ANGE Postecoglou tonight dismissed suggestions that Daizen Maeda had been “lucky” to score for Celtic in the 3-0 triumph over Livingston at Parkhead that maintained his side's nine point lead over Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership.
Maeda put the Scottish champions two ahead against their West Lothian rivals when opposition defender Ayo Obileye attempted to kick the ball to safety out of his six yard box in the first-half.
The centre half’s clearance struck the forward’s head at close range and spun beyond Livingston goalkeeper Shamal George and into his own net.
But Postecoglou – who was described as “a lucky man” by his Rangers counterpart Michael Beale earlier this season - was tickled when the goal was branded lucky following the final whistle.
The Greek-Australian coach felt that it was a fitting reward for the powerful shift the Japanese internationalist put in for Celtic up front during the one-sided triumph and made light of the description.
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“You love that word don’t you?” he said. “It’s just so easy! How many runs does Daizen make in a game? It was a product of is hard work. Anyone who watches Daizen sees he’s constantly making runs and constantly in those areas.
“There were a couple of times he lacked a bit of composure but he’s always there – that’s why he gets his goals. I’ve known him for a while now and he always get goals.
“Sometimes he gets goals which people will say, for want of a better word, fortuitous. But on the back of him just working his backside off every time we get the ball. He gets his rewards for it.”
Callum McGregor required medical treatment in the first-half after Livingston striker Bruce Anderson fell on top of him and had to come off the park to change his blood-spattered shorts before continuing.
Postecoglou was unsurprised that his captain, who he presented with a framed shirt to mark his 400th appearance before kick-off, had played on. Asked if he was concerned about his skipper when McGregor went down, he said: “I am worried about all of them, mate. I love them all the same. I don’t want any of them to get hurt.
“But we realised fairly early that he had got a bang on the nose and a bit of blood was coming out. But it was nothing to worry about, he was fine.”
“I didn’t ask him (if he had a broken nose), I wouldn’t ask him. If he did he would be up there tomorrow for training, no problem.”
Postecoglou was delighted to see Celtic record their sixth consecutive clean sheet and revealed that stopping opposition teams from scoring against them had been a major focus since club football resumed in December.
“You can get clean sheets in many ways,” he said. “You can get clean sheets when the keeper has saved the ball half a dozen times and it has hit the crossbar and they have missed some great chances. And you can get clean sheets through really strong defensive work and a real commitment to being aggressive in our counter pressing.
“We have been really focused on that probably since the break – to be a strong defensive unit and work hard defensively. That is a product of it.
“It is not just that we are keeping clean sheets, we are stopping the opposition even getting into our half at times and that is because our front players are working hard, our midfielders are working hard and it is backed up by our defenders who are always defending on the front foot.
“That is pleasing for me, yeah. The clean sheets are more a by-product of the stuff we talk about and work on. That is the pleasing bit.”
Meanwhile, Postecoglou was unable to provide any update on Giorgos Giakoumakis, who was absent from the match day squad amid speculation he was set to join Atlanta United in the United States, leaving.
“There is no update,” he said. “The interested markets are not under deadline pressure.”