Ange Postecoglou claims Celtic merited their win over Hearts, despite contentious goal as skipper Callum McGregor calls on team-mates to be more ruthless
The Hoops boss has been left sweating over the fitness of three first-team players
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Ange Postecoglou felt his Celtic side merited all three points against Hearts, despite Kyogo Furuhashi’s contentious front-post finish appearing offside.
Jambos manager Robbie Neilson was left furious by referee Bobby Madden’s decision to allow the goal to stand after Furuhashi nipped in front of defender Craig Halkett to flick home Anthony Ralston’s cross after 33 minutes.
Postecoglou believes his players had further opportunities to kill the game off in the first-half at Parkhead.
He told Celtic TV: “We started the game really well and dominated but we just need to be more ruthless in the final third of the pitch.
“We had good opportunities to score a second and kill the game off and when you don’t do that you keep the opposition in the game and there’s always a chance they might create something.
“Even then, I thought we defended really solidly and Joe (Hart) didn’t have an outstanding save to make, so the players held out well.”
Centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers was a surprise omission from the starting line-up pre-match but the return of Carl Starfelt from a four-week absence boosted the Hoops manager as the Swedish defender slotted back into the side seamlessly.
Midfielder Tom Rogic also returned from a hamstring issue and Postecoglou was delighted with the impact of both players.
He added: “Tommy (Rogic) was great. With him and Carl (Starfelt) coming back in, they’ve both missed a lot of football but they came back in really well.
“The plan wasn’t for Tommy to play the full 90 minutes but injuries to other players meant he had to stay out there but it was great to see him play again.
“Carl was progressing really well before he got injured, so it’s great to have him back in there because he’s a very important part of our team. Hopefully he can kick on now.”
With a further eight matches to play in December, Postecoglou will hope the injuries to Anthony Ralston, Jota and Stephen Welsh, which saw them all withdrawn, are not as bad as initially feared.
Asked for an update on the players forced off through injury, Postecoglou replied: “We’ll get the medical reports done. Tony (Ralston) is probably the one we’re most concerned about, he said he felt something on his ankle.
“We’ll see how they all are and hopefully before Sunday we’ll get some good news.”
Skipper Callum McGregor has called on his team-mates to become more ruthless in front of goal but was pleased to kickstart a busy month with a victory.
He stated: ““It’s the start of a really difficult month, so that’s a huge result for us.
“We were really good in the first-half, we played some great football at a good intensity, everything we were looking to do.
“We just couldn’t get the second goal to try and kill the game at that point and the second half became a bit like a basketball match.
“I think everybody could see how well we were playing. We just need that bit more ruthlessness to put teams away.
“Sometimes you’ve got to grind it out and I thought the boys dug in really well. There’s always periods in the game when the opposition will enjoy a spell of possession and create one or two chances.
“For us, it’s about staying calm and organised and try to win the ball back. We did that well in the last 15 minutes.”