Celtic were at their imperious best on Sunday, turning on the style in the capital with a 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were in the mood to put on a show and did not take long to make their presence felt on the scoreline thanks to Matt O’Riley, who expertly dispatched an accurate cross by Luis Palma first-time on the volley. They would double their lead 19 minutes later through Daizen Maeda, going in at the break two-nil up.

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They had the chance to make it three almost immediately after the restart, as Kyogo Furuhashi was adjudged to be taken down in the box by Alex Cochrane. Reo Hatate stepped up and missed the subsequent spot-kick, though he made amends just a few minutes later in the lead-up to Celtic’s third of the afternoon. Following good work by the Japan midfielder and Palma, the ball ricocheted its way to Kyogo, who made no mistake in dispatching his chance.

Hearts struck back though with a well-taken Lawrence Shankland goal, intercepting Maeda’s loose pass, but Tomoki Iwata’s stunning strike 10 minutes from full-time sealed the victory for the champions.

Rodgers named an unchanged team from the side that defeated Kilmarnock 3-1 over two weeks prior. Palma was fancied ahead of Yang Hyun-jun on the wing, and Liam Scales continued his starting streak, with Nat Phillips and Iwata the defensive cover on the bench. It was an unchanged midfield, as Callum McGregor, Hatate and O’Riley continued to feature from the start for Rodgers’ new-look Celtic side.

Here, The Celtic Way rounds up the best StatsBomb data to give you a match report like no other…

xG trendline

You could have forgiven the players if they started this game slowly, given how far some of them had to travel following the international break. However, it was clear that Celtic’s players were in no mood to accept this excuse, as they were at it from the off in this game. O’Riley spoke about “silencing the crowd” in his post-match interview, and that is certainly what he did in the fourth minute with Celtic’s opening chance.

Greg Taylor distributes the ball out to Palma, who shuffles with it past his marker. He accurately pings a floated cross over to O’Riley, who only has one thing on his mind. Watching the flight of the ball for the duration, Celtic’s star man times his shot perfectly, with the clean strike leaving Zander Clark with no chance in the Hearts goal. The xG score (0.14) highlights the difficulty of this chance, with O’Riley’s PSxG skyrocketing up to 0.68 once contact had been made, indicating how cleanly and sweetly the Dane connected with Palma’s delivery. Celtic were in control and looked up for it from the get-go.

Cameron Carter-Vickers was next to get a chance, with his header from a free-kick blocked by Kye Rowles (0.05 xG). Kenneth Vargas and Frankie Kent both had small chances for the home side, but both were speculative (0.06 combined xG). Taylor, Maeda and McGregor were next to threaten Hearts’ goal, though their chances were dealt with too (0.13 combined xG), before Vargas had another chance, which was blocked by Hatate (0.01 xG). Indeed, Palma’s wayward shot was to be the last chance squandered by the away side, who made their dominance pay through his opposite winger…

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The assister Hatate started off this goal by accurately picking out O’Riley, who had moved into the wide position. After playing this ball, the ever-impressive elected to move into space, giving his receiver an option by running into the danger zone. O’Riley is willing to accept this option, and played a cutting pass into Hatate’s feet, who finds his Japan teammate in Maeda with a tap-in thanks to an accurate cutback. Maeda is capable of missing big chances – he has previous in that regard – but there was no way he was not converting here. His xG was a massive 0.93 originally, but got to the maximum PSxG of 1.00, thanks to the conversion and the goalkeeper being nowhere near him to save the shot. The away side was cruising, and the home fans were heading for the exits.

That is not to say that Hearts did not have chances in the game – they did – but they didn’t take them. Defender Toby Sibbick had the final opportunity of the first half, with his header from a corner saved comfortably by Joe Hart (0.06 xG). 2-0 did not flatter Celtic, with the side knowing there was potential for more goals following the restart.

