Celtic 0-0 Livingston match story: Ange Postecoglou calls it wrong with personnel and penalties

Celtic certainly appear as if they will be an endless source of fascination this season.

Celtic's Giorgos Giakoumakis has his penalty saved by Livingston's Max Stryjek in the dramatic conclusion to the scoreless draw that kept Ange Postecoglou's men off the top spot in the table. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Giorgos Giakoumakis has his penalty saved by Livingston's Max Stryjek in the dramatic conclusion to the scoreless draw that kept Ange Postecoglou's men off the top spot in the table. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

How Ange Postecoglou’s men could appear so limp at home to Livingston only days after lording it over Hibs at Easter Road suggests it won’t always be a position to cherish. The fluffing of their lines when the starring role was on offer was sobering...a scoreless draw to end a four-game league winning sequence preventing them earning the pre-eminent position in the cinch Premiership - at least temporarily - that their legions fully expected to be cherishing come full-time.

Visiting manager David Martindale joked it was down to him that the West Lothian men are taking on the appearance of a bogey team to Celtic. There is something in that with a most unlikely clean sheet and point claimed in the east end of Glasgow despite being constantly under the pump. Six weeks on from inflicting the most painful defeat of Postecoglou’s tenure on their own patch. Martindale superbly organised his men into a defensive shape that was five, eight and practically 10-strong as they ceded territory but not inroads to a Celtic boasting 85% possession.

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Yet, the Celtic manager can be considered to have played into Martindale’s hands. The Livingston manager on radio beforehand openly expressed delight over Kyogo Furuhashi starting on the bench. Celtic simply do not have the same disorientating effect on opponents without the Japanese attacker’s movement through the middle. And without the injured Tom Rogic they didn’t not have the same incisiveness in crafting openings from the centre. It was astonishing they fashioned only two efforts on target.

One of these, of course, was the first of two pivotal moments that rolled around in added time. And for the first, again Postecoglou must be held accountable. Following a stupid cuff round the ear from Oyo Obileye on Furuhashi that resulted in the centre-back being shown a red by referee Bobby Madden as well as the official pointing to the spot, it seemed a case of being too clever by half in handing the penalty duties to Giorgos Giakoumakis. Inexplicable, really, when Josip Juranovic had proved so clinical in despatching two penalties for the club this season - the second only last Saturday in the 2-0 home win over St Johnstone.

The Greek striker didn’t look confident, didn’t have the right body shape when he struck a powder-puff effort Max Stryjek easily dropped to his right to keep out. He then compounded that aberration by suffering similarly in scuffing from only yards out when the ball sat up for him with the goal gaping seconds later. Rangers will be pinching themselves that, for all their toils this season, they have the opportunity to restore a four-point gap at the top of the table at Motherwell tomorrow. Celtic, meanwhile, must face up to the fact that just when they seem to have put their away league form in order, it is now at home - with two draws in three games - they are exhibiting damaging flaws.

Celtic: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt (Furuhashi 58), Juranovic; Bitton; Abada (Johnston 58), Turnbull, McGregor, Jota (Forrest 82); Giakoumakis. Subs: McCarthy, Bain, Montgomery, Welsh.

Livingston: Stryjek; Devlin, Obileye, Fitzwater, Parkes, Kelly; Bailey, Holt, Omeonga, Shinnie (Forrest 73); Anderson (Panayiotou 73). Subs: Maley, Longridge, Jacobs, Montano, McMillan.

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