MATT O’RILEY was hailed as “a fantastic young player” by delighted Ange Postecoglou after the 3-2 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie last night.
And the Celtic manager believes the 21-year-old playmaker, a £1.5million buy from MK Dons last month, will benefit from the experience of a topsy-turvy confrontation against Stephen Glass’ battling team.
O’Riley netted his first strike for the Hoops to double the visitors’ advantage in the first-half after he had set up the opener for Filipe Jota, who is making a happy habit of scoring against the Dons with two goals in his previous two games.
However, the home side came out with a verve and gusto after the break and made it 2-2 before the on-loan Benfica winger made certain of the victory with a third goal.
Reflecting on O’Riley’s overall performance, Postecoglou said: “I thought he was really good in the first-half. The ball he whipped in for the first goal was a super ball and he’ll learn from this occasion.
“In the second-half, I thought we just needed to be a bit calmer in our possession and a bit more controlled in our game, but it’s not easy and he’ll also learn from that.
“But he’s a fantastic young player and one we know has a lot of improvement in him.”
Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It’s great to win. It’s a difficult game, a difficult place to come and in the context of our season it’s an important three points.
“But as I’ve kept saying, we’re a team that is beginning to build a strong foundation. However, we’ve still got a way to go yet, we still need to improve and nights like this one are good for guys like Matty, Reo and Daizen to experience that kind of atmosphere away from home.
“It’ll stand them in good stead for understanding the battle you have to go through here every week in the Premiership.”
Next up are Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup last-16 encounter at Parkhead on Sunday with a 4pm kick-off.
It’s another challenge for Postecoglou and his new Bhoys who have already claimed the first domestic honour in the Premier Sports League Cup with the 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden in December.
Remarkably, former skipper Scott Brown, who left the Hoops in the summer, was only on first-name terms with three of last night’s starting line-up – Callum McGregor, Greg Taylor and Anthony Ralston.
That fact alone emphasises the change the Greek-Australia is overseeing in an extraordinary first campaign as Neil Lennon’s successor.