Celtic are expecting a sterner test this term in their title defence against a rejuvenated Rangers side. The famous Glasgow rivals clinched a narrow 1-0 win earlier this afternoon which put the pressure back on the Hoops in their quest to reclaim the top of the table spot defeating Hearts at Celtic Park. The game, however, proved to be a stroll in the park for Neil Lennon’s men who claimed a comfortable 3-1 win to maintain their winning streak and superiority over the Gers on goal difference ahead of next weekend’s Old Firm derby.
Below are the Celtic players rated in their commanding win against Hearts.
Fraser Forster: 7
Had one nervy occasion late in the first half but was alert between the sticks on his return to Paradise. Made a majestic stop to deny Conor Washington late in the game, but the centre-forward was quick to react and reduced the deficit from the rebound.
Kristoffer Ajer: 8
Impressed once again as a makeshift fullback with timely overlapping runs as well as defensive work-rate to protect the goal. His crosses were menacing and assisted Vakoun Issouf Bayo around the hour mark. Made way for Anthony Ralston late in the game.
Christopher Julien: 7
Mostly had a comfortable afternoon in the heart of the Hoops’ backline. Was in the right place at the right time and did not allow the visitors to trouble much in and around the box.
Nir Bitton: 7
Calm and composed on the ball, had a towering presence alongside Julien. Made some timely blocks, interceptions as well as no-nonsense clearances to avoid the pressure.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo: 6.5
Improving with time and had a decent outing down the left-hand side of Celtic’s ‘back four’. Made some overlapping runs but needs to work more on his final delivery and decision making.
Scott Brown: 5.5
Conceded a silly penalty once again. Looked worn out in the second half and the gaffer must start rotating his skipper to keep him fit and fine for the entire campaign.
Callum McGregor: 8
Worked tirelessly in the centre of the pitch, carried the ball forward time and again and found the net spectacularly from a distance after picking up Ryan Christie’s pass. Orchestrated the tempo from a central role and created ample opportunities with his vision and creative spark.
James Forrest: 7.5
Assisted Bayo from the left to break the deadlock around the half-hour mark. Kept the Hearts defence on their toes with his directness, cut insides and swift one-twos.
Olivier Ntcham: 7
Dominated the midfield game banking on his physicality, with the ball runs as well as off the ball movements. Linked up well with the attackers to open up space and create chances in and around the opponents’ box. Made his way for Michael Johnston midway through the second half.
Ryan Christie: 7.5
Exhibited his versatility throughout and played his part in McGregor’s goal. Kept on changing his position, covered a lot of ground and threatened the visitors with his strong runs and dribbling attributes.
Vakoun Issouf Bayo: 9
Turned out to be the Hoops’ hero on his first start since joining them back in January. Scored a brace and was unlucky not to register a hat-trick as his header struck the woodwork before making way for Leigh Griffith amid the fans’ standing ovation.
Michael Johnston: 6.5
Has been in fine form and once again showcased glimpses of his excellence whenever he had the ball on his feet.
Leigh Griffiths: 6
Came in place of Bayo late in the game and failed to make any noteworthy contribution.
Anthony Ralston: NA
Played too little to warrant a rating.
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