REO HATATE is pushing himself to new levels as he strives to be the absolute best he can be.

That’s the verdict of delighted Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou after the Japanese midfielder thumped in a double in the 4-0 victory over Aberdeen at Parkhead.

It was Hatate’s second duo in the space of a week following his strikes in the 5-1 Scottish Cup win over St Mirren at the same venue to set up a quarter-final encounter against Hearts at Tynecastle next month.

THIS WAY…Reo Hatate jinks to his left as he confronts the Aberdeen defence only a fleeting moment before his first goal at Parkhead.

AND THAT…Reo Hatate switches to his right and the ball’s a blur as it heads for the Dons net.

Callum McGregor got the ball rolling against the Dons with a brilliant strike inside two minutes and Liel Abada walloped in No.4 in the fading moments as the champions maintained their nine-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle.

Postecoglou was more than satisfied with the performance of the team and singled out Man of the Match Hatate for special mention as he reflected on another job well done.

The Hoops gaffer said: “Everybody knows he’s a good footballer – he’s proven that – but like all the rest we want him to be better.

“He wants to be better and certainly, at the moment, he’s just pushing himself to new levels.

“He’s a very determined young man, he’s so focused on being the best footballer he can be. We see that every day and he gets the rewards for it.”

Looking at the overall display, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “I thought the first-half was outstanding and I thought our football was really exciting – good quality, working hard but really exciting as well.

“We scored a couple of goals and could have had a couple more quite easily.

WALLOP…Reo Hatate thumps his second goal and Celtic’s third behind Dons keeper Jay Gorter.

“The second-half was a bit of a grind for the first 15 or 20 minutes, but then we finished strong again and the guys coming on made a big impact, so I was pleased.

“We had a chat about making sure we had a strong start. I thought it was going to be important because Aberdeen are going through a bit of a transitional stage.

“They’ve got some players there who haven’t experienced playing against us and I thought if we start really strong we could put them on the back foot. The skipper set us off and we didn’t look back after that.”

Once again, the Greek-Australian utilised all five substitutes and the benefit was encapsulated in one moment near the end when Sead Haksabanovic fought tigerishly for possession on the left wing before firing a cross into the box.

Abada, who had come on for Daizen Maeda in the 63rd minute, made a superb connection to drive in the fourth and final goal.

HAIL, HAIL…Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou braves the elements as he applauds the Hoops supporters at the end of the 4-0 victory.

Postecoglou commented: “We’ve been strong for a long time and that’s the key to it, that even if we do have a bit of flat spot, there’s people coming on who raise the levels again.

“They all want to play their part and they all want to contribute and, as I said, a contribution in the last 10 minutes is just as important as the first 80.

“That’s the way they’ve embraced it and I’m sure the ones who aren’t starting want to play, but they also see an opportunity to play because there are guys who aren’t even getting any minutes at the moment who deserve to get some minutes.

“But if we want to be the team we want to be and attack on all fronts in terms of the competitions, we need a strong squad and that’s what we’ve got.”

Postecoglou now wants to concentrate on the Viaplay showpiece showdown against Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit at Hampden a week today and embrace the countdown.

The team chief added: “That’s why you want to be in Cup Finals. It’s not just another week and it’s not just another normal build-up.

“That’s the beauty of it, that’s why you work so hard to get to these big games and it’s a game of massive consequence in terms of there’s a trophy on the line.

“We’ll enjoy the week, but it won’t deter us from knowing what’s important and that is we prepare ourselves as we always do to be the best we can be on the day.”


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