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Ange Postecoglou hails his ‘incredible’ Celtic stars


An emotional Ange Postecoglou last night praised his ruthless Celtic side for giving him the easiest job in the world.

Goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Hyeong-gyu Oh claimed a 2–0 victory over ten-man Hearts and retained the SPFL Premiership for a second season; the club’s eleventh title win in 12 years.

Needing one win from their last five league games, a red card for Hearts defender Alex Cochrane at the end of the first half sent the champions through the gears to put the league beyond the reach of closest rivals Rangers.

Victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup final on 3 June would secure the Australian’s first treble as manager – the club’s fifth clean sweep in the last seven years.

“I’m really proud,” said Postecoglou. “It’s just an excellent group of players and staff.

Ange Postecoglou spoke of his pride in achieving back-to-back title wins with the Scottish club

‘After the success of last season you wonder if the hunger will still be there, because it is still a young group. Will they be just as motivated?

“But from the first day of pre-season they came back and wanted to be a better and stronger team.

“They have maintained a ridiculous level of performance this year.

“They’ve just been incredible and I’ve rarely had to intervene to get them back on track.

“I’ve had the easiest job in the world just letting these guys ride how good they want to be.

“The consistency of our football and the goals we’ve scored is about trying to be successful on all fronts.

“We don’t want to take a step backwards in any competition.

“You want that to be rewarded because that’s what keeps them striving to be the best they can be.”

Kyogo Furuhashi scored on Sunday as Celtic Hearts beat 2-0 in Tynecastle

Kyogo Furuhashi scored on Sunday as Celtic Hearts beat 2-0 in Tynecastle

Postecoglou received a rousing ovation from the 1300 away fans in a corner of Tynecastle and confessed he was emotional about his fourth trophy as Celtic manager. Lifting the Scottish Cup would give it five domestic trophies from a possible six.

“I’m emotional because you put a lot into it, you know. I realize that I do what I like.

“I’m pretty good at it, but it doesn’t happen in isolation without the people around you, be it my wife and kids and family and friends or the support I’ve had inside and outside the football club. You also want to pay that back.

“It’s not just about being successful, it’s about giving back to all those people who are willing to support me every day so I can do what I do.

“Everything you do, hard earned and all those sacrifices people make – and the dedication and support they give me – makes you emotional to think about.”

With four games remaining, Celtic travel to Ibrox next weekend in hopes of going an entire league season without losing to their bitter rivals.

Celtic's players celebrate after confirming their title win and staying on course for a treble

Celtic’s players celebrate after confirming their title win and staying on course for a treble

Matches against St Mirren, Hibs and Aberdeen then round out the league campaign before the Hampden final.

The title was a foregone conclusion. Postecoglou admitted that his side’s performance had dropped slightly as they got closer to the line.

“I think we’ve been playing pretty tight in the last couple of weeks, just in emotional terms.

“The guys know they’ve almost accomplished something special and the closer you get, it’s human nature to tighten up a bit. I think that is reflected in our football.

“But during that time, they are still disciplined and work so hard for each other. They never lose focus.

“They just have this determination — they’re winners, mate.”

Five points adrift of Aberdeen in the race for third Hearts intermediate boss Steven Naismith criticized Alex Cochrane’s groundbreaking red card, which saw his team down to ten men in the second half.

The left-back pulled Daizen Maeda back as the Japanese striker continued on goal.

Referee Nick Walsh initially gave a yellow card, but the decision was upgraded to red after an assessment by VAR officer Willie Collum.

‘I do not agree with it. That’s my opinion, but there’s still some work to be done for Maeda as he enters the box.

“He travels at high speed, the ball moves and there are recovering players. I think the referee made the right call and it was disappointing because up to that point in the game we had the best chances.

“The game was mainly played in the Celtic half and we really believed we could get something out of the game. Then it got harder.

“As soon as the red card comes, the game turns to the first goal. It’s that simple.

“Thanks to Celtic, the goal is very good, that’s what they do and you see a lot of their goals come from that same movement.

“Their two goals today come from the same movement, but we worked very hard and when we look back there will be a lot of positives for us.”

Naismith believes Hearts now have two big games ahead of them in the battle for third place against St Mirren and Aberdeen.

“The next two games are the most important of the season and will determine our season.”

“This was going to be our toughest challenge, but we have equipped ourselves well. Before the game I helped, we were going to be aggressive and have our moments and we did.

“We were brave defensively against the best attackers in the league and they never created too many until the red card. There are a lot of things we can get out of it. Numerous positive points.’

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