Livingston failed to take advantage of 10 men Celtic as they fell to a 3-0 defeat against the reigning Premiership champions, with a first half penalty from Reo Hatate added to by Matt O’Reilly and Daizen Maeda.
The Lions made two changes from their 1-1 draw in Dingwall, with David Martindale choosing Scott Pittman and Mo Sangare for Stephen Kelly and injured Michael Devlin.
It was the Lions who started the brighter of the two sides, with Bruce Anderson forcing a very good save from Joe Hart. A long ball forward from Shamal George was nodded on by Joel Nouble. Anderson judged the bounce of the ball better than defender Liam Scales and looked to blast past Hart in the Celtic goal, however the Celtic keeper got two hands to the ball to keep it out.
Celtic, who’s slow start could be attributed to their midweek trip to Feyenord, started to get a grip on the game, and would be given a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Taylor played a defence busting ball through from the middle of the park to Hatate, who got on the right side of Luiyi De Lucas. The latter felled the former in the box with whistler John Beaton showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It was Hatate himself who would step up to take the penalty, and was perhaps fortuitous to squeeze the ball under George to take the lead.
Maeda would force a wonderful save of Shamal George after finding space in the 6 yard box, with the ball striking to keepers head on the way out.
Then the moment of controversy which had the potential to change the match. Penrice sent the ball forward in the path of Mo Sangare, beating the last line of defence for the Glasgow giants. This forced Hart out of his goal to try and intercept the ball, however collected the player rather than the ball. Despite a VAR check, it appeared clear as day as the former England international was given his marching orders, with Scott Bain coming on to replace James Forrest.
The Lions would go close from the resulting free-kick, with Penrice smashing the side netting with his effort. A long distance shot from Obileye followed, however this was very comfortable for the backup keeper.
Sangare could, and probably should have done better with his attempt early in the second half, with Jamie Brandon finding space on the right wing, his cross low finding the feet of Sangare however his shot was all wrong and well wide of the mark.
Moments later, and Celtic would double their lead. Kyogo Furuhashi crossed the ball in from the right which found Maeda at the back post. His shot was saved well by George, however the ball was parried right into the path of O’Reilly who made no mistake in drilling home from 6 yards.
Livi’s best opportunity would fall to Joel Nouble. Bain could perhaps have been accused of rustiness as he was caught sleeping on the ball. Nouble decided to loft the ball over the keeper and defenders and found the top of the net, when it may perhaps have been the better choice to get his head down and drill into the empty net.
Kyogo was causing issues down the right all game for Livi and his cross once again found Maeda with acres of space in the Lion’s box, however George was out quick and saved incredibly well to prevent Celtic scoring again.
He wouldn’t be able to stop the man from Japan scoring in the end however, as late in stoppage time he would latch onto the end of a De Lucas header, stepped inside to curl the ball beautifully into the net to take three goals, and three points back to Parkhead.
Match Report: David Hastie
George, Obileye, Pittman (Bradley ▊ 58), Anderson, Brandon (Parkes ▊ 58), Holt ©️, Nouble, Sangare (St.Kelly 58), Shinnie ▊(Lawal ▊ 71), de Lucas ▊, Penrice (Guthrie 71)
Subs not used:
Hart ▊, Johnston ▊, Lagerbielke, Scales ▊, Taylor, O’Riley, McGregor ©️, Hatate (Tomoki 61), Forrest (Bain 30), Kyogo, Maeda
Subs not used:
|Referee: John Beaton | HT: 0-1 | Att: 8,118