With Ange Postecoglou knowing that his Celtic side simply must pick up all three points on Thursday evening if they were to keep the pace in the Premiership title race, the 56-year-old Bhoys boss will have undoubtedly been delighted with the 1-0 win at Parkhead.
Indeed, over the course of the 90 minutes, Celtic dominated Robbie Neilson’s third-placed Hearts side, enjoying 69% possession of the ball, taking a total of 25 shots at goal compared to the visitor’s nine, creating three big chances and completing 363 more passes than the Jambos.
And, while a great many of the Hoops starting XI deserve high praise for their own respective performances in the match, there is one player in particular who stood out against Hearts – in the shape of centre-back Carl Starfelt.
Having not featured for Celtic since October due to a hamstring injury, Starfelt was something of a surprise inclusion in Postecoglou’s starting XI on Thursday evening, however, the defender’s commanding display against the Jambos proved that his manager was right to throw him right back into the thick of the action.
The £17k-per-week Sweden international also enjoyed a whopping 117 touches of the ball, completed 95 passes, found his target with eight of his nine attempted long balls and made one key pass.
These returns saw the man who 67hailhail’s John McGinley dubbed a “colossus” earn a SofaScore match rating of 7.8 for his efforts, with no player from either side receiving a higher rating than the 26-year-old defender.
As such, with Starfelt very much running the show against Hearts, the centre-back more than proved that his manager’s decision to throw him straight back into the side was the correct call, while the defender’s impressive return to action is undoubtedly something that would appear to bode extremely well for Celtic over the upcoming hectic Christmas period.