Celtic maintained their nine-point lead in the Scottish Premiership after beating Livingston.
Ange Postecoglou’s side bombarded the visitors in the first half, with Greg Taylor scoring the first with a soft strike from the deck and Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi both converting one of a plethora of chances.
The onslaught eased after the break but Celtic took the win, with Livingston’s only real threat coming when Bruce Anderson hit the woodwork from a sharp angle.
Celtic have absolutely smothered their visitors. It was a fantastic and relentless display, especially in the first half, which should have brought more goals.
Livingston struggled to retain possession of the ball, let alone climb upfield to threaten for anything other than a moment in the first half.
It was a one-way street for Celtic, a direct result of their dominance of the ball but instantaneous recovery if they lost it. It was rare.
The first threat came when Jota tried to pass the ball past the pressed Kyogo, but the ball had a little too much weight.
The Portuguese winger then managed to miss a few yards when Maeda showed brilliant pace and balance to send the ball through the penalty area, but there was no connection to the gaping goal.
Just when you thought Livingston was about to frustrate their hosts, Reo Hatate gathered in the box, handed it to Taylor, in a now familiar forward left inside position, and he fired at Shamal George in the corner.
The second followed quickly. Livingston just couldn’t get a decisive clearance and when they finally tried one, the ball shot Maeda and home. His perseverance paid off and Celtic were on the march.
Livingston had a scare on Joe Hart’s almost anonymous goal when Anderson grabbed a slide, but his shot smashed a post and the follow-up fell wide. There ended the threat of Livingston and all hope of a revival.
Celtic’s third was as simple as it was inevitable. Matt O’Riley threw an accurate ball for Kyogo. He had Jack Fitzwater for company, but jumped up and snuck towards the box before netting his 21st goal of the season.
The second half was a procession that lacked the killer touch with Celtic constantly probing and Livingston remaining stoic in adversity.
They held on to stop more damage with the result determined in the opening 45.
Player of the match – Daizen Maeda
Dominant Celtic smothers Livingston – analysis
Postecoglou again suggested recently that he wants his team to finish the season even stronger, something he demanded last season. He once again obtains an answer to this expectation.
Celtic was quite dominant. They went to Livingston early on and, although they took longer than expected to break through, the outcome never looked in doubt. It could and should have been a much larger margin.
Livingston was well organized but lacked any threat other than their one glaring chance that eluded them and their hopes went with it. They will be looking to get back to the form they had after going unbeaten in 2023.
Celtic’s domestic consistency is frightening. No home league defeats under Postecoglou since joining and an unbeaten, almost exclusively winning run since the loss to St Mirren in September has taken them well to the title.
what they said
Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou: “We started the game very well, we knew we would have a lot of ball possession but that’s what we did with it and I thought we were still probing and asking questions.
“In the second half Livingston didn’t really open up so it wasn’t like we were going to have a lot of chances. I always thought we were in control, we just never scored the goal. .”
David Martindale, manager of Livingston: “I was disappointed to be 3-0 down at half-time because apart from the first one I thought they were avoidable goals, but you have to credit Celtic, they put huge pressure on us .
“Ange has his team playing very, very good football. They’re good to watch, must be a good time to be a Celtic fan right now.”
With 14 league matches remaining, Celtic travel to St Johnstone on Sunday (1200 GMT) in a bid to take another step towards retaining their title. Livingston host Kilmarnock the day before (3:00 p.m.) looking to consolidate their position in the top six.