Ange Postecoglou hails ‘laser focus’ of Celtic players during title charge

The Hoops took a step closer to being crowned champions with a 2-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall on Sunday.

By Press Association Published: 24 April 2022 - 5.09pm

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou hailed his players’ laser focus after they took a major step closer to being crowned champions with a 2-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall.

The cinch Premiership leaders can now all but secure the title if they beat Rangers at Parkhead next Sunday to go nine points clear with three games left.

Celtic, who are 19 goals better off than their city rivals, came through a tricky spell at the start of the second half in Dingwall but Joe Hart was never seriously troubled.

Kyogo Furuhashi’s first goal since the Premier Sports Cup final sent Celtic on the way when he headed home in the 12th minute, and Jota slid home to net from close range three minutes from time to ease the tension among the visiting fans.

Celtic have now won 24 and drawn three of their last 27 league games after dropping 11 points in their first seven matches, and Postecoglou is full of admiration for how his players have handled the pressure following their slow start.

“Every game has been important to win,” he said. “Have a look at our record from round six. If people can show me the games where we could have afforded a slip-up, I’ll be happy to have a look.

“We just have to continue on with the football we’ve been playing with whatever challenges we have and I felt we did that.

“We’ve been walking this tightrope for a very, very long time. I think people haven’t noticed because the players have dealt with it very well.

“You look at our record and the challenges we’ve had throughout that time, the players have been laser focused.

“I’m not surprised, but very proud. It’s one of those where sometimes I sit back and just think about what this group of men have achieved in such a short space of time.

“The beauty of it is that they’ll be back in now and getting into recovery and getting ready to go again next week. They won’t even be talking about anything else other than that we got the job done.”

Postecoglou was able to bring on the attacking talents of Liel Abada, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Tom Rogic, David Turnbull and James Forrest in the second half as Celtic regained control of the game.

“We probably should have been two or three up in the first half,” he said.

“Even our defending I thought was really strong. They are an awkward team to play against, they put the ball in the box and have opportunities from throw-ins and free-kicks. I thought that we handled the whole process really well.

“There’s enough commentary about it to know that this wasn’t going to be an easy game. The last time they lost here was against us. We’ve come away with a really strong victory.”

County boss Malky Mackay could sense the nerves from the visiting fans before Jota sealed the win.

“We made sure we stayed calm before half-time, because one can turn into two and three against Celtic,” he said.

“We stayed in the game until half-time and in the second half I asked us to be a bit more brave, in terms of playing higher, going man for man at the back and pressing them.

“That maybe led to some tiredness in their passing, which allowed us to get a break on them in our half.

“We had a couple of half-chances, but anything you get you have to take it. The little bit of quality was just missing as far as that’s concerned.

“We ran them to the last couple of minutes, so in one sense I’m very proud we got to this point against the best team in the country.

“Up to the very last five minutes it seemed a very nervy occasion for their crowd, as we had the chance to nick one back.”

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