This thought was quickly manifested into reality, as Celtic had a chance to extend their lead through the penalty spot. Kyogo was taken down in the box by Cochrane, who had a torrid afternoon up against both him and Maeda, and the referee pointed to the spot. Hatate – after a long run-up – struck the ball and hit the post, with Hearts feeling that justice was served following the softness of the contact on Kyogo. 0.78 xG was the score for Hatate, who could have gone into his shell following the penalty miss, though the busy midfielder instead was instrumental in Celtic scoring their third just minutes later.

There is a reason why Hatate will continue to get picked by Celtic, with moments of magic effectively sealing his place despite his mistakes made in-game. You take the rough with the smooth, and Hatate was very smooth in the build-up to this goal. He was given the ball by Scales, and audaciously back-heels it to Palma, who was only too willing to progress the play on the left-hand side. The Honduran played the ball into space, with the cross finding its way to O’Riley and then Kyogo, who made no mistake from inside the box. Another well-worked goal from the visitors, despite Kyogo’s xG of 0.53 lowering to 0.38 in PSxG, though the power of the strike meant Clark had no chance, despite him being placed well enough to potentially deal with it.

Maeda and Hatate were next to threaten, though the score remained at three-nil for the time being. (0.15 combined xG).

Following this chance, it would be the home side that would rally for the next 15 minutes, with Hearts having seven chances to Celtic’s two in that period. Shankland would pull a goal back for them in this spell, capitalising on a loose pass by Maeda, as the Scotland international continued his fine goalscoring habit against Celtic, especially at home. 0.07 rose to 0.63 in xG thanks to the quality of the strike, which hit off of Hart’s far post and crept into the net. Hearts had a small foothold and were looking to get back into the game.

Following this, it was the Forrest show, as both brothers James and Alan had chances for either side in the match. Shankland had another big opportunity, scoring 0.24 in xG, though his shot went wide. This was to be Hearts’ last chance at this stage of the game, as Celtic would go on to regain their three-goal lead shortly after.

Following chances by Yang and Oh Hyeon-gyu – as well as Forrest again – it would be Iwata that would take goalscoring matters into his own hands, in what was his first goal for the club since arriving in January.

Incorrectly awarded the goal by StatsBomb, Yang did not score this chance. Instead, it was the former Yokohama F Marinos man who broke his duck on the day. Yang’s countryman Oh will be kicking himself at how he did not convert on the day, but Iwata showed him how it was done with a stunning strike. Following Oh’s blocked shot, Kent flings a lazy leg out to get the ball away, which kindly falls to Iwata. He puts his laces through the ball and curls it into the far corner, hitting the bar and then the post before finding the net. Such is the quality of the strike, the 0.07 xG surged to 0.87 once the ball left Iwata’s feet. This is how you make an impact off of the bench.

Oh had another high-scoring chance with regard to xG (0.52), but his shot was saved by Clark, who kept the score down on the day. Yutaro Oda and Liam Boyce had half-chances for the home side, but the game was over as a contest by this point (0.08 xG combined).

Celtic had 19 shots in this game, with seven of them being on target at an accumulated xG of 3.77. The shot map makes for pleasant viewing and reading, as most of Celtic’s shots occur in and around the opponent’s box. All of the side’s high-xG shots occur around the centre of the danger zone, indicating smartness and efficiency in Rodgers’ attack. In the league this season, Celtic take an average of 18 shots per game, which indicates a thriving forward line and that attacking fluidity is there for all to see.

Despite the scoreline, Hearts had 13 shots, with six of them being on target at a cumulative xG of 0.68. Their shot map shows a tendency to attack from the right, though many of their chances had low xG values in truth. Their goal came from outside of the box, with Shankland’s later chance statistically their best opening in terms of xG in the match. Hearts take on average 14.11 shots per game, showing that if they can manage 13 against the best team in the country then goals will follow, especially against so-called lesser teams in the league.

