Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou was delighted for Aaron Mooy to get off the mark with his first two goals for the club in a 4-0 win over Hibernian.
The Australia midfielder has brought his impressive World Cup performances back to Scotland and struck the opener from 12 yards at Easter Road before hitting a second-half penalty.
Postecoglou said: “With Aaron it was just a matter of getting him fit. He played probably two games of football in six months before we signed him.
“So I knew it was going to take time when to get to the fitness levels but I knew as soon as that happened he has such a good engine, his ability to run, his quality would eventually shine through.
“We’ve had a positive World Cup, the guys who went away have come back with some real belief through the positive experiences they had.
“I think that has helped us, not just with the players’ own conditioning, but also in their belief in themselves.
“It was great for Aaron, he’s been a bit unlucky, he’s been knocking on the door at getting a couple of goals and it was great to see him do it.”
Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi were also on target as Celtic ensured they will go into Monday’s New Year derby at Ibrox nine points and 20 goals ahead of Rangers in the cinch Premiership.
“The boys were great,” Postecoglou said. “We had a feeling Hibs would come at us early on especially and they did. Credit to them, the first 15-20 minutes were pretty frenetic, the crowd were up for it, I thought it was a good watch.
“But our boys held it together really well. They got to grips with the game and after that I just thought we dominated and scored some cracking goals and we could have had a couple more. It was just an outstanding effort by the players.”
Postecoglou believes Greg Taylor will be fit to face Rangers despite going off with an injury after the fourth goal.
“I think so,” he said. “He felt a bit tight. With the game the way it was, he decided conservatively to come off.”
Hibs started positively and Chris Cadden had a goal disallowed for offside, and they had two good chances to halve the deficit when Paul Hanlon hit the post and Kevin Nisbet headed wide from six yards.
But they looked a demoralised side in the final half hour as they suffered an eighth defeat in 10 matches to finish 2022 in eighth place.
Manager Lee Johnson said: “We didn’t go into this game lacking confidence. I think that showed in the first 15, 20 minutes.
“Celtic are a top team, make no bones about it. I’ve managed against Premier League teams on numerous occasions and Celtic are, if not the best, certainly one of the best sides, maybe bar Manchester City, that I’ve come across. That’s how good they are.
“They’re maybe not all household names compared to English Premier League players but they are a unit, a team, they’re dynamic, they’ve got penetrative runs, and as a squad and players you have got to learn from that. I think we are learning, we are improving.”