CELTIC have retained the Premiership title as Ange Postecoglou backed up the success of his first season in Glasgow with a fair bit to spare.

Along the way though there were critical matches - and moments within them - that ultimately showed why Celtic ran out worthy winners of the league for a second successive season.

Here we take a look at six matches that proved pivotal to the defence of their Premiership crown.

Celtic 4 Rangers 0 – September 3rd, 2022

Celtic had come steaming out of the blocks in defence of their title, hitting nine past Dundee United at Tannadice the week prior to Rangers’ visit to Celtic Park, and opening up an early two-point gap on their main rivals alongside a healthy goal difference. Both tallies would be added to handsomely by the end of what was a contest in name only.

Any designs Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s men had on usurping the champions at the top of the standings were torn asunder within minutes, as Liel Abada tormented Rangers once again with a first-half double either side of a delicious Jota dink over the hapless Jon McLaughlin to put Ange Postecoglou’s men three up at the interval.

McLaughlin’s misery was complete as the keeper fluffed a pass to substitute David Turnbull late on, who put the icing on the cake of a statement win.

St Johnstone 1 Celtic 2 – October 8th, 2022

By the time this visit to McDiarmid Park rolled around, the hectic early season schedule had seemed to take something of a toll on Celtic, who weren’t quite hitting the heights of the early weeks of the campaign.

They had lost away to St Mirren following Champions League duty, and they came to Perth with Rangers having eaten into their early lead at the top of the standings. In fact, as Saints defender Alex Mitchell scored in injury time to cancel out an Andy Considine goal, it looked for all the world that the draw would see Celtic end the weekend level on points with the Ibrox men.

Giorgos Giakoumakis had other ideas. Alexandro Bernabei, on just his second start for the club, got down the left and fired a cross into the area that the big Greek striker managed to force home to spark wild scenes of celebration reminiscent of the last-gasp Anthony Ralston goal at Ross County the season before.

It was a goal that felt just as pivotal, proving yet again that Postecoglou’s side can find a way to win even when not at their best, and when it looked highly unlikely. A gut punch for St Johnstone, and for Rangers.

Hearts 3 Celtic 4 – October 22nd, 2022

This match is more notorious for the impact VAR had on its Scottish football debut, crashing its way onto the scene in a manner which rather foretold what was to come. It was also another example though of Celtic finding a way to win when the odds seemed stacked against it.

James Forrest was handed a rare start and opened the scoring for Celtic, but a Lawrence Shankland penalty and another from the striker (either side of an infamous penalty claim for handball against Michael Smith that was ignored) had the hosts ahead just after the interval.

Goals from Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda swung a topsy-turvy encounter back in Celtic’s favour, but another Shankland penalty drew Hearts level once more as the game entered a frantic finale.

It was Celtic who would find the critical goal, with Greg Taylor of all people popping up to slide the ball home and ensure that while VAR stole the headlines, it was Celtic who crucially bagged the three points in the capital.

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 1 – December 17th, 2022

This game was the antithesis of that thrilling contest at Tynecastle, with Jim Goodwin copping huge flak from his own supporters for the way he sent his team out against Celtic at Pittodrie.

The Dons were permanently camped deep in their own territory in an attempt to frustrate Celtic, and Goodwin almost got the result he may have hoped would vindicate his approach as his men stood firm until the dying minutes of the match.

Again, though, Celtic found a way to overcome the obstacle before them, and it was fitting that it was captain Callum McGregor who belted in the only goal of the game from the edge of the area upon his return from a two-month layoff caused by a knee injury.

It was Celtic’s 33rd shot of a game that resembled an attack vs defence training exercise for the most part, and as well as delivering another huge three points, it also showed any domestic rivals tempted to follow such a blueprint that they wouldn’t be foiled by such a negative approach.

Rangers 2 Celtic 2 – January 3rd, 2023

The only game on the list that didn’t end in a victory for Celtic, but given the manner by which they achieved this draw, it certainly felt like one for the pocket of 800 supporters wedged into a corner of Ibrox.

It had all looked to be going to plan for the visitors as a poor Alfredo Morelos pass allowed Maeda to skip past a weak James Tavernier challenge and fire Celtic ahead after just five minutes, but Rangers ground their way back into the contest as the match wore on.

Ryan Kent hit a brilliant equaliser just after the break, before a Carl Starfelt foul on Fashion Sakala allowed Tavernier to put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot.

If Rangers had managed to hold on to their lead, they would have moved within six points of Celtic at the top of the standings, but up popped Kyogo in the final minute of the 90 to side foot home high past Allan McGregor and maintain Celtic’s nine-point advantage.

Realistically, this was the moment that ended any real debate about the destination of the title.

Celtic 3 Rangers 2 – April 8th, 2022

No matter the outcome of this one, Celtic seemed destined to become champions again, but a revival at Ibrox under Michael Beale saw him come into this game unbeaten in the league and hoping to sow some late seeds of doubt in Celtic minds.

By the time they left Celtic Park all doubt had been removed, as Kyogo’s early strike seemed to set the home fans up for a de facto title party.

A brilliant Tavernier free kick put the champagne on ice for a short time, but a second from Kyogo as he pounced on some dreadful Ben Davies defending and a coolly taken third from Jota after a John Souttar blunder had corks popping in the east end of Glasgow.

Not even a late Tavernier header for Rangers could dampen spirits, as the Celtic supporters eventually left the ground knowing that their 12-point lead would be more than enough to allow them to tuck the Premiership trophy back into their cabinet.