CELTIC kicked off 2022 with a 2-0 win over Hibs at Parkhead on January 17.
The Hoops brought down the curtain on an eventful and memorable year with another victory over the Edinburgh club, this time 4-0 at Easter Road last night.
Daizen Maeda made his debut in the first game and opened the scoring in the fourth minute before Josip Juranovic tucked away a 25th-minute penalty-kick to make certain the new year got off to a winning start.
EYES ON THE BALL…Croatia World Cup star Josip Juranovic warms up as a substitute at Easter Road.
The Croatian World Cup hero was the only player missing from the Celtic rearguard in both encounters.
Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Greg Taylor started both matches. Juranovic, who was on the substitutes’ bench following his recent return from Qatar, watched as Reo Hatate again stepped into the No.2 slot for the second successive game.
In fact, the J-League recruit 12 months ago was one of four others who started each game. Captain Callum McGregor, Liel Abada and Maeda were involved in the starting line-ups in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The Japanese World Cup forward also netted last night – a marvellous run and strike after Aaron Mooy had claimed his first goal for the club with a stunning first-time effort on the drop.
NUMBER ONE…Celtic head Bhoy Aaron Mooy is congratulated by Matt O’Riley after his first goal for the club.
NUMBER TWO…Daizen Maeda is swamped by team-mates after his brilliant goal to double the advantage.
The midfielder collected another with a second-half penalty-kick and Kyogo Furuhashi, injured in January, slipped the fourth behind David Marshall as the champions switched on the afterburners.
Back at the turn of the year, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Filip Jota featured as second-half substitutes – just like last night.
James Forrest played in the first match and was introduced in the 62nd minute in Edinburgh as a replacement for Abada.
Only one player has permanently left the club over the period – Tom Rogic who ended his nine and a half year association with the Hoops at the end of last season. After four months of self-imposed exile, the stylish midfielder joined Championship outfit West Brom in September.
Ironically, his place in the midfield has been taken by fellow-Aussie Mooy.
Yosuke Ideguchi made his first appearance in Glasgow when he was introduced as a 74th-minute replacement for his countryman Hatate who had just joined the future champions along with Maeda on Hogmanay.
NUMBER THREE…Aaron Mooy makes no mistake from the penalty spot.
NUMBER FOUR…Kyogo Furuhashi looks heavenwards after a superb goal. Paul Hanlon doesn’t share the joy.
Mikey Johnston, a second-half sub for Abada, is about to enter the second phase of his loan deal with Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaeres.
Three players figured in the capital, but were nowhere to be seen at Parkhead. One was Matt O’Riley who joined the Hoops five days after the January win in a £1.5million switch from English third-tier side MK Dons.
He was replaced last night by 17-year-old Rocco Vata, son of ex-Celt Rudi, seven minutes from time while Alexandro Bernabei, the Argentinian defender bought for £3.75million from top-flight Lanus in the summer, came on for Taylor in the 67th minute.
It’s been a monumental 12-month journey, but it is clear Ange Postecoglou’s masterplan for Celtic is working.
The teams in the games were:
CELTIC 2 HIBS 0 JANUARY 17
Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; McGregor, Hatate (sub: Ideguchi 74), Rogic; Abada (sub: Johnston 74), Maeda (sub: Giakoumakis 74), Forrest (sub: Jota 82).
HIBS 0 CELTIC 4 DECEMBER 28
Hart; Hatate, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor (sub: Bernabei 67); Mooy, McGregor, O’Riley (sub: Vata 83); Abada (sub: Forrest 62), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 67), Maeda (sub: Jota 83).