Celtic maintained their Premiership title charge on Sunday thanks to a late winning goal from Kristoffer Ajer at Pittodrie.
The Norwegian’s 81st-minute strike secured all three points against Aberdeen, who responded to Callum McGregor’s early goal through Ash Taylor in the 27th minute and had several opportunities to nudge in front before Ajer’s decisive moment. [via BBC]
Neil Lennon’s side now have seven league wins in a row and nine in all competitions since the winter break, with an in-game decision by the manager seemingly getting the best out of one man in particular who reached a landmark for the season in that victory.
James Forrest had come under fire from some Celtic supporters over a few recent performances, such as those against Motherwell and Rangers, but he contributed to the match-winning moment as it was his run and pass which set up Ajer for the visitors’ decisive goal. That was the Scotland winger’s 20th assist in all competitions this season for the Hoops, more than anyone else in Lennon’s squad.
The 28-year-old started the game at right wing-back as the Celtic manager utilised the 3-5-2 formation that he has frequently favoured of late and he came close to giving the Hoops an early lead when set up by Leigh Griffiths, only to see his shot beaten away by Joe Lewis. However, the rebound was duly converted to the net by McGregor (as per BBC).
As noted by Sourav Mahanty of thecelticbhoys.com, Lennon switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation in the second half as Aberdeen got on top of the game and that saw Forrest swapping his right wing-back role to instead take up a position on the left flank. Mahanty felt that it was the right call from the manager, saying that a wide attacking role for Forrest “clearly suits him better“.
David Walton of 67hailhail.com also thought that the 28-year-old benefitted from the change of position, feeling that he “did his job as a right wing-back” but “his most telling contribution came up the other end”. Abhinab Ghosh of The 4th Official was impressed with Forrest’s performance, giving him a 6.5 in the player ratings and writing: “He performed his defensive duties well inside his own half and was a decent outlet for Celtic going forward.”
The versatile Hoops man may have come in for flak from some fans in recent weeks and perhaps he only really got going after Lennon’s tactical tweaks at Aberdeen but he still made his presence count and his impressive tally of 20 assists for the season so far shows how valuable an asset he is to the Parkhead club’s squad. It should be quite interesting to see where he lines up on his next Celtic appearance.
Celtic fans, do you think Forrest’s performance at Pittodrie improved after Lennon moved him to the left when adopting 4-2-3-1? Have your say by commenting below!
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