Proud Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou declared his team was playing the brand of football his late father loved after the Hoops’ 3-2 Scottish League Cup win over Hearts.
The scoreline at Celtic Park flattered Hearts, with the hosts producing a memorable display, particularly in the first half.
Celtic led 2-0 at half-time through goals from Frenchman Odsonne Edouard and Stephen Welsh.
Hearts cut Celtic’s lead in half in the 57th minute via a Liam Boyce penalty before the home side sealed victory six minutes later through Japanese marksman Kyogo Furuhashi, who was set up by Socceroos playmaker Tom Rogic.
The visitors scored in stoppage time via Aaron McEneff, but it was too little, too late as Celtic advanced to a quarter-final meeting with second-tier Raith Rovers.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half and probably for the first 15 minutes of the second half as well,” former Socceroos boss Postecoglou said.
“I thought that was as well as we’ve played this year. It was really exciting to watch, we were really disciplined in playing our football and created a lot of chances.
“That’s the kind of team we want to be, and we keep reinforcing that to the players. If we can be that sort of side, one that’s relentless with our purpose every time we get the ball and when they have it we do the same, we’re going to be hard to stop.
“Losing the goals, that was down to some fatigue and some lapses in concentration.”
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Postecoglou said his late father would have been “off his chair in the first half especially”.
“That’s the kind of football my father instilled in me,” he said.
“He’s up there now, but I always envisage him in the stands and think about what he’d say about the team.
“He was never raptured by results, he just wanted to see a certain type of football.
“We played great but more importantly the players enjoyed it and they got their rewards.”
The win was Celtic’s fourth successive victory in all competitions.
“We are getting belief in our football and getting rewards from that belief,” Postecoglou said.
“I just want to keep fertilising that to keep us growing as a football team.
“Once they see the possibilities, they commit to it totally and hopefully that encourages them to do it more and keep improving our football.”
Celtic returns to the European stage on Thursday morning (AEST) when they host Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the first leg of a Europa League playoff.
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