Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised Kyogo Furuhashi for his persistence as the Japan striker ended a seven-game goal drought to send the champions on their way to a 2-0 win over Livingston.
Furuhashi got on the end of Luis Palma’s curling effort to net the opener from close range 25 seconds into the second half, before defender Liam Scales headed home the Honduran winger’s corner five minutes later.
It was the 28-year-old striker’s 10th goal of the campaign but only the second in 13 matches for a player who struck 34 times last season.
Rodgers, whose team went five points clear in the cinch Premiership, said: “I think he’s three goals short of where he was last season but for me it’s more important for the team.
“But attacking players, their job is to create and score. You could see relief on his face.
“He read it well and it was nice for him to get the goal because he had other chances which didn’t quite drop but from the team point of view it’s what we needed.
“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.
“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 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.”
The Green Brigade fans group were back inside Celtic Park after a recent ban and the atmosphere was back to normal as well as the team’s display after they suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time in a decade.
Rodgers said: “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.”
Livingston manager David Martindale bemoaned his side’s start to the second half after his side defended brilliantly in the first half.
“The way we started is criminal, terrible,” he said. “The first goal is shocking from our point of view. I’m not saying it’s good movement, it’s basics. Centre-half has got him, Kyogo just walks off him and stick the ball in the net after letting Palma come inside.
“Big Luiyi (de Lucas) has to do better. The movement wasn’t great but I think I could defend it. It was naivety and ability. They’re at Celtic for a reason. Big Luiyi is at Livingston for a reason.”
Martindale lost Tom Parkes to a head injury late in the first half after the defender had produced three-goal saving interventions before getting in the way of a powerful Cameron Carter-Vickers strike.
The Livi manager said: “He was in a bad way when he came off but he’s better now. If Parksey was there that first goal doesn’t happen.”