Ange Postecoglou saw his Celtic side hit St Johnstone for seven to move nine points clear at the top of the Premiership table – then demanded that his players keep their foot to the floor until the title is won.
The champions-elect extended their unbeaten domestic run to 33 games in a demolition of the Perth outfit that saw Kyogo Furuhashi make his long-awaited return off the bench to set him up for a crack at Rangers in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi final.
Postecoglou was adamant that Kyogo wouldn’t start at Hampden even if Giorgos Giakoumakis – who went off with a hamstring injury – fails to make it.
But the Aussie was delighted with the impact his Japanese talisman made in the second half, saying: “I’m pleased for him because he is a great guy. And a super footballer.
He was so important for us at the beginning of the year when we really needed someone to step up.
“The whole group has watched him work really hard on his own in rehab so it was great to get him back out there.
“He looked like the quality player he is and he is going to be super important for us.
“I wouldn’t think we will be throwing him in next week. I doubt he’ll start next week.
“But if we can get him some more game time in the next couple of weeks you think he would be ready to go the last three or four games.”
Postecoglou was delighted with the display against Saints but insists he will keep demanding more from his team.
He added: “We were on it from the start. It was a danger game for us because St Johnstone have been on good form and are hard to break down.
“We needed to start well and like a lot of games we were on top early but it was good to see us keep going.
“At half time we spoke about that because it was a game we could have seen out quite comfortably.
“There’s a couple of things at work there – one is the players, who consistently try to push themselves and we also had some quality coming off the bench which helps to drive things too.”
Asked if he was confident Celtic will hold onto their lead, which will be reduced to six points if Rangers win in Paisley on Sunday, Postecoglou replied: “We don’t have to hold on to anything.
“We are not desperate for anything we are doing okay.
“We will keep doing what we are doing. We have five games to play and what we keep talking about is that we want to keep playing our best football and try to peak which was always our goal for this time of the year.
“We need to keep our head down, put the accelerator down and if we keep playing as we did today we will have a good chance.”
But he admitted the potential loss of Giakoumakis was the one cloud on a near perfect afternoon.
The Hoops boss said: “He felt a twinge in his hamstring so we won’t really know until we assess him.
“It’s disappointing. Giakoumakis has carried an enormous load for us these past few weeks and worked really hard. Hopefully it’s not something that keeps him out too long in the run-in.”
Tom Rogic was replaced by two-goal Matt O’Riley at half time with the game won at 3-0.
His gaffer added: “Tom is fine, it was just a decision of mine. He had done his work for him and I was pretty keen to get Matty some game time.
“It was a bit of a false start last week, coming on and then off.
“I am mindful of how hard all these guys are working and I want to give them opportunities in case we need them.”