• Mon. Mar 6th, 2023

It’s “back to work” for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic, who prepared for a meeting with an Australian-flavoured Hearts outfit with a 5-0 Scottish Premiership thrashing of Kilmarnock.

The Hoops overcame Rugby Park’s unforgiving artificial surface to run riot and maintain their perfect start to the season thanks to goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Moritz Jenz and substitutes Carl Starfelt and Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy was among Celtic’s second-half replacements as he continues to settle in at his new club, which tops the ladder on goal difference from Rangers with nine points from three matches.

“I’m really proud of the fact that there are plenty of excuses for us not to be at our best today, but the boys just stuck at it and got their rewards,” former Socceroos coach Postecoglou said.

“What we see on game day is the result of them working really hard at training and pushing each other.

“(Now) we just get back to our work. It’s that last week we have without midweek games, so it’s really important for us to get another solid week of work into the lads and get them ready for another difficult game next week against Hearts back at home and then move on.”

Hearts – whose match-day squad included Australian starters Kye Rowles and Cameron Devlin, as well as another ex-A-League player in unused substitute Nathaniel Atkinson – also maintained their unbeaten start to the Scottish Premiership season with a 4-1 thrashing of Dundee United.

The loss was the continuation of a tough few day for Dundee United’s Australian pair Mark Birighitti and Aziz Behich, with the Tangerines having been thumped 7-0 last Friday morning (AEST) by Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the second leg of a Europa Conference League qualifier.

The form of ex-Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Birighitti is under particular scrutiny.

Tangerines manager Jack Ross said: “I’ll own the responsibility of the collective, but individually they (the players) need to look at their own performances and where they’re at.

“They’re going to have to show strength of character. They need to find it, and they will find it, but they need to find it quickly.”

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