Kyogo double moves Celtic six points clear of Rangers

Kyogo Furuhashi struck his first double of the season as Celtic’s 3-0 victory over Hearts maintained the prospect of a title party against Rangers.

The Japanese attacker was on target twice in the first half and Matt O’Riley converted a late penalty as the Scottish Premiership leaders moved six points and eight goals ahead of Rangers, who host Kilmarnock on Sunday before facing Celtic on May 11, live on Sky Sports.

Anything less than a Rangers win tomorrow would give Celtic the chance to clinch a third consecutive title when they host their city rivals next Saturday.

Even if Rangers beat Kilmarnock, a derby win for Brendan Rodgers’ side would leave them on the verge of championship success and they warmed up for the biggest game of the season with an impressive display at a noisy Celtic Park.

How Celtic moved closer to the title

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 04: Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates as he scores to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership match between Celtic and Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park, on May 04, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Hearts had won the previous two meetings between the teams but Celtic were at full strength for the first time this season after Daizen Maeda recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place on the bench.

The visitors gave as good as they got in the opening stages and came close to a first-minute lead. Lawrence Shankland looked certain to score after Dexter Lembikisa’s cutback but Cameron Carter-Vickers threw himself in the way of the striker’s effort to divert the ball behind for a corner.

The home side were ahead in the fourth minute after Zander Clark punched Matt O’Riley’s corner out to the edge of the box. Reo Hatate lobbed the ball back into the goalmouth for Furuhashi to nod home. Although Shankland had retreated to the line, there was a close VAR check for offside as Clark was initially ahead of the Celtic striker as Hatate collected the ball.

Kyogo Furuhashi after scoring Celtic's opener
Furuhashi after scoring Celtic’s opener

Hearts soon threatened again when Joe Hart produced a brilliant one-handed stop from Cammy Devlin’s volley and Carter-Vickers headed just over as the end-to-end action continued.

But Celtic doubled their lead in the 21st minute after O’Riley lofted a ball over the top of the visiting defence. Furuhashi cushioned a volley with his weaker right foot into the bottom corner of the net.

Celtic finished the half strongly and Clark made saves from Greg Taylor, O’Riley and Furuhashi, each of them better than the previous one.

The league leaders continued where they left off after the break and Clark made a double stop from Hatate and O’Riley before James Forrest twice came close.

 Kyogo Furuhashi volleys in Celtic's second against Hearts
Furuhashi volleys in Celtic’s second against Hearts

The noise of the home fans increased as Celtic looked to boost their goal difference and sliding tackles from Callum McGregor and Furuhashi as they tracked back sparked ovations not far off what had greeted the goals.

Hearts had one second-half chance but Hart stood up to make a last-ditch stop from Yutaro Oda after the Japanese attacker had played a one-two with fellow substitute Scott Fraser.

O’Riley slammed an 87th-minute penalty into the top corner after Shankland was penalised for handball and referee Kevin Clancy had been called to his monitor, before substitute Maeda was denied by Clark from close range.

Rodgers: We can have a bit of fun against Rangers

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Brendan Rodgers was delighted with his side’s performance in their 3-0 win over Hearts and says the home crowd’s energy spurred them on to victory. He also says the atmosphere will be similar when they face Rangers next week.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said:

“It’s felt it’s getting back to what I want it to be. A bit of the norm. I said before the first six months were a challenge for everyone and everything. But now you start to see a bit more of what a Celtic team of mine should look like.

“And still with a lot of work to do to get it to that point. But it’s certainly heading in the right direction.

“Eighty per cent of it now is mental. Physically they are in a really good place. This stage it’s all about mentality. You can see mentally we are in a really good place.

“Take nothing for granted, keep our composure, we have a lot of work to do in the week, get our plan ready and then next Saturday we can have a bit of fun.”

Naismith: We didn’t take our chances

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Steven Naismith says Celtic are ‘used to the environment’ as Hearts lost 3-0 in Glasgow, and he is also confident of building upon a successful season going into the next campaign.

Hearts manager Steven Naismith said:

“We started off really well and it was two teams who were comfortable enough on the ball. The difference probably was that we didn’t take our chances and they did. In games, goals change the dynamic.

“We concede the first, which was a poor, poor goal from us as we’ve got the best defensive record from set-plays, so quickly in the game.

“I then thought we got a hold of the ball and created some chances. You can come to Celtic Park and not create any chances but we had some really good chances. They don’t go in, either through a good save or us not doing well enough.

“The second goal we give the ball away too cheaply, we’ve not got a good structure and it’s a simple goal for Celtic. When you’re going to do that it makes it an uphill challenge.”

What’s next?

With three games to go this season, Celtic are at home to Rangers in a huge Old Firm clash next Sunday and then visit Kilmarnock on May 15 in two games that could seal the Scottish Premiership title – both live on Sky Sports – before ending their season at St Mirren on May 18.

Hearts are at home to Dundee next Saturday and then visit St Mirren on May 15, before ending their campaign at home to Rangers on May 18 at Tynecastle Park.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top