Yang Hyun-joon made his Celtic League debut as a second-half substitute as the Hoops won their opening game.
Celtic won 4-2 against Ross County in the first round of the Scottish Premiership at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday (Sept. 5).
Celtic, who have now won eight of their last eight games against opening day opponents Ross County, also defeated the Hoops to take three points from their first match of the season. They will start the season in first place.
Celtic started Joe Hart in goal, with Anthony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Mike Navroski, and Greg Taylor in the defense.
In midfield, Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, and Matthew O’Reilly combined. The front three of Riel Abada, Daizen Maeda, and Kyogo Furuhashi were in front of the Ross County goal.
Oh Hyun-gyu, Yang Hyun-joon, and Kwon Hyuk-gyu were all named to the substitutes’ bench, with only Yang Hyun-joon coming on as a late substitute.
Ross County started Ross Ridlow in goal, with George Harmon, Jack Baldwin, and Will Nightingale in the back three. The wing-backs were Josh Sims and Connor Randall, while the midfield was made up of Victor Roturi, James Brown, and Jan Dahaga. In the front two spots, Simon Murray and Jordan White led the attack.
It was Ross County, not defending champions Celtic, who pressed early in the first half. In the 14th minute, Joe Hart made a mistake in receiving the ball and Simon Murray used the pressure to win the ball, but he couldn’t finish and the ball was cleared off the goal line.
Celtic took advantage of a mistake in the Ross County defense. In the 16th minute, Sims made a hasty tackle as Taylor won the ball inside the penalty box, conceding a penalty kick. Turnbull stepped up to take the spot kick and finished with precision to give Celtic the lead.
Celtic added a second goal early on. In the 26th minute, on a counter-attack, Abada won the ball near the side of the penalty box and sent a low, quick cross to the onrushing Furuhashi, who slotted it home with his right foot for his second goal of the season.
In the 37th minute, a penetrating pass from Furuhashi gave Turnbull a one-on-one chance with the keeper, but he was denied by a good save, and he also had a second chance to finish off the bouncing ball.
Celtic eventually added a third goal to increase their lead over Ross County. In the 42nd minute, O’Reilly’s cross from just outside the box was met by Turnbull, who slotted home a right-footed shot into the Ross County net to complete his multi-goal haul. The first half ended with Celtic leading 3-0.
Celtic pressed Ross County in the early stages of the second half, but Ross County responded with a goal from a set piece. In the 15th minute of the second half, White headed in a ball from a corner kick, and the high ball sailed over the head of Furuhashi, who was standing in front of the goal, and rattled the Celtic net.
Celtic fought back. In the 27th minute, Furuhashi’s roving pass perfectly deceived the Ross County defense before finding O’Reilly, who finished with a powerful right-footed shot across the face of the Ross County goal to extend the lead back to three goals.
Celtic made two changes in the 34th minute, bringing on James Forrest for the injured Abada and Furuhashi.
Ross County got one last goal in stoppage time when Brown’s left-footed shot deflected off a defender, but the pendulum had swung too far in favor of Celtic, and the game ended 4-2 in their favor.
Yang Hyun-joon played the full 20 minutes and looked to make a mark on his Scottish Premiership debut with his lively movement and dribbling on the right flank, as well as his active involvement in defense. Oh Hyun-kyu and Kwon Hyuk-kyu, who were unavailable, will be looking to make their league debuts in the next game.
By securing a win on the opening day, Celtic have taken the first step towards a strong performance this season. After winning the league, Scottish Cup, and League Cup last season under manager Angie Postecoglou, en route to their eighth triple treble, the Hoops are ready for a fresh start this season under new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Former Leicester City boss Rodgers was sacked midway through the 2022/23 season following a poor run of form, while former Celtic boss Postecoglou took over the reins at Tottenham.
Rodgers had previously managed Celtic from 2016 to 2019, when he led the Hoops to the Domestic Treble in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons.
