MATT O’RILEY was not one bit surprised when Kyogo Furuhashi flashed his trademark smile after squandering a penalty-kick against Kilarnock at Rugby Park.
The Japanese striker had opened the scoring in the seventh minute and the champions were already coasting three goals to the good after a header from Daizen Maeda and an elegant strike from O’Riley.
Only 21 minutes were on the clock when referee David Dickinson pointed to the spot after Greg Taylor had been tripped by Christian Doidge.
OOPS…Kyogo Furuhashi passes up the opportunity of becoming a Half-Century Bhoy as he misses from the spot against Kilmarnock.
Filipe Jota, who had scored the two previous penalties against Hibs and Ross County, was not included in Sunday’s squad while Aaron Mooy, with three successful conversions, was on the substitutes’ bench.
So, too, was Oh Hyeon-gyu, who netted from an award against St Mirren, and Reo Hatate, who has also been on target from 12 yards, was not available.
Up stepped Kyogo, looking for his 50th goal since joining the Hoops from Vissel Kobe in July 2021, and, after keeper Sam Walker took off for his left, clattered his effort off the base of the opposite upright and Maeda put the rebound past the post.
There were no tantrums from the pacy raider, no hands on the head. Instead, he offered a big grin in consolation.
O’Riley said: “He’s probably the nicest man I’ve ever met. That guy could miss four open goals in a game and still be smiling, which I find incredible. It shows the kind of guy he is and it’s really nice to have someone like that in your team.
RISE AND SHINE…Kyogo Furuhashi is hoisted high by Matt O’Riley following one of his hat-trick in the 9-0 demolition of Dundee United at Tannadice in August. Filipe Jota is about to join in the celebrations.
“He knows he’s already got… I don’t know how many goals, so I don’t think he’s too fussed about missing one.
“It’s not just on the pitch with what you see, he’s genuinely the nicest man I’ve met. Regardless of whether they miss or score, they’re still going to work hard.
“It doesn’t matter who makes a mistake, someone else is going to be there to rectify it. I think we’ve shown that across the course of the season.
“It showed last week, as well. It wasn’t our most fluid performance [in the Glasgow derby]but we gave everything and that was enough to get us over the line.”
O’Riley, who doubled his goal input for the season four with a couple of expertly-taken strikes against the Ayrshire outfit, was playing in a line-up that kicked off with three of the January recruits – Alistair Johnston and Japanese duo Tomoki Iwata and Yuki Kobayashi – while the fourth, Oh Hyeon-gyu, was introduced at the start of the second-half for Kyogo.
The London-born Danish Under-21 playmaker, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “That just shows the depth of our squad. Yuki and Tomoki have come in from another country and culture and have settled in really quickly.
PICK IT OUT…Matt O’Riley races away after slotting Celtic’s third goal behind the sprawling Killie keeper Sam Walker at Rugby Park.
“And it helps that they are both genuinely very nice people, as well, so they’ve settled into our culture very easily. They are both really making an effort to speak English with us which definitely helps.
“On the pitch, you can see they are enjoying themselves. Yuki probably hasn’t played as much as he wants to, but when he’s been asked he’s performed really well.
“We have got a lot of different nationalities in that team, with a nice blend of Japanese and pure Scottish guys who keep it, well, Scottish.
“It’s quite unique. It’s a nice balance. There are no hard feelings if someone plays over you. We’re still all going to chat and be friends.
“I don’t really find it challenging in that sense because they are all so nice. I don’t think that hinders us. It’s probably a benefit. Competition, in my opinion, always helps you play better.”