It is perhaps not unfair to suggest that Luis Palma splits opinion among many.

The Honduras international, who signed for Celtic from Aris FC in Greece last summer, has been a divisive figure, who can infuriate, amaze, impress and baffle those who watch him when he plays for the Scottish champions. Essentially signed as star winger Jota’s replacement following the Portuguese wide-man’s move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad, Palma has been up and down this season concerning form.

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Despite this, his numbers have been fairly consistent since joining the side back in September last year. At present, he has eight goals and 10 assists in 27 appearances, displaying an ability to both score and assist when opportunities come his way. This was the case against St Mirren in Paisley last weekend, as Celtic’s number seven was involved in both of his side’s goals, in turn playing a massive part in their progression to the next round of the Scottish Cup.

Using Wyscout, The Celtic Way dissects Palma’s positive performance in detail, as the talented winger got back to his best with a strong attacking performance against the Buddies…

Kyogo goal (15’)

An entertaining cup tie took place on Sunday, with both Premiership sides looking to put their name in the hat for the next round of the competition. Palma – restored to the side after being benched against Hibernian – looked in the mood to cause bother to the hosts’ back-line, with this goal in the 15th minute a perfect example of that.

Although pivotal in the end result, Palma was perhaps upstaged by his captain in the lead-up to the opening goal in Paisley. Following an impressive interception from Anthony Ralston to stop an attack from the home side, the right-back passed the ball to Callum McGregor in the middle of the park. Already showing signs of a return to form early on in proceedings, this contribution would be further proof of the skipper’s return to his usual efficient self.

In seconds, McGregor swivelled goal-side and played a pass into the wide area where Palma was situated. Tracked by a St Mirren defender, Palma had a race on his hands, though he found himself in a promising position thanks to the accuracy of the pass. McGregor had broken the line of the St Mirren defence, with Palma and Kyogo Furuhashi set to profit from this incisive pass.

A few moments later, Palma was in pole position to make a real impact down his side of the pitch. Just behind him, Kyogo was looking to make a late run into space, with Adam Idah leading the line in his place. With time and space on his side, Palma’s position here is an unfamiliar one for the winger, thanks to the usual low-block opposition he has faced for most of this season. Despite his sketchy form, you felt that something was going to come of this attack, given how much time he had to influence proceedings thanks to the sharpness of his movement.

Although his marker had caught up with him, Palma was in a brilliant position to send in a delivery into the box. Spoiled for choice, the winger had both Idah and Kyogo to work with concerning a crossed ball. Would he play a ball into the box for Idah to meet? Or would he cut it back to the oncoming Kyogo, who had not scored in the league since the team returned from their winter break? As the circle above suggests, it would be the Japan international that Palma elected to go for, and thankfully his delivery was a good one. By not cutting in, he took the opposing defenders by surprise, with his teammate only too happy to work with this pinpoint delivery...

Meeting the ball just outside of the box, Kyogo’s finish was a strong one. Aided by a slight deflection off the foot of the St Mirren defender, it was enough to beat Zach Hemming in the host’s goal. His 10th assist this campaign, Palma was the all-important architect of this opener, signalling his return to form in a good and timely way. Although this would be his only statistical contribution in terms of assists, he would be front and centre for Celtic’s next goal, in what was a productive day for the sometimes temperamental winger.

Maeda goal (53’)

As stated before, you will not find this contribution on any stat lines or metrical data pieces, though it is important to point out a great delivery when a player produces one. What was still a close cup tie when this transpired, Palma again showed the quality required to unlock St Mirren’s defence, something he needs to display on a more consistent basis.

Alexandro Bernabei – one of Celtic’s best performers on the day – had plenty of space to operate, with the left-back essentially unmarked alongside Palma on their side of the park. Playing a pass to his winger, Bernabei further displayed his growing use to Rodgers’ side by getting the ball out of his feet early to Palma, who will be entrusted to provide the goods for his fellow attackers from the wing.

This was not to be the only meaningful contribution that Bernabei would make to the game, as his overlap would provide the space needed for Palma to deliver the ball into the box. A very willing runner, the Argentina defender’s movement eliminated the double team that was implemented on Celtic’s number seven by the home side. Thanks to this, Palma now had some room to manoeuvre a positive action…

Whipping a looping ball into the area, Palma’s cross was met by Matt O’Riley, who struck the woodwork with his effort. A cruel way to miss out on a second goal contribution of the game for the player, especially as Daizen Maeda was there in the box to sweep up the rebound. Palma’s celebration after the ball hit the back of Hemming’s net suggested that he was not too disappointed with his lack of an assist in this move, displaying a team ethic that Rodgers will value from the Honduran.


As mentioned before, Palma is a player who will annoy many, especially due to his undoubted talent for scoring and producing goals for himself and his teammates. Much like Rodgers spoke about the negative “narrative” surrounding the club, there has been a viewpoint that Palma has not been pulling his weight in recent games, compounded by his double penalty miss just a few weeks ago.

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The winger will be hoping that both his assist and his good work leading up to Celtic’s second goal of the afternoon will be enough to kickstart his largely impressive debut season at the club. This showing will no doubt be welcomed by both the player and his manager, one that the pair can work on in the weeks and months ahead as we get into the business end of the season.