Unsung Hero: Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer continues right-back renaissance with roving display against Hearts

Unsung Hero: Celtic’s Kristoffer Ajer continues right-back renaissance with roving display against Hearts

Celtic will go into next weekend’s Old Firm derby on top of the Scottish Premiership after beating Hearts 3-1 yesterday to stay ahead of Rangers on goal difference.

Two goals from Vakoun Bayo either side of one for Callum McGregor ensured that the Hoops would preserve their 100% start to the league season ahead of the derby. [via BBC]

Bayo, who was making his first start for Celtic, nudged the ball over the line from James Forrest’s cross for the opening goal on 29 minutes, although Hearts defender Christophe Berra may also have got a touch on it. [via BBC]

McGregor doubled Celtic’s lead early in the second half with a powerful shot from 25 yards that sailed beyond opposition goalkeeper Joel Pereira. [via BBC]

A few minutes later, Bayo scored his second of the afternoon when he cut across Hearts’ Craig Halkett to dispatch Kristoffer Ajer’s cross to the net. [via BBC]

The visitors registered a late consolation goal when Conor Washington scored from the rebound after Fraser Forster saved his penalty. [via BBC]

It was a day to remember for Bayo, who had previously had just eight minutes of game-time for Celtic in three substitute appearances and hadn’t scored for the club until yesterday. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]

Another man who can feel pleased with his performance against Hearts was Ajer, who continues to deputise with ease at right-back in the injury-enforced absence of Hatem Abd Elhamed.

While the Norway international has spent most of his career in the centre of defence, he had already started five games at right-back this season prior to yesterday, including the 2-0 win over AIK last Thursday.

Ajer had been noted for his frequent forays upfield in that game and that attribute again came to the fore yesterday, as Hearts found out to their cost when he whipped in the cross for Bayo’s second goal.

Sourav Mahanty of The Celtic Bhoys said that the 21-year-old “bombarded down the right flank” and “did brilliantly throughout the game” in a role with which he is becoming more familiar.

For 67hailhail.com, John McGinley gave Ajer a nine rating, saying that he “constantly probed and provided an outlet for cross-field balls” and adding that “he’s rapidly becoming the best right-back we’ve had for a number of years.

Even with Abd Elhamed out of action and natural right-back Anthony Ralston largely unused, Ajer’s latest roving full-back performance is another step towards possibly making that position his own in the long-term.

Celtic fans, what did you make of Ajer’s performance against Hearts yesterday? Comment below with your thoughts!

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