Celtic produced three goals in the second half to defeat Livingston 3-0 yesterday at the Tony Macaroni arena, as they moved back to the top of the Premiership table.

Following Rangers’ 3-1 win over Hibernian the day before, Brendan Rodgers’ side had to respond, with no room for error ahead of the mammoth Glasgow Derby clash a week later. Despite not getting the breakthrough until the 48th minute, the champions – led by John Kennedy on the touchline – looked well up for the fight. Kyogo Furuhashi worked Shamal George well in the Livingston goal, with his shot producing a good save from the former Liverpool academy player. This was to be the best chance of the match for both sides in the opening 45 minutes, in a half that had very little in terms of goalmouth action to trouble both George and Joe Hart.

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Some good luck was granted to the visitors shortly after the restart, as Jamie Brandon bundled the ball through his own net from a Reo Hatate effort. Following a barrage of attacks on David Martindale’s side, their lead would be doubled through Paulo Bernardo, whose deflected shot from range hit the target. Matt O’Riley would seal the deal – and the points – 10 minutes from time, as his tame shot somehow managed to get past the Livingston goalkeeper, despite George getting a glove on it.

Using StatsBomb data, we at The Celtic Way bring you an in-depth match report like no other…

Race chart + key stats

The match stats made Celtic’s dominance clear in this game. Indeed, 75 per cent possession and 710 attempted passes highlight a team that seems to have mastered their plastic park problems – at least in Livingston.

Judging by the race chart – which takes into account xG totals on shots taken – Celtic were well in control during this game, especially in the second half when all three goals were scored. 0.14 total xG for Livingston illustrates just how toothless the home side was in an attacking sense, with Celtic outperforming their xG total of 1.64. This is probably down to the three goals that were taken all being ‘difficult’ – either to score statistically or track with data - with Brandon’s own goal registering 0.01 in this metric as an example. Celtic’s best chance was from a cross to Kyogo, which George saved at close range.

Using these statistics concerning xG and chance creation, Celtic were calculated as having a 78 per cent chance of winning this contest, with the next most likely scenario being a draw at 20 per cent. The hosts were only given two per cent concerning coming out on top.

Team line-ups, positions and passing

As has been the case for the vast majority of this season, Celtic lined up in their usual 4-3-3 formation. Kyogo led the line for Rodgers’ side, supplied by Daizen Maeda and Kuhn on each side. Tomoki Iwata’s deep position allowed for the returning Hatate to influence proceedings, who was assisted in his efforts by O’Riley. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales operated in the heart of the defence, with Alistair Johnston and Greg Taylor providing width from the back. Hart assumed his usual spot in between the sticks for Celtic. The home side played in a 4-2-3-1 style, akin to Rodgers’ first spell at the club and Neil Lennon’s second tenure as manager.

Looking at the positions of players on the pitch for this game concerning OBV (on-ball values), only the two centre-backs and the goalkeeper were stationed in their own half, which allowed for a front eight to attack Livingston’s goal.

When calculating OBV statistical data, we look at how warm the statistical data presents itself. The warmer the colour, the better the OBV rating. From observing Celtic’s totals, you can see that the right-hand side is carrying the load for the club, especially in this particular game. The trinity of Carter-Vickers, Johnston and Kuhn all have the highest OBV readings, and all are stationed on the right side of the pitch. Because of this lop-sidedness Scales was the only player on the left to post an above-average reading for this metric.

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For actual statistics, Kuhn displayed and proved in OBV numbers that he is Celtic’s form player in an attacking sense. For 26 passes, he scored 0.54 in this metric, by far the best score for both teams. Johnston – an OBV monster this season – was next with 0.35, whilst Carter-Vickers had 0.19.

Not for the first time this season, O’Riley had the most key passes for Celtic, in what was a return to form for the talented midfielder. He had four, whilst Kuhn had three, though the latter’s xG from these passes was higher at 0.60. Maeda and Taylor had two each.


Celtic had 22 shots in yesterday’s game, with 10 testing George in the Livingston goal. As has been the case in recent games, their shot map makes for pleasant viewing, given the volume of chances transpiring inside the home side’s box, especially in the second half. Hopefully, this will bode well for next weekend, against an admittedly stronger team in Philippe Clement’s Rangers.

Looking at Celtic’s top shooters on the day, Kyogo, Hatate and O’Riley led the pack with four each, in what was a trigger-happy day for the club’s attacking players. Of the three, Kyogo’s 0.60 accumulated xG was the highest. Nicolas Kuhn – a standout on the day – had three of his own.

Almost by default, Bernardo scored Celtic’s best goal on the day, aided by a slight deflection from Ayo Obileye’s outstretched leg. The original shot only scored 0.04 in xG, but rose to 0.68 in PSxG, due to both the quality of the strike and the aforementioned deflection which took it beyond the reach of George. An instant impact from the Benfica loanee, who linked up well with O’Riley in the making of this all-important goal.

Pressing and defending

As is expected with more of the ball, Celtic initiated less pressures than their opponents, with the visitors managing 133 to the home side’s 199. Despite this, Celtic managed more regains from pressures than their opponents, at a rate of 31 to 27.

O’Riley led another metric in the form of pressures, with 17 of his own. Scales, Maeda, Kyogo and Taylor all had 13 of their own, as Kuhn and Iwata had 12 and 11 respectively. Iwata led the way in counterpressures with seven, as Scales and O’Riley each had five to their name.

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Kuhn was busy on both ends of the field yesterday, contributing a combined total of five tackles and interceptions, a figure shared by Scales. The latter also had four clearances and 10 aerial duel wins, a commendable total. His defensive partner Carter-Vickers had five and seven in each respective metric, in what was a first clean sheet since beating St Mirren in the Scottish Cup nearly two months ago.

A solid win for Celtic, though bigger tests await them at the end of the week at Ibrox. Still, plenty of cause for optimism, as Rodgers’ side looks primed and ready for the domestic run-in.