I am fast running out of superlatives to throw at Celtic's recent form, and words such as perfection have a tendency to be a catalyst for complacency to set in. But, if perfection is an unattainable benchmark defined by the likes of Aristotle, then Celtic's demolition of a team, that going in to the clash were title favourites, was an admirable candidate.
Sometimes, before a ball is even kicked, you can tell when a team is going to be lackluster, and you need only look back at the 3 nil loss the last time these two clashed, or the 1-1 draw with Zoomer back in July for prime examples, but this time, when the pressure was on, every Celtic player turned up with a point to prove, readied for the task in hand.
Straight from the off, Celtic were showing their intent, pushing KU into their own half with youthful exuberance, and they wouldn't have to wait long for the first chance to come their way. With Barrero partnering Teague up front, and Curley dropping into midfield in a new look Celtic, the tactical adjustment soon paid dividends in the shape of a corner. Barrero whipped the corner into the near post but the on rushing Teague, and Monaghan at the back post could not stab the ball home as it flew across the face of goal.
Celtic continued to boss proceedings, and were soon rewarded for all their dogged determination and lengthy possession, when a loose ball was picked up Rodrigo, who, with minimal touches spotted the diagonal run of Teague, and slipped in a defense splitting through ball. Teague's first touch took him away from the trailing defender, and with his second, tucked the ball past the on rushing keeper, in to the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.
The goal only seemed to boost the already sky high confidence of Celtic, and dent KU moral. Facing an up hill struggle, KU were struggling to get to grips with the irrepressible central midfield duo of Prior and Curley. The latter of whom soon made his mark on the game. After picking up the ball in midfield, Curley made a typical penetrating run towards the heart of the KU defense. KU failed to close down the run, and practically beckoned Curley as he neared the edge of the box. Curley needed no invitation to shoot, and from 20 yards, unleashed a pile driver which only had one destination, 2 nil Celtic.
Unfortunately, Celtic, and therefore this match report had to take a momentary break from scoring goals, as it was now time for wanna be star........the referee. Having already been dishing out yellow cards like a scalper off loading Benfica tickets, the ref's cry for attention was remedied by issuing Gonzales his second yellow even though he was not on the pitch, having just been replaced by Imnaishvili. I am still trying to work out exactly what infraction occurred to warrant a second yellow and a first for Imnaishvili, following what looked like a routine substitution. What ever the reason, in the confusion that followed and with the ref preoccupied by "Graham Poll yellow card mathematics", play continued with Celtic at full strength. All this from a man, who scarcely avoided slaughter at the hands of Sierra only a few weeks back, courtesy of the brave Fourie -gratitude personified.
Despite the referee's starring role, Celtic did manage to keep the football flowing, and virtually settled the tie right before the stoke of half time. Barrero was causing yet more problems for KU down the left wing, and after beating his man, squared a ball to McCann, who poised with intent just outside the 6 yard box, dummied the centre back and then calmly placed the ball past the despondent keeper.
After much delay, Celtic kicked off the second half reduced to 10 men, after the referee finally made account for all the frivolous yellow cards. The extra man gave KU some much needed impetus, and for the first time in the match, managed to enjoy healthy periods of possession, as Celtic were resigned to counter attack. Unfortunately for KU, resolute defending by the centre back partnership of Mercier and Carney, reduced attacks to long range efforts which usually ended up somewhere in the dense greenery behind the Celtic Goal.
Celtic, with a three goal cushion, were content to play counter attacking football, with the trap ready to spring in to action should an outlet arise. And, midway through the second half the trap was released with devastating effect. After being crowded by KU on the touchline, just inside the Celtic half, Bredin managed dig out a lush ball which released McCann down the left wing. McCann playing the loan strikers role, continued his run towards goal. With little in the way off reinforcements, McCann now deep in the KU box, went it alone and finished clinically beating the keeper at the near post.
The goal dispelled any hope of a KU come back, even after a penalty was awarded thanks to the linesman's intervention. The same linesman who had been involved in the substitution booking debacle in the first half. The penalty, which was converted served to be small consolation, and more of a blot on what was otherwise destine to be a fifth consecutive clean sheet.
Before the referee took mercy on KU, their was still time for Teague to get his second goal of the game. After another Celtic break away, Teague chased a through ball, with the keeper rapidly closing in and just managed to win the foot race, edging the ball past a fully committed keeper, and finishing from a tight angle into the vacant net.
Celtic still have to ensure they win their remaining games, and hope that KU drop points, but what ever the outcome of the TSSL media league come September, this victory has to go up there as one of Celtic's best performances to date. Next stop Morton, where Celtic will once again have to put on a display of the highest standard if they are to continue this winning streak.