Celtic’s victory over Ferencvaros guarantees them European football after Christmas, be that in the Europa League or the Conference League.
Credit to Ange Postecoglou and his players for recovering from their opening two defeats to win back-to-back games. They are looking good.
A huge part of the Hoops’ success is down to Kyogo Furuhashi. He is an outstanding footballer.
The wee Japanese striker scored in Hungary on Thursday night, and his general contribution was very solid.
I believe he was bought for around £4.5-million, and that is already looking to be a brilliant piece of business.
Ange knew Kyogo from his time in the Japanese J League, and it’s understood the Australian has his eye on one or two others from that part of the world.
To me, that seems to make perfect sense.
Quite clearly, there are bargains to be had over there, and Celtic are on the ball with the opportunities that may be available.
Of course, success brings a glare from elsewhere, and I don’t think any of us would be surprised if Kyogo is already now on the radar of other clubs.
But any interested parties would also know that they are unlikely to receive any encouragement from Celtic about trying to prise their main man away any time soon.
Kyogo is clearly enjoying his football. You can see that with the way he plays, and the way he celebrates scoring with his team-mates.
That’s all part of the overall package, and why I think Celtic look in a very good place just now.
There has been positive progress. Aside from Kyogo, Jota and Liel Abada give them such brilliant options and quality.
I know they lost to Rangers earlier in the season, but I think the manager would have left Ibrox feeling encouraged.
He opted to start the game with Kyogo playing wide left, and it just didn’t work.
When he was moved into the central role, he lit up the game with his pace and movement, and caused Rangers problems. His positional play is very clever.
He is a quality centre-forward, and that is his best position.
The slight concern for Ange will be keeping the player going, and in a good place, between now and the winter break.
There are seven weeks to go before that, and in that time Celtic play two more European ties, a League Cup semi-final and possibly a Final.
They also have crucial league fixtures, including Rangers coming to Parkhead.
If Kyogo can come through this period unscathed, and play a part in it all as the manager sees fit, then Celtic should be looking good for the second half of the season.
In European terms, there is still work to be done for Rangers after their draw with Brondby.
But a home win against Sparta Prague by two clear goals later this month will give them access to the European stage in some shape or form in early 2022.
The return from injury of Ryan Kent was a real positive for Rangers in Denmark. Like Kyogo, he is a matchwinner.
He looked the part again, and the goal he set up for fellow substitute, Ianis Hagi, must also have been very pleasing for Steven Gerrard.
But they all would have been looking to win the game, and their results in Europe this season have not been as good as Steven would have expected.
He will still be targeting European football after Christmas, even though it will put a strain on his squad resources.
Ange Postecoglou will feel the same on that front.
Every manager, player and supporter wants to win every game, and be involved in every competition.
But I think the Premiership title is the priority. Both clubs would take that this season above everything else.
It’s closer to their hearts – and there’s also a huge Champions League pot of money on offer for whoever comes out on top.
That’s why they will place extreme importance on today’s games. Celtic travel to Dundee for a difficult fixture, and Rangers host Ross County.
The league race is tight at the top, and there’s only four points between the Old Firm. It’s exciting.
It will also be a test for every player to see how he copes with the pressure of the next seven weeks. The fixture list is relentless, and plenty is at stake.
But it makes for a fascinating period before the winter break.
My feeling is we won’t be able to take our eyes off of it.
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