Celtic easily dispatched St Mirren 3-0 in the Scottish Premiership, as they entered the winter break with a maximum 12 points in the festive period.

In a game where the visitors had to win to keep the gap to eight points between themselves and Rangers, they went about it the right way from the off, as Daizen Maeda opened the scoring within 60 seconds, following a great distribution from Matt O'Riley. The Denmark international  himself would get on the scoresheet, this time assisted by Paulo Bernardo, as his sensational season continues. The Scottish champions would continue to threaten for the whole half, with their job being made a lot easier thanks to the sending off of Toyosi Olusanya following a VAR review

Into the second half, and Celtic continued to pressure their opponents, who struggled to get any foothold in the game following that stoppage-time dismissal. It should have been 3-0, as Yang Hyun-jun played a lovely ball into the path of Bernardo, whose shot was expertly saved by Zach Hemming. Seconds later, Brendan Rodgers' men did extend their lead though, as Bernardo found Greg Taylor, who dispatched his close-range strike with expert precision. Despite having a multitude of opportunities, the game finished at 3-0, in a comfortable evening for the champions.

Rodgers made just one change for Celtic in this game, as Mark Nawrocki made his first start for the club since August, replacing Stephen Welsh, who was injured during Saturday's Glasgow Derby against Rangers. Scales played alongside the Polish defender at the back, whilst Taylor and Johnston supported both from their respective sides. Kyogo Furuhashi led the line from the off, whilst Luis Palma and Maeda supported him on each wing. Bernardo - fresh off the back of two goals in a week, played alongside captain Callum McGregor and O'Riley in the Celtic midfield. 

With all of that being said, what did The Celtic Way make of proceedings in Paisley? TCW's Ryan McGinlay has his say...

Phenomenal festive form

After the euphoria of Saturday’s Glasgow Derby victory, Celtic knew that complacency or dropped points would not be welcomed in their next match. Thankfully, due to their quick start, they never looked like really being in danger during proceedings whatsoever. This was compounded by the red card to Olusanya, which effectively ended the game as a contest in truth. Still, Rodgers will not care one jot, as he and his team managed to pick up a maximum of 12 points from 12 during a tough festive fixture list. Looking back just over two weeks ago at the 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Celtic Park, the side have done so well to turn this domestic season around so quickly, especially over the past two games. No two ways about it, a trip to St Mirren is a difficult task, regardless of the opposition and the current form of both sides. Stephen Robinson’s side had just beat Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie, so they were very much a team on the up. It must be underlined that Celtic’s two-goal lead was created well before the unfortunate sending off of Olusanya, when all 22 men were present and accounted for on the park. They added to their lead after the restart from Taylor, though the result was not in any doubt after just 10 minutes of play, the additional strikes purely academical in the grand scheme of things.

Magic Matt O'Riley

One might be at risk of sounding a bit of a broken record this season, but O’Riley once again stamped his authority all over this game. There was no need to shake off any New Year cobwebs, as the Danish international was at it from the off in this game. Acknowledging the run made from Maeda on the right, O’Riley played it into the Asia Cup call-up, who made no mistake in dispatching the opportunity presented to him. A few minutes later he got one of his own, thanks to a lovely lay-off from Bernardo after great work from Palma down the left. In a season where he seems to be scoring or assisting in most games, he got both in under 10 minutes for his side. A constant thorn in the side of any team he comes up against, the attacking midfielder was a threat every time he got a hold of the ball, causing havoc to yet another Scottish Premiership side. Following a slight dip in form, O’Riley may perhaps think that the winter break may be coming at a bad time for his form, but the break will do him the world of good, all the same. Celtic’s standout attacking force this season, he will be a difficult player to replace if/when he does decide to depart for pastures new this summer. 20 goal contributions and counting for Celtic’s dynamic Dane, who continues to shine under the watchful eye of Rodgers at the helm.

Brilliant Bernardo contributes again

There seems to be a competition recently in the midfield surrounding who can contribute the most goal contributions at Celtic, as Bernardo has joined the party as a viable option with both goals and assists. The latter were on the menu for the Portugal under-21 international, who directly contributed to both O’Riley and Taylor’s converted strikes. Ever since his start against Livingston following those two consecutive defeats, no one has been able to displace him in the team. With good reason, as his goal contributions have been consistent, especially over the past three outings for the 21-year-old. If he continues to show these levels – especially after the winter break – then there may be an easy decision for Celtic to make concerning his option to buy in his loan deal. Strong, good on the ball and a threat in attacking areas, Bernardo is morphing into a very dependable option for Celtic in the engine room of midfield. With Reo Hatate now back and available, he faces elite competition in that number eight role for the club. Even if he does get displaced in the fullness of time by the Japan midfielder, he will remain a key player, who is now trusted by his manager in domestic competition.

Reo returns

What a joy it was to see Hatate back on the field once again. It has been a stop-start season for the midfielder, who had to break into Rodgers’ side over David Turnbull, followed by two injuries that have kept him out a large volume of matches. As Hatate was warming up, the Celtic support sang in appreciation of their number 41, who is scheduled to travel to Qatar to meet up with his Japan teammates ahead of the Asia Cup. Still, this sole appearance was a positive in a day full of them for the visitors to Paisley, as Hatate looked to find his range and match fitness once again. To begin with, he had a low shot which was deflected wide of Hemming’s goal. Due to the situation of the second half with Celtic having more men on the park then their opponents, it was an easy game for Hatate to ease himself back into, which will no doubt please the Japan manager ahead of this month’s competition in the east. He will be an important player in the second half of the season if he can keep himself fit and ready. Another weapon in the arsenal of Celtic’s armoury for Rodgers to use and improve.

Nice from Nawrocki

It was a first start for the Poland defender since August, in that ill-fated League Cup exit to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Nawrocki has certainly had to bide his time since returning to full fitness, with his manager admitting that there had been some small setbacks along the way in his recovery from a nasty hamstring tear. His first appearance – a quality and assured performance against Rangers last Saturday – excited many, thus he was given the chance to play from the off following Welsh’s shoulder injury sustained versus Rangers. One thing that immediately stood out was the defender’s admiration for a sliding tackle, which he showed off early in proceedings. Perhaps a slight cause for early concern is how many times he seems to be out-muscled, particularly against more physical attackers in games. Despite this, Nawrocki looked good in possession regularly finding players in more forward positions with ease during the game. Thanks to the sending-off, Nawrocki’s task as a defender was made easier due to the man advantage, though he was hardly tested in the first half at all in all honesty. The only thing going against the towering defender was complacency at this stage, as the game was effectively over as a contest. He can be happy with his contribution, keeping out the advances of St Mirren during his time on the field. He was replaced by Gustaf Lagerbielke 10 minutes after half time, as Rodgers looked to shuffle the pack and give other players game-time ahead of the winter break.