KYOGO FURUHASHI has become the scourge of Celtic’s derby foes since the turn of the year.

The prolific Japanese hitman had fired blanks in the matches against the Ibrox side in his first season at Parkhead following his £4.6million arrival from Vissel Kobe in July 2021.

Kyogo’s contribution to the opening confrontation against the Govan club in September lasted a mere four minutes before he had to withdraw with a shoulder injury following a shuddering challenge from John Lundstram.

GOAL-DEN MOMENT…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates with Greg Taylor after netting the opener in the 2-1 League Cup Final success in February.

He watched from the sidelines as Giorgos Giakoumakis took his place and Liel Abada (2), Filipe Jota and David Turnbull netted the goals in the 4-0 romp.

Kyogo, though, took centre stage in the January 2 fixture when he clipped in the late equaliser in the 2-2 draw in Govan and he was the star attraction again the following month when he fired a double behind Allan McGregor as the holders reclaimed the League Cup with a 2-1 triumph.

And it was the pacy attacker who was on target again earlier this month with another pair in the 3-2 victory that saw the champions stretch their lead at the Premiership pinnacle to 12 points.

Kyogo, who has notched 29 strikes this term, could now equal a long-standing Hoops scoring record when he lines up against Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit in the Scottish Cup semi-fnal at Hampden tomorrow afternoon.

John Collins scored in four successive games against the city rivals almost three decades ago and the current fans’ favourite is on course to equal the achievement of the cultured Scotland international midfielder.

HAMPDEN HITMAN…Kyogo Furuhashi prepares to tuck the breakthrough goal past keeper Allan McGregor as Borna Barisic looks on helplessly. Filipe Jota prepares to join the celebrations.

No-one can guarantee goals, but Ange Postecoglou is certain his forward will again produce a totally selfless performance to help the team.

The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “What you’ve done previously has very little relevance to what happens on Sunday.

“What’s important is that we go out there and play our football and that’s what Kyogo has done whether he was scoring goals or not.

“People were saying before that he’d gone so many games without scoring, so it doesn’t really change anything. That’s what we’ve tried to focus on.

“He works his socks off for the team, he constantly puts himself into areas where he can be a threat to the opposition and he’ll do that at the weekend. Whether that manifests itself in goals for himself or us being able to score because of his work, I’ve got no doubt he’ll get to those levels.

“If the goals come then great, but I’ve got no doubts as to what he’s going to do in terms of his performance. That’s as he’s done always. Putting in one that’s going to help his team.”

HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another goal against the Ibrox side as Alfredo Morelos realises it might not be his day. 

Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “We understand that perfection doesn’t exist. You can’t win every game of football.

“For us to have been on a very good run for such a long time, how you react to wins is just as important as how you react to a draw like last week.

“Complacency sets in when you just take it for granted. The boys are really good at not taking it for granted and learning and trying to improve.

“Last week is no different. We’ll go into this game with the full knowledge of knowing that again, if we play to the levels we can, we know we are hard to stop.

“That’s always going to be the key for us.”

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