Scottish champions Celtic head into the World Cup break with a firm grip on top spot, having moved to nine points clear at the summit ahead of bitter rivals Rangers following a 2-1, comeback victory over Ross County on Saturday.
Ange Postecoglou’s side had received a real boost going into that meeting after their Old Firm foes had slipped up once again away to St Mirren in the day’s early kickoff, although the Hoops initially made hard work of it against Malky Mackay’s side at Parkhead.
After a largely uneventful opening, it was in fact the visitors who struck the first blow after the break as David Cancola cooly converted from the penalty spot, following what was another hugely contentious handball decision to go against the Bhoys, with Matt O’Riley the man to be penalised this time around.
Following all the controversy surrounding VAR in the midweek win over Motherwell – including that disallowed Jota goal – the much-maligned technology had again been something of a nemesis for the hosts, leaving Postecoglou’s men with a real battle to get back into the game.
As it proved, the relentless league leaders perhaps unsurprisingly recovered from that harsh setback to power their way to victory, with playmaker David Turnbull drawing his side level, before summer signing Sead Haksabanovic completed the turnaround with a stunning finish late on.
That has ensured the positivity continues around Paradise ahead of this extended period without competitive club action, although that’s not to say that there weren’t notable negatives this afternoon, with striker Kyogo Furuhashi once such figure who underwhelmed.
The Japan international – who was recently omitted from his nation’s squad for Qatar – had gone into the match in fine goalscoring form with three goals in his last three Scottish Premiership games, although the 27-year-old was unable to keep that run going with a limp showing at Celtic Park.
The former Vissel Kobe man spurned notable first-half openings as the home side struggled to make their possession dominance count, with the £19k-per-week menace eventually taking just ten touches in the games as a whole – fewer than teammate Joe Hart in the sticks (19).
That limited impact also saw the diminutive marksman complete just two of his four passes and lose possession three times, having failed to offer any real quality beyond his typically tireless work ethic.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 16-cap machine was hooked in the closing stages as fellow forward Giorgos Giakoumakis took his place in attack, with the two men having enjoyed real healthy competition for a starting berth this season.
As for as Kyogo is concerned, the lack of action in the coming weeks could well be timely, with this a performance that he will be keen to forget in hurry.