ᑕ❶ᑐ Celtic: Liel Abada plays as Postecoglou faces Groundhog Day
It would be wrong to say that Liel Abada is not sung at Celtic Park, but when the Hymns of Praise begin it is normally fellow strikers Kyogo Furuhashi and Jota who are serenaded.
Abada is 21 and how his team needed his contribution against Livingston on Wednesday. A night that looked like a walk on the cake turned a little rough, a game that saw Celtic accelerate into a 2-0 lead with the promise of more turned into a frustrating affair.
Celtic have rarely looked in danger of dropping points but, similarly, they have never approached their best.
Credit Livingston for that. Your organization, your commitment, your conviction kept them in the hunt. They just refused to be crushed. David Martindale is a sharp cookie. His teams don’t tend to swoon in big stadiums and against more glamorous opponents.
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It was not a repeat of Aberdeen on Saturday. Livingston had a lot more about them as a team. They scored, asked a few questions, denied the Celtic any comfort in their game. Everything was quite hectic, a bit ugly.
The force created behind both of Celtic’s goals was Abada, a cross turned into his own net by Ayo Obileye and another swept away by Kyogo. These were the decisive moments. That’s five assists decided this season and seven goals in the league, which is in addition to 15 goals and 11 assists last season.
It’s quite a journey for a young player in a demanding club in an unknown country.
He had a but excluding by VAR, which was fair and unfair at the same time. He was offside but his contribution deserved a goal. Later he had a shot through the face of Livingston’s net. He was Celtic’s most important player the night their nine-point lead at the top was restored.
On several occasions this season and last it was Abada who opened the doors for Celtic, scoring a 90th minute goal against Dundee United which made it 3-2 which quickly became 4-2, scoring the first two in a win over Motherwell, scoring the stalemate breaker in the 4-0 win over Rangers.
‘Postecoglou saw groundhog day’
This is the strength of the Ange Postecoglou team. There is almost always someone to do the job on tough days.
At 2-0, it didn’t look like one of those sticky games, but it was. Celtic, of course, had masses of possession and mountains of attempts on goal.
They also had a valiant opponent who gained confidence. We think Celtic are a well-functioning side but, in reality, they have reported more wins through character than they do to obliterate their opponents through quality.
You wonder what Postecoglou thinks of all this. Most weeks, his team is asked to break up cautious teams. It comes with the territory of having most of the best players in the country and vast wealth compared to almost everyone else. But sometimes it must feel like it’s Groundhog Day.
Over the weekend, they had 33 shots on the Aberdeen goal and 81% possession. They won it at the end of the day. In their previous match, they shot 22 on the Ross County goal and 75% and again won by a single goal. Again last night they enjoyed a huge number of possessions and shots and there was only one in the end.
The winter months can have a grinding feel to them. No matter the class, just count the points. Celtic are on a long winning streak and they look like a side that have almost forgotten how to lose league games.
Only St Mirren managed to crack the code, with 20% and four shots to Celtic’s 19. It had a weird nature.
Things like that don’t happen very often. Celtic, even when playing under themselves, get the job done. Rangers continue to pray for signs of weakness and dropped points, but there are no signs.
It wasn’t pretty and the memory will be gone by the time someone pulls into the parking lot, but none of that matters.
Three dots, three dots, three dots. It’s the happy rhythm of the Postecoglou team as they string together two games in a row.
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