Celtic increased their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership by swatting nearest challengers Aberdeen 3-0 on Saturday afternoon to keep them off their tail. It was a solid victory for Brendan Rodgers and guarantees Celtic as league leaders going into 2018.
Regardless of what happens in the final two games of the year, Celtic will finish the year in the same position that they started – on top. For a team looking in need of a break they haven’t surrendered their league position.
Mikael Lustig opened the scoring with a deflected shot on 40 minutes. It was all down the combination play of Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham, who would get on the score sheet themselves.
Goals have eluded Hayes since is £1M move from the Dons in the summer. We know he’s a capable player for this league, but he hasn’t really raised the quality of the squad.
For the player though, this will be a real boost to get that first goal and against his old club. It was a poachers goal if ever there was one but they all count and maybe this will help him push on for the rest of the season.
The third and final goal came from one of my favourite Celtic players. He’s had his critics from within our often fickle support, but this guy is a great player.
Ntcham is a young and gifted midfielder with the physical presence of an older, experienced player. He demonstrated that combination in this game and with his goal.
A very sloppy pass back by Kenny McLean was pounced onto by the Celtic midfielder who rounded the keeper to finish off a very good second half. Thanks for that Kenny.
So all in all a good days work for Celtic. The last word goes to Kristoffer Ajer.
Ajer was one of Ronny Deila’s last signings, albeit arriving after the former Celtic manager had departed. He came highly recommended, but got nowhere near the Celtic team in that first season with the exception of some preseason friendlies and a substitute appearance against Lincoln Red Imps.
In January of the same season he went on loan to Kilmarnock and played 17 games at the heart of the Ayrshire club’s defence. That warmed him up for the Scottish game in general but even then he has only managed four competitive appearances this season.
After the unconvincing displays from our preferred centre halves there is every chance we could see more of Ajer as the season progresses. He has had to be patient so perhaps now is the time for him to emerge.
With two games left in 2017 and eight points in front, Celtic are a position of strength going into the winter break. Next stop Dundee on Boxing Day.