Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side got the second half of their Premiership campaign off to a perfect start against Hibernian on Monday evening, with the Bhoys securing a 2-0 victory at Parkhead to take them back to within three points of the current league leaders.
And, although the Hoops rather unusually saw the away side enjoy more possession of the ball, as well as Shaun Maloney’s side completing more passes in the fixture, the clinical nature of the Bhoys’ performance will nevertheless have been one that will have delighted Postecoglou – as putting teams to the sword is something that the 56-year-old’s side have struggled to do at points this season.
Furthermore, there were also two incredibly impressive debut displays for Celtic, with centre-forward Daizen Maeda – who took just four minutes to open his goalscoring account in Glasgow – and central midfielder Reo Hatate arguably being the 56-year-old manager’s best two players on the night.
However, while Maeda was fantastic against Hibs, it was undoubtedly the show-running performance of Hatate that will have most impressed Postecoglou and Celtic fans alike on Monday evening.
Indeed, over his 75 minutes on the pitch, the central midfielder appeared to be everywhere for the Bhoys, with the 24-year-old enjoying 61 touches of the ball – the second-most of Celtic’s midfielders – completing 37 passes – three of which were key – and finding his man with three of his five attempted long balls.
The £1.08m-rated man also had three shots at the Hibs goal – one of which forced Matt Macey into an excellent diving save from a shot from the edge of the box – won 100% of his ground duels and made one tackle, one interception and one clearance.
These returns saw the Japan international receive a highly impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.4, while the midfielder was also dubbed an “absolute pler” by Everything Celtic and won the Man of the Match award for his efforts on the night.
Indeed, should Hatate be able to keep up this rather extraordinary level of performance going forwards for Celtic, the 24-year-old will very quickly make his £1.38m transfer fee seem like one of the bargains of the season, with the former Kawasaki Frontale star undoubtedly now a nailed-on starter for Postecoglou at Parkhead.