Oh Hyeon-gyu scores debut goal as Celtic beat St. Mirren 5-1

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Oh Hyeon-gyu scores debut goal as Celtic beat St. Mirren 5-1

Oh Hyeon-gyu celebrates after scoring his debut goal in a photo posted to the club's official Twitter page on Saturday.  [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Oh Hyeon-gyu celebrates after scoring his debut goal in a photo posted to the club's official Twitter page on Saturday. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
Korea’s newest European star Oh Hyeon-gyu has started off on the right foot, scoring his debut goal in only his fourth appearance for Scottish league leaders Celtic.
 
Oh’s first goal came in his longest appearance for the Scottish club to date, playing 27 minutes as Celtic thrashed St. Mirren 5-1 in a Scottish Cup game at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday.
 
Celtic pulled ahead early with a 16th-minute goal from Daizen Maeda, holding on to the 1-0 lead for over an hour before slamming in four more goals in the final 15 minutes of the match.
 
The rout started in the 75th minute when St. Mirren’s Richard Taylor was sent off for a handball, with a long VAR review needed to determine whether the seemingly accidental move had obstructed a certain goal. The referee called that it had and Reo Hatate converted to take the score to 2-0.
 
Hatate’s goal opened the flood gates as the 10 remaining St. Mirren men could do little to stop the onslaught.
 
Oh’s opportunity came five minutes later when St. Mirren goalkeeper Trevor Carson stopped a shot from Callum McGregor. The young Korean jumped on the loose ball, beating Carson to take the score to 3-0.
 
Matt O’Riley added another in the 90th minute while Hatate found his second goal in injury time, with St. Mirren adding one of their own from an 87th-minute penalty to put the final score at a resounding 5-1.
 
As if the impressive win over a Scottish Premiership rival wasn’t enough, Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou also got to see the serious potential his entire squad offers — four of the five goals were scored by substitutes.
 
Those substitutes are increasingly important for Postecoglou now after star striker Kyogo Furuhashi was taken out with a shoulder injury in the 14th minute on Saturday. Both Oh and Maeda could step into Furuhashi’s role while he’s out with an injury.
 
“Oh isn’t the only option for us,” Postecoglou said after the game. You saw Daizen play there today and he’s someone I’ve used in that position before, both here and in Japan.
 
“He’s got a very similar kind of movement to Kyogo. We all know how hard he works. So we’ve got a couple of different options there. From our perspective it’s not about just throwing Oh in there because Kyogo’s injured. It’s about the balance of the team and making sure we put a team out there we think can win a game.”
 
Oh signed with Celtic on Jan. 25 in a deal reportedly valued at £2.5 million ($3-million) after a drawn-out transfer saga that saw the Scottish club’s offer initially rejected before both Oh and the Bluewings manager made it clear they thought he deserved the opportunity.
 
Oh scored 14 goals in 39 appearances across all competitions in the 2022 K League season. He was called up to the senior Korean squad for the first time on Nov. 11, playing 18 minutes of a friendly against Iceland, and landing on the reserves list for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
 
The snappy Korean midfielder is still finding his feet in Glasgow, appearing in all four games since his arrival, but until this week it was only ever for less than 20 minutes at the end of the second half.
 
Oh has already ingratiated himself to Celtic fans though, doing a “Twitter Q&A” on the club’s Twitter feed this week in which he said he’s always wanted to play for the Scottish club.
 
"Before I joined the club, it had always been a club of my dreams because Korean football players already have played here,” Oh said. “Now as part of the club I understand why Celtic is a great club."
 
 
 Asked a range of other questions, Oh also revealed that his favorite song is “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars and that if he wasn’t a footballer, his chosen career would be running a restaurant.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]
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