Celtic held on for a 3-2 win over Livingston on Saturday to earn a vital three points.
A fatigued Odsonne Edouard dropped to the bench and Christopher Julien was left off the teamsheet with a back strain, which opened the door for Albian Ajeti to start up from with a defensive back three of Hatem Elhamed, Shane Duffy, and Kristoffer Ajer.
Livingston opened the scoring after ex-Rangers midfielder Jason Holt fired in a penalty in the 16th minute. The visitors’ lead decomposed quickly thiugh as Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie scored to give Celtic a 2-1 advantage by the 23rd minute.
Ajeti scored his fourth goal in the Hoops to give Celtic the 3-1 advantage in the 52nd minute, a goal which ended up being the match-winner.
Livingston didn’t go away without causing a scare though as Julien Serrano’s powerful strike from distance beat the keeper in the 78th minute and despite some late pressure and a big chance missed from Carlo Pignatiello, Celtic held on to earn three points for the fifth consecutive time.
Celtic’s win on Saturday and the 2-2 draw between Rangers and Hibernian means that Celtic now sit second in the league.
Here are ‘Four Findings’ from Celtic’s win over Livingston.
After going down 1-0, it was important for Celtic to respond quickly. That is exactly what they did. McGregor’s 20th-minute equalizer was quickly followed up by Christie’s 23rd minute go-ahead goal.
If Celtic didn’t respond with a couple of quick goals, this match could have easily been much tenser as Livingston would have set up shop and defended for their lives. By getting a couple of goals, it forced the visitors to not be content with the scoreline.
Taylor's Mixed Performances
There is no doubt that Greg Taylor is a great option for Celtic on the left flank with his ability to put himself into good positions to deliver the ball, however, his service was not great on Saturday. While the former Killie man got an assist on Christie’s goal, he had several other moments where his poor delivery ended a promising attack.
Sometimes Taylor can look like a genius while other times it makes you question how he gets into the Celtic team. If Taylor can manage to be more consistent with his service, then he can easily become a player with real quality that can consistently become a threat against any opposition on the left side. Until then, the ambivalent feelings about him will remain amongst the Celtic support.
The Answer is Ajeti
Albian Ajeti is that he is an instinctive goalscorer. He may not score many goal of the season contenders but he has a great sense for putting the ball in the back of the net.
His playing style fits perfectly to complement the style of a more skilful Odsonne Edouard. Ajeti has now scored four goals in six matches in a Celtic top, which currently is a tie for most in the SPFL.
Defensive issues have arisen since the change of formation to the 3-5-2. It is important for the first choice defenders of Julien, Ajer and Duffy to all get healthy and fit so they can begin to gel together.
After conceding three goals in the last two matches, things will need to improve for this formation to work against better teams.