ANGE POSTECOGLOU reckoned his Celtic team made some “poor choices in the final third” as they tried to dominate Kilmarnock at Parkhead.
However, the Hoops boss praised his players for their resolute and relentless pursuit of the 2-0 win that would push their advantage to 12 points.
Filipe Jota hit the barrier-breaking goal on the stroke of half-time and Killie defender Ash Taylor, under pressure from Kyogo Furuhashi, deflected in a right-wing cross from Reo Hatate for the second six minutes after the turnaround.
ON THE CREST OF A WAVE…Ange Postecoglou watches Celtic win the first game of 2023 at Parkhead.
Remarkably, the champions knocked on wood FOUR times in the second-half as they threatened to pulverise the team they thrashed 5-0 at Rugby Park in August.
Giorgos Giakoumas rattled the crossbar with a header and a 25-yard piledriver, James Forrest thumped one off keeper Sam Walker’s right-hand post and, only moments later, Matt O’Riley had a shot diverted onto the other upright.
Perfectionist Postecoglou said: “We couldn’t really get any rhythm in the game.
“We had a lot of the ball, but there was a lot of stop-starting and we made some poor choices in the final third. However, the pleasing thing was that we stayed disciplined and got a good goal just before half-time.
“In the second-half, I thought we were really good. We took the game to them and scored a nice goal.
THAT’S MY JAPANESE BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate celebrate the second goal against Kilmarnock.
“It’s fair to say that we should have had three or four more, but I thought our football was much better.
“Every opponent comes with a plan and you’ve got to respect that. They made things difficult, but I thought we made things difficult for ourselves for a lot of it, just by making some poor choices.
“However, they stuck to their task, but, as I said, I thought in the second-half we took control of the game and it was a good performance.”
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “Everything we do is underpinned by hard work, so that’s the challenge for opponents as well.
“We work hard and we’re a fit team. Apart from our quality, we’re also a hard-working, fit team and you see that.
SEE YOU ON SATURDAY…Ange Postecoglou and Derek McInnes will face each other again at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final.
“With Daizen, it doesn’t matter how many times he goes down the line, and whether it’s successful or not, you know he’s going to go again and again. I thought all the boys in the second-half put in a solid shift.”
The holders now take on Derek McInnes’ men in the League Cup semi-final on Saturday evening and the Hoops gaffer added: “It’s always a great occasion going to Hampden.
“I know it’s the same opponent, but I think within the context of the competition there will still be a big build-up for it and we’re looking forward to it.
“Hopefully, it’s another special day for us and a chance to get to a Cup Final.”