ANGE POSTECOGLOU praised the character and the quality of his Celtic players as they clocked up their 14th Premiership win in 15 outings.
The most recent triumph in a sequence that has opened up a nine-point gap at the top of the table came with the 2-1 victory over Ross County at Parkhead yesterday.
Once again, the Hoops stars refused to be derailed by a nonsensical refereeing decision five minutes after the turanround with the confrontation still goalless.
END GAME…Ange Postecoglou and Malky Mackay embrace at the final whistle.
Whistler David Munro, much to the bewilderment of everyone who saw it and the delight of the Highlanders, detected a handball by Matt O’Riley and, without a moment’s hesitation, pointed to the spot. Even more ridiculously, VAR agreed with the match official.
David Cancola rolled the ball into Joe Hart’s left-hand corner of the net as the keeper took off for the opposite side to give the visitors an unlikely advantage.
The champions, though, refused to buckle with fates conspiring against them and stormed back to equalise through David Turnbull following a breathtaking move that saw Reo Hatate drift past a couple of challenges on his left before picking out the Scotland international in the packed penalty box.
The midfielder maintained his composure as he almost nonchalantly placed the ball through the legs of astonished keeper Ross Laidlaw.
SPOT OF BOTHER…the ball is on its way towards Matt O’Riley after a rebound from Callum Johnson.
PAYING THE PENALTY…Cameron Carter-Vickers attempts to have a word with referee David Munro.
SINKING FEELING…Joe Hart sits it out as Ross County players celebrate their penalty-kick goal.
And Sead Haksabanovic conjured up a little bit of magic of his own to work a neat one-two with Hatate before stroking a low shot into the far corner for the points-clincher.
So, apart from the banana skin in Paisley in September, Scotland’s title kings have claimed a 100 per cent record in their quest to lift a second successive Premiership crown.
A beaming Postecoglou said: “I thought the boys were outstanding. It’s been a long stretch of games and for them to perform like that under not the easiest of circumstances, I couldn’t be prouder of them.
“It was a strong performance by a really strong group of players.
“It’s character, it’s quality, they’re good football players and strong characters and for any manager, it’s a pretty good combination.
ALONE WITH HIS THOUGHTS…Ange Postecoglou remains silent on the touchline.
“We created some fantastic opportunities and I thought their keeper was outstanding. It’s not easy, they have a lot of bodies in the box, but we still had the composure and quality.
“We have some really good football players and they showed their qualities and character and I’m pleased for them all.”
Celtic now play two games in the inaugral Sydney Super Cup in the manager’s adopted country of Australia – the local side on Thursday morning and Everton three days later – before getting a breather with the next league match due at Pittodrie against Aberdeen on Saturday December 17.
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I think it will do the boys good to be off and get a week or so because it’s been an enormous shift from them.
MATCHWINNER…Sead Haksabanovic celebrates the second – and points-clinching – strike for the champions to push them nine points clear at the top of the Premiership.
“Credit to them because it’s been Champions League and lots of travelling. Then I’m changing five or six every game and no-one has complained or made an excuse.
“It’s not easy when guys are coming in and out for them to be perfect, so it’s an outstanding effort.
“We’re going to Australia and four of our boys are going to the World Cup and I wish them all the best. They’re representing themselves, their family and their country as well as this club.
“I’m sure they will do really well and the rest of us go to Australia and it’s still games we want to do well in, but obviously without the pressure of combination.”