A first victory for the Australian over the West Lothian club in three attempts, and the club’s first at Almondvale in six outings at the arena, it restored Celtic’s three-point lead at the top of the table and marked a return to their dominant form of a month ago. A fact that did not seem lost on Postecoglou.
“It was important to get the win but the manner in which we played and stuck to our principles all over the pitch was good and it was the kind of football that we want to play,” said the Australian. “We have spoken about [keeping the tempo up] a lot. We need to be the ones who generate tempo. It is hard sometimes when the opposition sit deeper but, as good as we were with the ball, I thought we were outstanding today without it. We hunted in packs, we won the ball and we didn’t give them a moment’s rest. They are a big side so if you allow balls into the box then it gives them some threat and our defensive work was excellent. Our football when we had the ball was good. We were patient when we needed to be but we could hurt them when we needed to.
“The players knew it was a challenge today. They went about it the right way and didn’t shy away from it. The boys who came in brought some energy with James [Forrest] and Tom [Rogic], Niro [Nir Bitton] and Tony Ralston. It is the reason we have a strong squad and why we brought players in during the January window. It gives us an opportunity to add to the squad and rotate it without losing anything from our performances. It also means our training is at a good level. It is competitive and when people are asked to play they are ready to take their opportunity which is good for us moving forward. If we have the ability to change things during games it will help us. People have said we haven’t been exhilarating in terms of our football every game but you cannot question their resilience. When we have had to find something we have found something. The fact we missed the penalty wasn’t going to stop us continuing and trying to be relentless and playing our football. Credit to them.”