Sport Soccer

Monday 23 April 2018

Celts can remain unbeaten -- Van Dijk

Celtic 1 Hibernian 0

Celtic's Teemu Pukki celebrates scoring
Celtic's Teemu Pukki celebrates scoring

Roddy Forsyth

It's not often there's an obvious similarity between Hibernian and Barcelona but Terry Butcher is able to reflect that, like the leaders of La Liga three days previously, the Easter Road side conceded only one goal in their meeting with Celtic. There, sadly for Hibs, the comparison ends.

The closest they got to a goal at Parkhead on Saturday was a Liam Craig shot off the post late on.

Celtic's Teemu Pukki had scored what proved to be the only goal of the contest, a tidy flick from Joe Ledley's cutback in the 27th minute. For Neil Lennon and his squad, it was necessary confirmation that life goes on after their drubbing in the Nou Camp.

It will now progress towards the inevitable conclusion of a third successive Scottish title, probably supplemented by the Scottish Cup, although how far that will provide nourishing fare for the club's support remains to be seen. It was suggested to Virgil van Dijk that Celtic, having gone 15 games unbeaten in the league, could extend the record for the remaining 23 fixtures. The Dutch central defender obligingly concurred.

"We know what we are capable of from each other and we saw it in the two games before we played Barcelona," he said. "We should be striving for it because, with the quality we have in the team it is possible, but you have to work hard and never underestimate anyone. After the game in midweek, it was good to get a win... I had put Barcelona out of my mind immediately once the game was over. When you lose 6-1, it is clear the other team performed better and we didn't perform. Therefore, you can't spend time thinking about that. You have to move on and that is what I did."

Pukki, who had been removed at half-time against Barcelona, left the field on this occasion to merited applause, having looked more predatory than usual.

"I hope that will be a turning point for Teemu," said Van Dijk. "It's always good to see when a player is a little bit down that he scores a goal. To make it better, it was a winning goal." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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