Celtic back on top after beating Livingston

3 weeks ago 26
Paolo Bernardo strikes to make it 2-0 in West LothianPaolo Bernardo strikes to make it 2-0 in West Lothian

Celtic returned to top spot in the Scottish Premiership after a strong second-half showing overpowered stubborn Livingston.

The breakthrough came from a fortuitous Jamie Brandon own goal and home goalkeeper Shamal George was kept busy before Paulo Bernardo crashed in a splendid strike.

Matt O'Riley added a third late on, his tame shot eluding George.

The defending champions lead Rangers by a point again having played a game more, with the Old Firm rivals ready to meet at Ibrox next Sunday.

Bottom club Livingston remain 10 points adrift of Ross County with seven games to go.

Reo Hatate was making just his fifth league start of the season following a series of injuries and the Japan midfielder curled a strike wide from 20 yards during a drab first half.

Despite having 76% possession, the visitors' first shot on target came in stoppage time before the interval, with George at full stretch to push away a sharp effort from Kyogo Furuhashi.

The striker had earlier been the subject of a brief VAR check for a possible penalty when Nicky Devlin appeared to dunt his heel with a challenge from behind.

The anxiousness in the three stands containing Celtic fans lifted four minutes into the second half when Hatate found room to test George from close range and the rebound struck Brandon on the chest before trundling over the line.

George then had to look lively to keep out a rising strike from Nicolas Kuhn and made a great diving stop to thwart Kyogo again.

Bernardo replaced the impressive Hatate and wasted no time in making an impression, driving forward to work a one-two with O'Riley before drilling the ball low into the corner of the net from near the edge of the box.

The one-way traffic continued and O'Riley completed the scoring with his 12th goal of the season when George failed to stop a weak shot.

Player of the match - Reo Hatate (Celtic)

On his comeback from injury, the midfielder reminded us how important a player he is for CelticOn his comeback from injury, the midfielder provided a timely reminder of how important a player he is for Celtic

Hatate catches the eye in Celtic canter - analysis

Substitutes Adam Idah, James Forrest and Daniel Kelly all came close to adding to Celtic's tally in the closing moments as their goal difference moves to one better than Rangers.

Serving a suspension in the stand, manager Brendan Rodgers will have seen his team play better but will be satisfied with the way they remained patient to break down opponents set up to defend en masse.

Cameron Carter-Vickers lasted the full game after his latest injury setback, although the centre-half had very little to do.

Hatate was much more conspicuous during his 63 minutes of action. His touch, composure and energy have been missed and he could be a key player over the run-in.

Livingston have only scored nine goals at home in 15 league games and at no stage threatened to add to that meagre total.

Yes, Tete Yengi put himself about but the lone centre forward did not get a sniff of a chance in the penalty box.

Manager David Martindale set up with four central defenders and five midfielders grafting hard to subdue Celtic, but the plan went up in smoke the moment the unlucky Brandon knocked the ball into his own net.

What next?

Livingston host Aberdeen next Saturday (15:00 BST), while on Sunday Celtic make the short trip across Glasgow to take on title rivals Rangers (12:00).

Line-ups

Livingston

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1George
  • 21Nottingham
  • 5DevlinBooked at 46mins
  • 6Obileye
  • 24Kelly
  • 18HoltSubstituted forAndersonat 73'minutes
  • 12Brandon
  • 8Pittman
  • 10KellySubstituted forGuthrieat 80'minutes
  • 16BradleySubstituted forMackayat 53'minutes
  • 33Yengi

Substitutes

  • 4Carson
  • 9Anderson
  • 11Mackay
  • 20Sangare
  • 23McGovern
  • 28Guthrie
  • 32Hamilton

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Hart
  • 2Johnston
  • 20Carter-Vickers
  • 5Scales
  • 3Taylor
  • 33O'RileySubstituted forKellyat 87'minutes
  • 24Iwata
  • 41HatateSubstituted forGonçalves Bernardoat 65'minutes
  • 10KühnSubstituted forYangat 71'minutes
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forIdahat 71'minutes
  • 38MaedaSubstituted forForrestat 87'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Idah
  • 13Yang
  • 17Nawrocki
  • 28Gonçalves Bernardo
  • 29Bain
  • 48Kelly
  • 49Forrest
  • 56Ralston
  • 57Welsh

Referee:Don Robertson

Attendance:8,396

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Livingston 0, Celtic 3.

  2. Second Half ends, Livingston 0, Celtic 3.

  3. Attempt missed. Jamie Brandon (Livingston) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a fast break.

  4. Liam Scales (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Foul by Kurtis Guthrie (Livingston).

  6. Attempt missed. Daniel Kelly (Celtic) header from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by James Forrest with a cross following a corner.

  7. Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jamie Brandon.

  8. Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Michael Devlin.

  9. Attempt saved. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Yang Hyun-Jun.

  10. Attempt missed. Adam Idah (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

  11. Substitution, Celtic. Daniel Kelly replaces Matt O'Riley.

  12. Substitution, Celtic. James Forrest replaces Daizen Maeda.

  13. Greg Taylor (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Foul by Tete Yengi (Livingston).

  15. Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  16. Delay in match because of an injury Daniel Mackay (Livingston).

  17. Goal! Livingston 0, Celtic 3. Matt O'Riley (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam Idah.

  18. Attempt blocked. Matt O'Riley (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Paulo Bernardo.

  19. Attempt blocked. Matt O'Riley (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Greg Taylor.

  20. Attempt missed. Bruce Anderson (Livingston) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Mackay.

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