One of the reasons why Celtic’s matches will be highly anticipated from the opening whistle is the presence of three South Korean players, Oh Hyun-gyu, who joined the Hoops in the winter transfer window, and Yang Hyun-joon and Kwon Hyuk-kyu, who joined the club this summer.
Celtic have already made good on their Asian signings in 2021, with Japanese players Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda, and Leo Hatate joining the squad, with Furuhashi and Maeda playing key roles in Celtic’s attack and helping them to the treble last season.
With their success in Japan, Celtic have now turned their attention to South Korea. First up was Oh Hyun-gyu in the winter transfer window for the 2022/23 season.
After a breakout season with Suwon Samsung, Oh settled in quickly at Celtic. He scored seven goals in just half the season. The striker spot was already firmly in the hands of Japanese striker Kyogo Furuhashi, so he was mainly used as a late substitute, but his purity of goal scoring helped Celtic win the treble.
In the summer transfer window, the club added Yang Hyun-joon from Gangwon FC and Kwon Hyuk-gyu from Busan I-Park, giving them a whopping three Korean players on the roster.
This is the first time since Goo Ja-cheol, Hong Jung-ho, and Ji Dong-won played for Augsburg (Germany) that three Koreans have played together in a European league. Oh Hyun-gyu and Kwon Hyuk-kyu played together at Gimcheon Commerce during their military service. Oh and Yang are also known for their close friendship.
“We are delighted to announce that highly-rated South Korean player Yang Hyun-jun has joined the club on a five-year contract,” said the club on the signing of Yang. “The 21-year-old striker, who won the K League Young Player of the Year award last season, joins fellow South Korean striker Oh Hyun-kyu at Celtic Park.” The club also announced the signing of 22-year-old midfielder Kwon Hyuk-gyu.
“Kwon Hyuk-gyu, a 22-year-old midfielder, will join Yang Hyun-joon and fellow countryman Oh Hyun-gyu at Celtic Park,” the statement continued.
With Oh already acclimatized to the team, Yang Hyun-joon and Kwon Hyuk-gyu started playing in preseason matches to prepare for the season opener.
Their preseason debuts came quickly. Both players made their unofficial debuts in preseason friendlies. Kwon made his first appearance for Celtic as a 16th-minute substitute against Hwang Hee-chan’s Wolverhampton Wanderers on March 30.
Playing as a central midfielder, Kwon showed good chemistry with Yang Hyun-joon on the right flank. Oh Hyun-gyu came on as a substitute in the 25th minute, marking the first time Celtic’s Korean trio played together in a game.
In the match against Athletic Club Bilbao on February 2, Kwon Hyuk-kyu started the match, while Yang Hyun-joon and Oh Hyun-gyu came on as substitutes at the start of the second half to help Celtic come from behind to win 3-2. In that game, Oh made a clear impression on the coach, assisting on the winning goal from an attack that started with a pass from Yang Hyun-joon.
For the time being, however, all three players are unlikely to be in the starting lineup. With Japanese strikers such as Maeda and Furuhashi already in place, it’s hard to imagine Rodgers suddenly guaranteeing the Koreans a starting spot.
Furuhashi was the top scorer in the league last season with 27 goals, while Maeda also had a strong season with 10 goals and five assists. Abada, who can also play on the wing, has proven to be a reliable attacker with 10 goals and five assists, putting him ahead of Yang Hyun-joon and Oh Hyun-gyu in the competition for a starting spot.
As for Kwon, he’ll have to work harder to compete for a starting spot, as he’ll have to contend with the likes of McGregor, one of Celtic’s most established players, as well as Turnbull, O’Reilly, and Leo Hatate, who have already settled in.먹튀검증
After winning their opening game, Celtic will host Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium in Aberdeen on March 13 for the second round of the Scottish Premiership. It will be interesting to see if any Korean players will be included in the starting lineup for the second round.