Celtic Aaron Mooy questions amid exceptional Reo Hatate showing in ultimately sloppy Legia draw

The benefits that can be derived from signings don’t always even require them to contribute on the pitch.

Celtic' goalscorer Reo Hatate was a stand-out in his team's win over Legia Warsaw. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic' goalscorer Reo Hatate was a stand-out in his team's win over Legia Warsaw. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Aaron Mooy, fresh from signing a two-year deal with Celtic earlier this week, wasn’t involved as Ange Postecoglou’s men fought out a 2-2 draw with Legia Warsaw. The case, too, for this week’s other arrival in centre-back Moritz Jenz, who has pitched up in a loan deal from French club Lorient. Yet, simply the fact that the combative Mooy now finds himself added to the plethora of options his fellow Australian has for his central midfield triangle seemed to impact on Celtic dominant first-half in Waraw. A 45 minutes that gave way to a poor second half as a comprehensive rejig of the visiting team precipitated the loss of a two-goal lead. But the Mooy factor initially seemed to inspire Reo Hatate, in particular, with the Japanese midfielder appearing on a mission in his run-out to show he should not to be the man to have his opportunities squeezed by the Australian international.

Hatate has confessed to struggles with fatigue on the back of arriving in Scotland in January straight offf the back of a full season in his homeland. It resulted in his form shading towards the end of Celtic title-winning season. Now refreshed, his exceptional, energy-fuelled, craft-filled display, served to remind of his destructive talents when operating at full pelt.

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Flanked by Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley, Hatate was central to Celtic suffocating their hosts and taking, what should have been, an unassailable lead. He conjured up the first with an exquisite lofted volley over the shoulder of the helpless Boruc after he had been picked out by a measured ball hoisted into him by Callum McGregor 14 minutes in. At the centre of all that was good about Celtic as they overwhelmed Legia - they three times struck the goalframe - he then fashioned a delightful defence-splitting pass close to the interval that allowed Daizen Maeda to drift off the shoulder of his marker and slot in.

Celtic desperately lost their way as Hatate and O’Riley were replaced by Yosuke Ideguchi and David Turnbull before James McCarthy later took over from McGregor amid wholesale changes. Once he is up to speed, Postecoglou will surely turn to Mooy, with the experienced head capable of performing as the aggressive, enforcer type that has been a missing element in the Celtic side. Idegchi and McCarthy will be entitled to wonder where their game time comes with the pair among the most vulnerable among the seven possibilities for central midfield roles. Hatate showed in Warsaw he will be in the frame when it comes to the perming that will see two from the Japanese, O’Riley, Turnbull and Mooy miss out match to match.

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Shaking off the cobwebs in this pre-season hasn’t come without concerns over Celtic’s defensive set-up. These were exemplified when, straight after the interval, Maciej Rosołek capitalised on Cameron Carter-Vickers making a hash of dealing with high ball to pounce and steer into corner. A further Celtic lapse in 66 minutes, wherein Jouse was able to clip in a low effort from the edge of area, meant for their fourth straight prepatory encounter Postecoglou’s men conceded at least twice. Middle to front, Celtic are certainly finding them rhythm, but not when it comes to their backline solidity.

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