more than a little concerned about attempting to shut out the striker and his Hoops team-mates who have thumped in 11 goals in the previous four derbies this season, resulting in three wins and a draw for Postecoglou’s treble-chasers.
The ex-fans’ favourite said: “Michael Beale will be having nightmares about the threat of Kyogo Furuhashi at Hampden and what his movement can do.
“Can they find a plan to stop him? I do wonder about this Rangers defence. So far this season, they have conceded 11 goals to Celtic over four derbies.
“Beale has made them a better team, no question about that, but they have still struggled to keep their opponents at bay in the three Old Firm matches under his command. Two goals were conceded at Ibrox, two again in the League Cup Final and three at Celtic Park earlier this month.
“The Rangers manager has got to hope his back four can produce a bit more. The return of Connor Goldson would definitely help, but then he was part of the side that lost at Hampden in February, when Furuhashi again made the difference.
“Beale will be crossing his fingers for an absence of costly mistakes and, bluntly, that his players turn up in a much better fashion than they did when the League Cup was up for grabs. There’s a lot of uncertainty there.”
Commons reckons Postecoglou will have identified a weakness in his opponents’ style and will exploit it again at the national stadium.
The one-time playmaker, writing in his Daily Mail column, added: “Rangers try to build from the back. They take some risks. But do they really have the composure?
PICK IT OUT…Kyogo Furuhashi pounces to wallop in the breakthrough goal in the league win at Parkhead earlier this month.
PICK IT OUT…Allan McGregor has that familiar sinking feeling as Kyogo Furuhashi claims his second in the 3-2 triumph at Parkhead.
“You think back to the last derby and the largely unforced mistakes made by John Souttar and Ben Davies for starters. It’s going to be highlighted by Postecoglou in team meetings. Put them under pressure. Get after them.
“Listen, Rangers might well feel the same about Carl Starfelt. Particularly in Europe, we’ve seen that he can have a little bit of careless play in his nature when he comes under pressure.
“The Swede needs to pass it forward quickly and cleanly on Sunday. For Rangers, though, the problems in defence are maybe a bit deeper.
“Davies had a difficult day at Celtic Park and his confidence seems to have taken a knock since. He made a few little errors again at Pittodrie giving the ball away cheaply.”
The bad news for Beale and Co is that Kyogo, despite a couple of close things against Well, is likely to punish any errors and guide Celtic to a Scottish Cup Final crescendo on Saturday June 3 at the same venue.