KYOGO FURUHASHI’S double strike in the derby triumph propelled the Celtic hitman to within two goals of the Hoops half-century.
The Japanese ace, a bargain £4.6million recruit from J-League outfit Vissel Kobe in July 2021, has fired in 48 goals in 74 appearances.
Kyogo is now eyeing Kilmarnock in Sunday’s High Noon showdown at Rugby Park in his attempt to join the 10 quickest Parkhead marksmen to reach the milestone.
Lisbon Lion Willie Wallace, bought by Jock Stein from Hearts for £30,000 in December 1966, managed the feat in 79 outings after scoring his first for the club in a 6-2 win over Partick Thistle at Parkhead shortly after his arrival.
SIGNS ARE GOOD…Kyogo Furuhashi is congratulated by Greg Taylor after striking the opening goal in the 2-1 triumph in the Viaplay League Cup Final against Ibrox opposition in February.
The sprightly 82-year-old ex-Scotland international, who now lives in Australia, is a fan of Kyogo and believes his signing was a masterstroke by boss Ange Postecoglou.
Wallace said: “When I first saw Kyogo, I thought he would be a Jinky-type forward.
“He’s small, quick, full of skill and he can finish, too. He’s been outstanding for Ange and Celtic.
“Kyogo hasn’t taken long to get close to that 50 mark and he deserves to join all the great players in doing that.
“Bert Herdman, my old Raith Rovers manager, used to have a saying about strikers like Kyogo. He would say: ‘He’s only got one trick – and that’s scoring goals!’.
“You just look at Kyogo at the weekend – he got three chances and he put them all away.
“The first one was offside, but he came back for more and his two goals were deadly.
NET PROFIT…Kyogo Furuhashi ends up in the rigging after opening the scoring in the 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in August. The Hoops ace will be aiming to stage an action replay on Sunday.
“Kyogo’s movement is excellent around the box. He finished off the cutback really well for the first and then he was sharp for the second. That shows he is an all-round striker.
“He can score different types of goals, but he’s also a team player. He works so hard for Celtic in attack and that’s a big reason for the way they can dominate teams.”
Kyogo hammered in 20 goals in his debut campaign which was an astonishing achievement when you consider FOUR months of his campaign were wiped out through injury.
He netted the double that won the League Cup in the rousing 2-1 comeback triumph over Hibs at Hampden on December 19 2021.
But he was sidelined through hamstring trouble and his next strike came in the 2-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall on April 24. He had made his first-team return as a substitute a fortnight earlier in the 7-0 romp against St Johnstone in the east end of Glasgow.
Wallace, speaking to the Scottish Sun, continued: “He’s not the biggest and he has to take a lot of rough tackles and fouls, but you never see him complaining — he just gets on with it.
HAMPDEN HERO…Willie Wallace wallops his second goal past helpless Aberdeen keeper Bobby Clark in Celtic’s 2-0 Scottish Cup Final triumph in the unforgettable 1966/67 season.
“I watch him play and I don’t see any fear. He is just determined to keep scoring goals.
“Teams have tried different ways to stop him, but he’s a really clever striker and is also the man for the big occasion.
“Kyogo has five goals in his last three games against Rangers and they have all been important ones.
“When you have big players like that who can produce in the biggest games, it’s massive for any team.”
Wallace, who claimed a historic double in Jock Stein’s team’s 3-1 win over Dukla Prague in the European Cup semi-final at Parkhead on their way to Lisbon immortality, added: “I used to play a bit deeper at Hearts before I signed for Celtic and regularly wore No 8.
“When I moved clubs, I just stuck with that number and wore it in the Final in Lisbon.
“I was playing in one of the old inside-forward positions and that was No 8 back then, but I suppose it isn’t really associated with strikers.
“Celtic have had some really good players wear that No 8 strip down the years. I think of guys such as Paul McStay and Scott Brown, two big figures in the club’s history.
“Now Kyogo has that No 8 shirt and while I don’t know the reason behind that, I am happy to see him doing it proud.”