Celtic‘s latest triumph over Motherwell in the League Cup proved a particularly important night for striker Kyogo Furuhashi, with the Japan international putting to bed his recent underwhelming form in front of goal to cap a fine night for the holders at Fir Park.
The 27-year-old has notably been criticised for his profligacy so far this season – particularly in the Champions League – with pundit John Hartson suggesting that both he and fellow forward Giorgos Giakoumakis “should have done better” in Europe.
The £5.4m-rated ace – who is yet to score in the group stage of that competition this term – had notably spurned key chances in the defeat to RB Leipzig at Parkhead last week, with manager Ange Postecoglou subsequently stating that his side had paid the “ultimate price” for their wasteful nature in front of goal, having seen their hopes of progression ended.
Heading into last night’s encounter with the Steelmen, the former Vissel Kobe man – who arrived in Glasgow last summer – had scored just once since his blistering hat-trick against Dundee United back in August, with that solitary strike having also come against Steven Hammell’s side a few weeks ago.
Amid that dry spell for the £18k-per-week speedster, teammate Giakoumakis has staked his claim for more regular involvement with three goals in his last two league outings, including a brace in Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing of Hibernian.
With the pressure no doubt on Kyogo to deliver the goods amid that intense competition from the Greek, the diminutive ace seemingly sent a strong message to his manager by getting himself back among the goals, as the Scottish champions breezed to victory against the Well.
It had been a tale of persistence for the 16-cap menace to get on the scoresheet, however, having inexplicably missed a gilt-edged chance in the opening exchanges, while also seeing a fine effort strike the crossbar.
The 5 foot 7 ace then again squandered a clear-cut opportunity after firing his effort straight at opposition ‘keeper Liam Kelly following compatriot Reo Hatate’s threaded pass, with it looking set to be one of those nights for the striker.
As it proved, the Nara-born sensation finally ended that frustration by tapping home at the back post late on after Liel Abada’s initial effort had struck the woodwork, with that long-awaited goal having seemingly been a “big moment” for the player, in the words of journalist John McGinley.
While Postecoglou had suggested he was unconcerned by Kyogo’s recent rut due to the impressive nature of his overall performances – having been “causing problems” in attack of late – it will likely have been pleasing to see the tenacious asset add to his goal tally, serving as a reminder as to just what he can offer to the Hoops.