Celtic 3-1 Livingston: Rogic, Edouard & Ntcham score for champions

Celtic 3-1 Livingston: Rogic, Edouard & Ntcham score for champions
Tom Rogic scored eight times for Celtic last term

Celtic began their Scottish Premiership title defence with a comfortable win over promoted Livingston.

The champions eased ahead after eight minutes through Tom Rogic’s looping header from a Jonny Hayes cross.

Odsonne Edouard turned in Olivier Ntcham’s scuffed shot after 26 minutes, and Ntcham added a penalty five minutes after the break.

Scott Robinson scored a consolation for Livingston with the final touch of the match after slack defending.

That goal was not enough to prevent player-manager Kenny Miller suffering defeat in his first league match in charge.

And the outcome was not sufficient to put Celtic top of the table, with Brendan Rodgers’ side behind Hearts on goals scored.

Dominant Celtic follow script

You could have written the script. The Double Treble Scottish champions, on flag day, against newly promoted Livingston. It had mismatch written all over it, and that is exactly what it turned out to be.

It took just eight minutes for the home side to kick-start their league goal tally and it was Rogic, a man known for the spectacular, with the simplest of headers from close range after an inch-perfect cross from Hayes.

It was a matter of when, and not if, for the second. Twenty five minutes was the answer. Celtic sliced the visitors wide open on the counter-attack after a rare foray forward.

Ntcham, Rogic and Edouard linked up superbly and it was Edouard who had the ball laid at his feet for one of the easiest goals he will score.

The third came from the spot shortly after the break. Callum McGregor was bundled over by Declan Gallagher, and after referee Nick Walsh pointed to the penalty spot, Ntcham slotted it away perfectly.

The visitors did not concede again, despite Leigh Griffiths, on his first outing of the season, hitting the post as Celtic remained utterly dominant.

The polish was smudged slightly for Rodgers’ men right at the end when Robinson tapped in after a mix-up in the home side’s defence. That will annoy the Celtic boss, who now turns his attention to Wednesday’s Champions League visit of AEK Athens.

Relatively speaking, the scoreline will be palatable for a Livingston side who must have been fearful of a full-scale thumping. Other teams have suffered much more at the hands of the champions and, given that, there was relief mixed with disappointment in the voice of Miller afterwards.

Livingston player-manager Kenny Miller took just a minute to make an impact on the game

‘Slick, mesmerising & keen to make a point’ – analysis

What will have pleased Rodgers in particular will be the drive and energy he witnessed from his players. Of course, you would have expected that on the opening day, but even when the match looked over as a contest, Celtic continued to swarm forward.

Too often last season the champions won matches by the odd goal with tempo at home sometimes an issue – relatively speaking.

When asked beforehand about what keeps his players hungry, Rodgers pointed to a need to entertain a support that now expects more than just a victory. His players gave him what he wanted.

Passing was slick and movement at times, mesmerising. Ominously for the rest of Scottish football, the Celtic players looked keen to make a point. They pass up every opportunity to discuss the possibility of a treble treble, but if they continue to perform like this, the questions will keep coming.

‘We need to be more streetwise’ – reaction

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: “For large parts we were outstanding. It’s always difficult against an honest team like Livingston who are sat in.

“I thought we scored three very good goals and the only disappointment was right at the end. We need to be a bit more streetwise in that moment

Livingston player-manager Kenny Miller: “The goals we lose are very disappointing. A free header in our box, the second goal is a breakaway from our corner. The penalty, on first look, looks very soft.

“The players didn’t let their heads drop, they stuck to the game plan and worked tirelessly. Everything we know about this group was shown today. The grit, the determination.”

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