Celtic have beaten fifth division side Buckie Thistle comfortably, as would have been expected of the Scottish Cup holders. In Celtic’s first game back since the winter break many would have expected to see Brendan Rodgers shuffle the pack, considering the opposition but he went for a very strong starting lineup.
Paulo Bernardo kept up his good run of form as he opened the scoring with a tidy chipped finish. Young Norwegian Odin Thiago Holm got the second, and his first in the Hoops after he was given the nod at the base of the midfield, with Callum McGregor given an extended rest, confirmed by Rodgers. Kyogo got on the end of an inch-perfect Liel Abada cross to give Celtic a three-goal cushion before the break.
Luis Palma opened the second half scoring with a powerful left-footed strike from outside the area. Two of the substitutes combined for the fifth goal, Michael Johnston showed some great skill down the right-side before firing it across for Rocco Vata who got the finishing touch, as he also netted his first senior Celtic goal.
There wouldn’t have been many takeaways for either side considering the massive gulf between the two teams, but here are some of the key pickups:
Paulo Bernardo continues good vein of form
The Benfica loanee put in another fine display as he opened the scoring and now has three goals and two assists across his last four Celtic appearances. Reo Hatate’s injury and now his time at the Asia Cup has allowed Bernardo to flourish with regular minutes alongside Matt O’Riley, who was awarded man of the match and put in another stellar display amid rumours he may leave the club this month. Bernardo would seem like a natural long-term replacement for O’Riley, if the Danish international was to move on. Bernardo’s contributions must be giving Rodgers and the Celtic board something to think about in whether they would want to sign him up on a permanent deal past this summer, as it is believed a fee is already agreed with the Portuguese giants to bring him to Celtic Park permanently. If Bernardo is happy to extend his stay in Glasgow and the fee is right, it would seem like an easy decision for the club.
Maybe Rocco Vata is in Rodgers’ plans after all
Earlier this month, reliable journalist and transfer expert Fabrizio Romano stated Serie A high-flyers Bologna FC were interested in the out of favour Celtic striker. The 18-year-old has impressed as part of the Celtic B set-up but was yet to really make strides as a player for the senior team. A week back, Romano also stated there was strong interest from second-placed Serie B side Como, who could offer the Irishmen guaranteed minutes in appose to Celtic and Bologna’s interests.
This week, Vata’s Celtic career seems to have taken a massive turn, with talks of a contract extension being given to the son of former Celt, Rudi. And to top off, what seems like an incredible turnaround, Vata makes an appearance off the bench and nets his first goal for the club. With Celtic on the look out for a third striker to compliment Kyogo and Oh Hyeon-gyu, could there be an option right under Rodgers’ nose?
Odin Thiago Holm continues his development
Odin Thiago Holm hasn’t had the easiest start to life at Celtic, with a lack of minutes and injuries but performances like this will only benefit his confidence as he seems to be making visible developments towards competing for a regular start at the club.
He put in a very solid shift deputising for club captain, Callum McGregor as he linked play well and took his first Celtic goal confidently. Obviously, Holm is a project player at Celtic, and he is nowhere near the finished article, as he has just turned 21, but in just his three starts for the club it’s evident there is a player there. Holm is very comfortable in possession; he has a great understanding of the game and sees things that a lot of players don’t, only with regular minutes, whether that be off the bench or starts will we get to see the development of his talents at Celtic.