It was a tie between Hatate and Maeda for Celtic’s top shooter in the game, though the latter had a higher xG of 1.06, thanks to the former’s assist. Oh had three whilst fellow substitute Forrest had two, as both can count themselves unlucky they did not get themselves on the scoresheet. Yang had one shot, as he has incorrectly been given Iwata’s goal by StatsBomb.

For Hearts, their top shooter was unsurprisingly Shankland, scoring one of his three shots with an overall xG of 0.32. Vargas and Forrest had two.

Possession, passing and positions

As is very often the case, Celtic enjoyed the majority of possession in this game. They had 57 per cent of the ball, completing 499 of their 628 attempted passes at a success rate of 79 per cent. Hearts had the remaining 43 per cent, with a pass rate of 74 per cent, completing 350 of their 472 distributions.

The passing network gives a rough idea of where the majority of the game was played and who was the most involved. Remember that the warmer the colour, the more influential the player was in the game, and the thicker the passing lines, the more passes between the players.

StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown of which can be read here).

The passing networks for both teams in both the first and second half indicate how the game changed in terms of what transpired. Unsurprisingly, the standout player in the opening 45 minutes was Hatate, as he was the only player to post a red colouring with regard to his OBV. Palma, O’Riley and Carter-Vickers were trying to make things happen on the ball too, though Kyogo looked a bit isolated in terms of his position. Hearts’ OBV postings for the first half were uninspiring, indicating their lack of effectiveness on the ball and distributing it around. Alex Lowry and Rowles were the only players not to have a blue OBV shading.

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Following the restart, you can clearly see the improvements made by the team with their decision-making on the ball. It was the wide players that impressed most in terms of OBV, with Palma, Forrest, Maeda, Taylor and Alistair Johnston all posting good OBV scores during this half. Iwata was the best-performing midfielder in this regard. The home side’s Sibbick was the only standout on the ball in this period, as the defender posted an amber-coloured OBV total.

When looking at OBV statistics, Celtic’s most effective performer in the match was Hatate, with 0.68 from 28 passes, with his Japanese counterpart not far behind him on 0.63 for his 14 distributions. Palma and Taylor also had impressive showings, with 0.31 and 0.25 respectively in OBV. Despite his goal, Kyogo was the only player to post a negative OBV, with his 10 passes scoring -0.06 in this metric.

As mentioned, Sibbick was Hearts’ best performer for OBV, scoring 0.18 in 26 passes. Like Kyogo, Shankland scored but scored a negative OBV, with his 12 passes accumulating -0.17, the lowest of both teams.

In what is a regular occurrence, O’Riley was Celtic’s joint-top passer in the game, with three key passes to his name. He may have competition arriving, as Palma also had three of them, with the winger scoring an xG accumulation of 0.28 to O’Riley’s 0.10. Hatate had the highest pass xG, though, with 0.98 coming from his two key passes.

In the case of the home side, three players were tied for two key passes each in Jorge Grant, Beni Baningime and Calem Nieuwenhof, with Grant scoring the highest xG at just 0.08.

Pressing and defending

Celtic initiated 209 pressures to Hearts’ 226, and regained the ball 36 times, compared to the hosts’ 39 regains.

Always near the top, Maeda led the way for both teams in pressures with 30 in the match. Johnston and O’Riley had 23 and 19. Lowry led the way for Hearts with 24, whilst Forrest had 23 along with Cammy Devlin. For counterpressures it was Devlin who led the game with 11, though Maeda again had the most for Celtic at seven.

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On the defensive end for Celtic in terms of statistics, Maeda again led from the front, with a total of six total tackles and interceptions. Hatate and Carter-Vickers had four. Scales had six clearances and five aerial wins, whilst his defensive partner had four and eight respectively.

Hearts’ top defensive performers were Devlin and Cochrane, who had nine and eight tackles and interceptions respectively. Kent had 10 clearances, whilst Rowles and Shankland won four aerial duels each.