Livingston 0-3 Celtic: Champions return to top of Scottish Premiership

Paulo Bernardo strikes to make it 2-0 in West Lothian
Paulo Bernardo strikes to make it 2-0 in West Lothian

Celtic returned to top spot in the Scottish Premiership after a strong second-half showing overpowered stubborn Livingston.

The breakthrough came from a fortuitous Jamie Brandon own goal and home goalkeeper Shamal George was kept busy before Paulo Bernardo crashed in a splendid strike.

Matt O’Riley added a third late on, his tame shot eluding George.

The defending champions lead Rangers by a point again having played a game more, with the Old Firm rivals ready to meet at Ibrox next Sunday.

Bottom club Livingston remain 10 points adrift of Ross County with seven games to go.

“The boys were very good, very professional,” said Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy. “We didn’t give Livingston very much at all in terms of territory or getting into our box, which is always important here.

“And in our attacking play, we stuck at it. In the first half we could have scored. We got into some great areas and maybe the final ball wasn’t there or things got blocked.

“But we showed that calmness, which is important at this time of year.

“It’s easy to get dragged into panic mode and think that you need to go chasing a win, but we stayed with our performance, stayed with doing the same things. We were relentless and eventually it breaks for you. That’s what happened and we came out convincing winners.”

Reo Hatate was making just his fifth league start of the season following a series of injuries and the Japan midfielder curled a strike wide from 20 yards during a drab first half.

Despite having 76% possession, the visitors’ first shot on target only came in stoppage time before the interval, with George at full stretch to push away a sharp effort from Kyogo Furuhashi.

The striker had earlier been the subject of a brief VAR check for a possible penalty when Nicky Devlin appeared to catch his heel with a challenge from behind.

The anxiousness in the three stands containing Celtic fans lifted four minutes into the second half when Hatate found room to test George from close range and the rebound struck Brandon on the chest before trundling over the line.

George then had to look lively to keep out a rising strike from Nicolas Kuhn and made a great diving stop to thwart Kyogo again.

Bernardo replaced the impressive Hatate and wasted no time in making an impression, driving forward to work a one-two with O’Riley before drilling the ball low into the corner of the net from near the edge of the box.

The one-way traffic continued and O’Riley completed the scoring with his 12th goal of the season when George failed to stop a weak shot.

Player of the match – Reo Hatate (Celtic)

On his comeback from injury, the midfielder reminded us how important a player he is for Celtic
On his comeback from injury, the midfielder provided a timely reminder of how important a player he is for Celtic

Hatate catches the eye in Celtic canter – analysis

Substitutes Adam Idah, James Forrest and Daniel Kelly all came close to adding to Celtic’s tally in the closing moments as their goal difference moved to one better than that of Rangers.

Serving a suspension in the stand, manager Brendan Rodgers will have seen his team play better but could be satisfied with the way they remained patient to break down opponents who set up to defend en masse.

Cameron Carter-Vickers lasted the full game after his latest injury setback, although the centre-half had very little to do.

Hatate was much more conspicuous during his 63 minutes of action. His touch, composure and energy have been missed and he could be a key player over the run-in.

Livingston have only scored nine goals at home in 15 league games and at no stage threatened to add to that meagre total.

Yes, Tete Yengi put himself about, but the lone centre-forward did not get a sniff of a chance in the penalty box.

Home manager David Martindale set up with four central defenders and five midfielders grafting hard to subdue Celtic, but the plan went up in smoke the moment the unlucky Brandon knocked the ball into his own net.

What they said

Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy: “The pitch was dry and sticky at times but we stayed calm. That’s part of Livingston’s gameplan [to waste time]. I think the officials could do more to speed things up. It’s about entertainment. But we got the goals and the win and that’s what matters.

“The fans want us to play in a certain manner. You see when we’re in full flow, the atmosphere they bring and the boost that gives the players.”

Livingston manager David Martindale: “It’s been must-win since matchday one. We need points every game. There’s two scenarios here – we’re going to get relegated or we’ve got a possibility of staying up. Either way, my mindset doesn’t change. I’m still going out to win games.”

What’s next?

Livingston host Aberdeen next Saturday (15:00 BST), while on Sunday Celtic make the short trip across Glasgow to take on title rivals Rangers (12:00).



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1George
  • 21Nottingham
  • 5DevlinBooked at 46mins
  • 6Obileye
  • 24Kelly
  • 18HoltSubstituted forAndersonat 73′minutes
  • 12Brandon
  • 8Pittman
  • 10KellySubstituted forGuthrieat 80′minutes
  • 16BradleySubstituted forMackayat 53′minutes
  • 33Yengi


  • 4Carson
  • 9Anderson
  • 11Mackay
  • 20Sangare
  • 23McGovern
  • 28Guthrie
  • 32Hamilton


Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Hart
  • 2Johnston
  • 20Carter-Vickers
  • 5Scales
  • 3Taylor
  • 33O’RileySubstituted forKellyat 87′minutes
  • 24Iwata
  • 41HatateSubstituted forGonçalves Bernardoat 65′minutes
  • 10KühnSubstituted forYangat 71′minutes
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forIdahat 71′minutes
  • 38MaedaSubstituted forForrestat 87′minutes


  • 9Idah
  • 13Yang
  • 17Nawrocki
  • 28Gonçalves Bernardo
  • 29Bain
  • 48Kelly
  • 49Forrest
  • 56Ralston
  • 57Welsh

Don Robertson


Live Text

Source link

About the author

Opera Jobs

Opera Jobs is a one-stop destination for job seekers and employers alike. This innovative job website was created with the goal of connecting talented individuals with exciting employment opportunities in various industries. Opera Jobs boasts a user-friendly interface that allows job seekers to easily search for jobs based on their preferences, skills, and experience. Employers can also post job listings and seamlessly connect with qualified candidates through the platform. With a wide range of job categories and locations available, Opera Jobs is the perfect platform for both job seekers and employers to find their ideal match in the competitive job market.

Leave a Comment