Celtic maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table with a 2-1 victory away to Motherwell on Wednesday evening, ensuring a third win of the season for Ange Postecoglou’s side against the Steelmen.
The away side had taken the lead through Kyogo Furuhashi after just 15 minutes following good work from the ever-impressive Matt O’Riley, with the playmaker shrugging off his recent Denmark snub to tee up his Japanese teammate after superbly winning the ball back inside the area.
The Old Firm outfit had looked to have extended that lead after the break following a sublime finish from talisman Jota, only for the goal to subsequently be ruled out for offside despite images appearing to show that the Portuguese starlet was in fact in an onside position.
The Scottish champions have no doubt been on the receiving end of some questionable VAR decisions of late – including the harsh handball call against Alexandro Bernabei last weekend – and there was further controversy to come late on, with Josh Morris somehow escaping a red card despite a reckless lunge on the returning Carl Starfelt.
Those decisions ultimately had no bearing on proceedings as Daizen Maeda then sealed the points just minutes later with a brilliant sliding finish, albeit with Steven Hammell’s side ensuring something of a nervy climax after hitting back soon after through Ross Tierney.
While much of the talk post-match will once again be centred around the potentially questionable officiating, there may well be frustration at the performance of a few of Postecoglou’s key individuals amid what was a below-par display from the Parkhead giants, with Liel Abada notably underwhelming from his wide berth.
The 21-year-old had potentially warranted a start after netting off the bench late on in the recent win over Dundee United, although it had been something of a bold call to bring the Israel international back into the side in place of Sead Haksabanovic, with the latter man having scored twice last Saturday.
The former Maccabi Petah Tikva man failed to take his chance on the right flank having notably made just 34 touches in his 60-minute outing before being hooked in favour of that man Haksabanovic, with that limited involvement seeing him make fewer touches than teammate Joe Hart (48).
Abada was also wasteful when he did have possession, having lost the ball on 12 occasions and enjoying a pass accuracy rate of just 73%. He also recorded just one dribble after offering little in an attacking sense on what was a ‘quiet night‘ for the dynamic asset, in the words of Glasgow Live’s Ben Banks.
Such an anonymous display ultimately didn’t prove costly in what was an end-to-end affair, although Postecoglou will know his side can’t afford to carry any passengers if they are to maintain their imperious form after the upcoming World Cup break.
For all of Abada’s goalscoring brilliance again this season – with nine goals in 20 games in all competitions – this latest outing was a reminder that the youngster is still far from the finished article.