THE 10 men of Celtic battled to a deserved win over Livingston as a Reo Hatate penalty and a Matt O’Riley goal either side of a red card for Joe Hart eased them to three points.

Daizen Maeda rounded things off for the champions with a peach of a finish deep into stoppage time.

Here are the talking points as the champions won for the third time in succession in West Lothian…


Celtic have certainly made things difficult for themselves this week, and they continued the theme here as goalkeeper Hart made a poor decision to come charging out of his area to wipe out Mo Sangare and pick up a deserved red card.

He wasn’t really helped by his defence, mind you, with Gustaf Lagerbielke and Liam Scales being caught out by a simple ball over the top to allow Sangare to hare in behind them, but even still, Hart didn’t really need to come so far from his goal.

Having made the decision though, he had to go all the way, and as soon as Sangare poked the ball past the Celtic keeper there was only going to be one outcome.

It rounded off a poor week for Hart after his error that gifted Feyenoord the crucial opening goal in the Champions League tie on Tuesday night, and the question marks over his ongoing suitability as a Celtic number one will only increase in the wake of this latest mistake.

The seldom seen Scott Bain will hope to stake a claim for the role after coming on here, but he too was almost punished for a howler, being caught on the ball by Joel Nouble and breathing a sigh of relief as the striker lobbed his resultant effort over the bar.


By his manager’s own admission, Hatate’s head was a little turned by the speculation surrounding his future over the summer, and his form had dipped at the start of the season. He then picked up an injury and looked miles off the pace in the defeat to Feyenoord, but he looked a lot more like his old self here.

Just about everything positive that Celtic did as they dominated the game in the early stages came through the midfielder, linking the play brilliantly between the defence and attack.

He topped off that positive start by just about squeezing Celtic’s penalty under the body of Shamal George to give the visitors the lead, an award of the stonewall variety after Luiyi De Lucas clumsily tripped Hatate in the area as he latched onto a lovely Greg Taylor pass.


You can see why managers for both club and country like Daizen Maeda. He has electric pace, is strong, and makes some brilliant runs. And his seemingly boundless energy proved invaluable after his team were reduced to 10.

His passing though can be wayward to say the least, and all too often there is an erratic end product when he manages to get into promising positions.

Nothing summed this up more than the sequence of play that led to Celtic’s crucial second goal here. Kyogo did brilliantly to peel off into the right channel and produced a pinpoint cross to put the ball on a plate for Maeda a couple of yards from goal. His composure deserted him though, getting the ball caught under his feet and breathing a hefty sigh of relief as O’Riley followed in to slam home and give the 10 men a valuable cushion.

In fairness to Maeda, he did show great feet to turn in the Livi box during the first half and was unlucky to see his shot saved by George from close range, and his goal to put the cherry on top for Celtic - his hardest chance of the day - was a thing of beauty.

He chopped back onto his left foot to sit a Livi defender on his backside, and curled a stunning effort into the opposite corner. But knowing he has that in the locker makes it all the more frustrating when he so often doesn’t produce in promising areas.


As for O’Riley, his goal here means he has now matched the tally of four that he posted for the entirety of last season, showing he has rediscovered the scoring touch he showed when he first moved north from MK Dons, and topping off an impressive showing.

Playing on the right of the midfield three, the Danish under-21 international was classy in possession, diligent in his defending, and composed in his finishing when his opportunity arrived.

It wasn’t as if he was playing badly last term, and his lack of goals could at least be partly attributed to the fact he had to deputise in a deeper role for the injured McGregor for a spell.

But he seems to have taken his game up a level again since the start of this campaign, and he more than showed his worth again here.


It will be a huge annoyance to Livingston manager Davie Martindale that his team again allowed Celtic to score early here, something their left-back Taylor had pinpointed prior to the match was key to their victories here last season. Particularly as it was so avoidable.

But what will perhaps frustrate him more is that his team just didn’t do the things that previously made it so difficult for teams to garner points from their visits to the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Credit must go to Celtic for the way that their midfield axis of Callum McGregor, Hatate and O’Riley dominated the middle of the park, but their direct opponents in the Livi midfield were sitting far too deep, almost on the toes of their central defenders for long spells and allowing Celtic to control possession.

It was also a mystery why they didn’t go direct to Joel Nouble more often, with the big forward posted out on the left. Whenever he did get the chance to compete aerially with Lagerbielke he invariably dominated the duel, and with Sangare running off him it appeared a potentially profitable route for the hosts.

Alas, they just didn’t test Celtic enough, even with a man advantage.