THERE were many pleasing aspects of Celtic’s emphatic cinch Premiership victory over Aberdeen at Parkhead on Sunday afternoon for their playmaker Matt O’Riley.

First of all, O’Riley was content they had put the 6-0 drubbing they had suffered at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in Spain on Tuesday night firmly behind them by winning by exactly the same scoreline.

The Scottish champions restoring their eight point lead over Rangers, who had beaten Livingston away earlier in the day, at the top of the league table before the international break was also satisfying.

However, the fact that Brendan Rodgers’ team performed to such a high level against opponents who finished third in the top flight last term without several key players was especially heartening for the Dane.

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Rodgers was missing Daizen Maeda, who has been ruled out for six weeks as a result of the knee ligament injury he suffered against Atletico, and Yang Hyun-jun acquitted himself superbly out wide.

Kyogo Furuhashi, who had netted Celtic’s second early on, then suffered a head knock in the second half and had to be substituted. His replacement Oh Hyeon-gyu claimed an injury-time double.   

O’Riley believes the one-sided triumph against Aberdeen, who beat Rangers 3-1 at Ibrox in the league at the end of September, shows Celtic have the strength in depth they need to maintain their title push when club football resumes.

He is even optimistic that they can give a far better account of themselves in their final two European group games against Lazio away in Rome and Feyenoord in Glasgow.

“It was the perfect response to midweek,” he said. “I think a result like that was pending in the league, to be honest. We’ve put in enough good performances and it was time, with the utmost respect, that we gave someone a real doing.  There were a lot of chances created and it could’ve been more. It was needed.  

The Herald: “I shanked one from about three yards, so was a questionable finish. But we were on it right from the start with our runs in behind. We let them know they were going to be in for a game right from the start and we maintained that level throughout.

“Our approach is always the same. Some days you get a little luckier than others in front of goal. Sometimes an early goal against teams who have five at the back and who are trying to stop you kills their game plan. We score one, score two and they have to come out a little bit and that creates a little more space.”

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O’Riley added: “We’ve missed loads of good players this season. We missed Liel [Abada] early in the season who’s a really important player. We have other players like Maik [Nawrocki] who’s injured as well.

“But we’ve a really strong squad and it shows. Yang came in and left his mark on the Aberdeen game and Oh stepped up again. That shows the depth of the squad.

“Luis [Palma] has definitely stepped up as well. He has a lot of quality, we know that. We have to keep demanding that from him every game, pushing him to be at that level, because he’s definitely got a lot about him. I think he has impacted at this club really well so far, so the hope is that can continue.

“If everyone can start to get a bit of momentum we’ll be in a really good place going forward. The way we play we’re always going to create lots of chances and the more people who score the better.

“Naturally, they are going to have a bit more confidence and you sensed that throughout the team in the 6-0. I thought everybody looked really, really sharp and we’re all happy for each other when we score.”

Celtic developed a reputation for fighting until the final whistle and scoring important late goals during Ange Postecoglou’s two year tenure as manager and that is a trait they have not lost under Rodgers: they were on target three times in injury-time against Aberdeen.

O’Riley was not surprised the Premiership leaders piled on the pain for the visitors at the death and revealed that he had told his team mate James Forrest that they would increase their lead when he saw how much time was being added on.

The Herald: “We tire teams out, the way we play,” he said. “When you are 3-0 down at Celtic Park and you have been running for 90 minutes and you haven’t had much of the ball, naturally you are going to be tired. The spaces do open up.

“We had boys coming off the bench for the last half hour ready to fire. I think having that strength in depth to come on and really push the fitness levels, it is hard for teams to live with.

“I said to James as soon as I saw the board go up ‘we have 10 minutes here, we are going to get more chances’. And we did.”

Celtic are currently in bottom spot in their Champions League section after four games and look set to miss out on a place in the knockout rounds of a European competition for the second season running. However, O’Riley remains optimistic they can finish strongly and secure third or even second spot in Group E.

“I think we’ve played well in Europe,” he said. “Tuesday obviously wasn’t fun for anyone, but Champions League games are always very difficult when you have 10 men on the pitch, naturally.

“And especially against top teams. I think if we had kept 11 it would be a very different game. I know that is hindsight, but I genuinely believe that. I think we showed that at home against Atletico for the majority of the game that we were able to go toe-to-toe with them.

“I don’t think you should ever lose a game 6-0, but, at the same time, I think we are more than capable of playing at that level. We’ve two games left and we’ve still got a chance so we’ll give it our all. That ruthlessness we showed on Sunday is something we can take into Europe as well.”