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Celtic: Carl Starfelt was an unsung hero in win at St Johnstone

Celtic‘s convincing 4-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday saw Carl Starfelt put in another impressive display at the heart of the backline for Ange Postecoglou’s side, with the Sweden international proving vital in warding off any possible fightback from the hosts.

While much of the plaudits will go to the Old Firm outfit’s attacking talents – including midfield maestro Aaron Mooy due to the Aussie’s delightful dinked goal – it was the former Rubin Kazan man who was arguably something of an unsung hero at centre-back, having repeatedly thwarted Callum Davidson’s men.

The 27-year-old has been handed stern competition to be Cameron Carter-Vickers’ first-choice partner following the arrival of Japanese gem Yuki Kobayashi. However, the £19k-per-week titan appears to be in no mood to relinquish his starting berth any time soon, with yesterday’s outing another fine reminder of his quality.

The five-cap Swede produced a particularly dominant performance from his central defensive berth, having effectively ‘marshalled’ opposition striker Stevie May in what was a ‘solid’ showing on the whole, in the words of Glasgow Live‘s Lindsay Herron.

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The experienced defender had gone into the match having helped the Parkhead giants to secure four successive clean sheets in the Premiership – and also against Greenock Morton and Kilmarnock in both of the cup competitions – and it took a long-range stunner from Drey Wright for the Saints to end that imperious run.

Even despite failing to register another shutout, the Stockholm native was still the recipient of notable praise.

The Celtic Way‘s Tony Haggerty awarded the defender an 8/10 match rating, with this verdict cited: ‘The Swede will be bitterly disappointed that his clean sheet run has come to an end but another who defended stoutly and resolutely enough given the tricky underfoot conditions. He does have his moments defensively but it did not detract from another commanding performance where he was certainly dominant in the air.’

That dominance was evidenced by the fact that the 6 foot 1 ace remarkably won seven of his eight duels against the Saints, including six of his seven aerial duels as a marker of his physical prowess.

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The former IFK Goteborg man helped to thwart the opposing front line by making five clearances, while also showcasing his strength in possession as he enjoyed a 90% pass accuracy rate from his 127 touches.

That all-round quality unsurprisingly saw the £4.3m defender achieve an impressive match rating of 7.2 from Sofascore, further proving just how crucial he was to securing the Hoops’ 23rd top-flight win of the season.

While there may well be a clamour to see the aforementioned Kobayashi enjoy a regular run in the team, at present Starfelt is showcasing to Postecoglou that he will not be easily displaced.