DAVID TURNBULL reckons he and Reo Hatate can be a winning combination as Celtic leave rivals in their slipstream in their determined pursuit of a second successive title under Ange Postecoglou.
The champions eased nine points ahead following their 2-1 comeback victory over Ross County following their refusal to be sidetracked by what the Scotland international midfielder calls a “crazy” penalty-kick decision to gift the visitors the advantage.
Malky Mackay’s stubborn Highlanders were leading after the hour mark until Hatate and Turnbull conjured up a little bit of something special as they sprinkled star dust on proceedings.
MAGIC MOMENT…David Turnbull tucks away the equaliser against Ross County after some excellent work by Reo Hatate (extreme right).
The Japanese ace, who had worked tirelessly right from the off, carved open the congested County rearguard, skipped away from a couple of challenges, opened up a new angle and delivered a pass right on the money to his partner.
Turnbull remained calm and in control, took a touch and then almost nonchalantly slid the ball beyond the startled and stranded Ross Laidlaw.
Six minutes later, Hatate played a one-two with Sead Haksabanovic, cushioning a return pass into the Montenegro international’s stride, and the former Rubin Kazan winger’s finish was simply sublime as he stroked the ball low into the far corner.
Turnbull had special praise for his middle-of-the-park team-mate and said: “I made a run and I thought Reo was going to slip me in, but he then produced a bit of magic and then he found me.
“His wee shimmy was brilliant, it was great play and it was then up to me to keep my composure and finish it off. It was a great goal to get. I haven’t played a lot alongside Reo, but I thought we linked up well.
“He is a great player and on Saturday he got two assists and he did great. I enjoy playing alongside him.”
JOY BHOYS…Reo Hatate and Sead Haksabanovic celebrate the winner.
With under-pressure Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s struggling Ibrox side shedding two more points in the 1-1 draw with St Mirren earlier in the day, it could prove to be a pivotal weekend in the Premiership.
Turnbull observed: “Are those the types of games that win you titles? You need to dig in sometimes. I thought we were in control until the Ross County penalty incident. After that we worked hard and we did that. We created plenty of chances and it was a great result.
“We showed our character again by coming back from the penalty. I haven’t seen it back, but I thought it was a bit crazy at the time. After that we showed how good we are and we put our own stamp on the game and we did well.”
VAR, almost inevitably, played an unwanted role by taking the headlines when referee David Munro, whose display was puzzling and perplexing in equal measures, awarded the visitors a ludicrous penalty-kick five minutes after the turnaround.
He believed a handball from Matt O’Riley merited the harshest punishment as he unhesitatingly pointed to the spot while his standside assistant, probably with a better view of the incident, kept his flag by his side, as CQN highlighted yesterday.
SPOT OF BOTHER…David Munro (extreme left) is about the award a handball against Matt O’Riley while his assistant keeps his flag down.
Munro’s decision was nonsensically endorsed by Euan Anderson in the technical office and David Cancola stepped up to whipe a low shot into the corner of Joe Hart’s net.
Postecoglou’s men will continue to concentrate on their achievements and Turnbull, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “We don’t look at the table, we go into each game focusing on us and trying to get the three points.
“We don’t focus on anyone else, or their results, it is about what we do.
“We are doing brilliantly right now and now we have to keep it going. The gaffer won’t let us take our foot off the gas. We are going to play every game as if it is our last and try to get as many wins as we can.
“There is plenty of motivation for the boys every week. The league title is a motivation, every game we play we are always ready to go and play our game style. So far it is going well.
“I didn’t know the Rangers result before the game. By the time we got here and got ready, we focused on our own game. I saw it after the game, though.”
PICK IT OUT…David Turnbull is heavily outnumbered, but the ball is in the net to make it 1-1.
Turnbull added: “Will we get better after the World Cup break? I think so. Hopefully, we will have most of the boys back from injury after it.
“The break will do us good and then we want to come back firing on all cylinders. We have 14 wins out of 15 in the league which is great. We had one blip at St Mirren which was tough.
“We knew after that we could have played better, but in the other 14 games we have been brilliant. We know every game is different and you will face challenges. We don’t go into any game thinking it will be easy.
“The St Mirren game wasn’t great, but we knew if we played the way we can then we wouldn’t have many other results like that. Now we have to kick on and try to keep winning.
“We have quality all around the squad and we have competition for places everywhere. Whoever the manager has put in in the last few weeks they have been brilliant and it is about trying to continue that when we come back from the break.”
The champions’ first league outing after the break is scheduled for Pittodrie against Aberdeen on Saturday December 17 and their next game in Paradise will see Livingston providing the opposition four days before Christmas.