Soccer: Maeda opens scoring for Celtic in 3-1 win over Livingston

© Kyodo News

Japan forward Daizen Maeda netted Celtic's opener Sunday in a 3-1 win away to Livingston in the Scottish Premier League.

The 24-year-old attacker nodded in at the back post in the 17th minute at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium after keeper Max Stryjek parried Carl Starfelt's header off a corner kick.

Maeda had given Celtic an early chance to open their account, earning a penalty when his cutback struck defender Jack Fitzwater on the arm.

Although Celtic captain Callum McGregor fired the spot-kick into the post, Livingston had only a short reprieve until Maeda found the net.

An own goal extended the lead before James Forrest put Celtic up 3-0 in the 55th minute, racing into the box and scoring from a tight angle. Andrew Shinnie pulled one back for the hosts a minute later.

The win kept Ange Postecoglou's Celtic side on top of the SPL table with a three-point buffer over defending champions and bitter crosstown rivals Rangers.

Maeda, who arrived at Celtic in January from J-League outfit Yokohama F Marinos, brought his tally to three in the SPL and five across all competitions for the Glasgow club.

His performance Sunday earned strong praise from Postecoglou, who said the Japanese striker contributed much more to the club than just goals.

"Unfortunately for (strikers), sometimes that's the only thing they get measured by," former Marinos boss Postecoglou told the official Celtic site.

"(But) he's been really good for us and again today I thought his work-rate, his pressuring, his running was outstanding, and I'm happy for him to get his goal as well."

Maeda's Samurai Blue teammate Reo Hatate came off the bench late for Celtic, while countryman Yosuke Ideguchi did not play. Celtic's other Japanese international, Kyogo Furuhashi, remains sidelined by injury.