Celtic reaction: Kyogo Furuhashi 'relief' amid shoulder issues, Reo Hatate and Liel Abada updates plus Livingston's penalty claim

Rodgers was pleased for Furuhashi to end scoring drought against Livingston

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed Kyogo Furuhashi for persisting through a seven-game scoring drought and a shoulder problem after the Japanese forward bagged the opener in the 2-0 Premiership home win over Livingston.

Furuhashi was on hand to score just a minute into the second period as the league champions broke down stubborn opposition. The 28-year-old relief was plain to see after finding the net for the first time since the 6-0 win over Aberdeen on November 12 and Rodgers was quick to remind that the ex-Vissel Kobe man is only two shy of where he was last term, sitting on ten goals from 19 appearances, while all the while dealing with a shoulder injury that in time could require surgery.

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“You could see relief on his face,” said Rodgers. “He read it well and it was nice for him to get the goal. I think it’s one where there’s probably been frustration when he maybe hasn’t had the ball through or runs behind to allow him to highlight his clever movement. But he’s kept going and persisting. He’s got this shoulder issue but he’s kept working and that’s important.

Kyogo Furuhashi is warmly embraced by his Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after scoring the opener in a 2-0 win over Livingston.Kyogo Furuhashi is warmly embraced by his Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after scoring the opener in a 2-0 win over Livingston.
Kyogo Furuhashi is warmly embraced by his Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers after scoring the opener in a 2-0 win over Livingston.

"He’s just short of where he was last season in goals. Any striker wants to get goals but it’s not just about the striker. A striker can can get 40 goals but it’s no good if other members aren’t contributing. It was nice to get a goal for him and nice to get one from a set-piece. We had more chance to work on that and we need to be much better in that area but we looked a threat.”

Rodgers was naturally pleased for his team to rediscover their winning ways following two league defeats in succession. "It was a very good win,” added Rodgers. “It’s been a tough week on the back of two results. Naturally it’s not been what you want but the players were excellent. From the first whistle the tempo was really good. We could control the game, created lots and the players probably didn’t get what they deserved in terms of a higher scoreline. There were some really good moments and I was delighted with our performance and win.”

Celtic now travel to Dens Park to take on Dundee on Boxing Day before welcoming Rangers on December 30. The manager refused to rule out the possibility of Reo Hatate returning to the squad, with the midfielder close to a recovery from a hamstring tear that has left him sidelined since October. “Possibility but we have to see on that,” Rodgers said on Hatate’s chances of playing before the January break. “He's been on the grass, been working well looks strong and fit just have to assess and weigh up the risk which is the key one.There was also a positive update on Liel Abada, who has been injured for most of the season with his own hamstring problem. “He's getting there as well,” said Rodgers. “We’ll just have to see, he's been out for a little while. For Liel, if it's not for the next few games then certainly the second part of the season. He will be a great help.”

Rodgers’ Livingston counterpart David Martindale lamented the concession of Celtic’s opener just seconds after an impressive first 45 minutes. “The first goal is terrible,” Martindale said. “I'm not saying it's good movement, it’s basics. The centre-half [Luiyi de Lucas] has got him and just walks off him and he sticks the ball in the net after letting [Luis] Palma come inside. It absolutely kills it and gets the fans singing and we lose a quick second and the game is over. We were in a good position half time so to throw it away is really disappointing.”

Martindale also queried whether his team should have been awarded a penalty after the ball appeared to strike Paulo Bernardo’s arm just before the break. “I’d need to see it slowed down,” added the Livi boss. “It’s a handball. They said his hand was inside, but we’re on the iPad and we didn't have chance to zoom in to see whether it’s a shirt line or below. I think it’s hand but whether it’s a pen or not, I couldn’t see.”