The most important Celtic performance no one is talking about after 3-0 win

Updated: Aug 13


Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart and Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi

Celtic Park was at its unrivalled best last night as The Hoops eased past FK Jablonec 7-2 on aggregate, setting up a play-off fixture against Dutch opponents AZ Alkmaar next week.


Before the match, expectations were high as the club welcomed back a capacity crowd for the first time in over 18 months and supporters were still drooling from one of best Celtic performances in recent memory as a free-flowing, attacking Celtic side - orchestrated by Postecoglou - put six past Dundee at the weekend.


All eyes were on Kyogo Furuhashi to see if he picked up where he left off on Sunday, causing chaos among defenders with his intelligent, lightning-quick movement and accomplished finishing.


And it was the Japanese international who could've added two more Celtic goals to his name in the first fifteen minutes of this tie. After only 40 seconds, he found himself one on one with the keeper but the Czech stopper was wise to his double dummy and thwarted the forward.


Kyogo did have the ball in the net inside 20 minutes but a tight offside call saw the assistant raise his flag in favour of the visitors.


Unsung hero


Despite another display of attacking football where Turnbull (25,55) and Forrest (72) got their names on the score sheet, it's the performance and influence of a man at the other end of the pitch that's worth noting.


Joe Hart will not get the headlines in the morning papers but his contribution and impact in Celtic's second clean sheet in a row cannot be underestimated. The big Englishman made two excellent stops from close range after an uncharacteristic error from captain, Callum McGregor, gifted Jablonec a chance to pull a goal back.


Hart, who has not enjoyed consistent first team football for a few seasons now, is clearly relishing in the opportunity of cementing himself as Celtic's number one. The former Man City man is already endearing himself to the Celtic faithful and a back four that, while much improved, is still susceptible to errors.


Safe hands


It's no coincidence that Celtic claimed their second collection of nine league titles in a row with a reliable pair of hands in between the posts. Fraser Forster and Craig Gordon were both instrumental in their efforts by keeping clean sheets and making important stops when their teammates needed it most.


But this is not a trait unique to Celtic, we only need to take a look at all the most successful teams in history to see they all have one thing in common, a goalkeeper who can be a match winner.


Manuel Neuer, Edwin van der Sar and Petr Cech (who Joe Hart shares a Golden Glove record with) are just a few men who where equally as important to their team as the men scoring goals at the other end of the pitch.


It's still far too early for Hart's impact on this Celtic team to be comparable to those mentioned above but the foundations are there if Postecoglou can bring in defensive reinforcements to support an attack who have looked unplayable at times.


With three wins and a goal difference of +11 in the last three appearances, this Celtic team have the potential to cause real problems to anyone they come up against this season.


What have you made of Hart's start to his Celtic career so far? Let us know in the comments below.