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  • Dominant Celtic put Caley Thistle to sword

    Dominant Celtic put Caley Thistle to sword

    By: Martin Dalziel on 05 Nov, 2016 16:55

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday November 5, 2016

    (Sinclair 48, Griffiths 63, Rogic 83)


    A TRIO of second-half strikes from Celtic gave Brendan Rodgers’ side a deserved win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Paradise in the SPFL Premiership.

    After a frustrating first-half that saw Mikael Lustig forced off with injury inside 15 minutes, the champions came back out for the second-half fired up and took the lead through Scott Sinclair’s half volley after the restart.

    Leigh Griffiths added a second with a tap-in after Callum McGregor had been scythed down by Greg Tansey, who was red-carded for the offense after the goal, before substitute Tom Rogic capped off an ultimately productive afternoon for the Bhoys with a low finish at the game approached its conclusion.

    The result left the Celts 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership ahead of the international break and gave them their sixth clean sheet in a row in Scotland.

    There was a feeling of optimism around the ground ahead of kick-off after Brendan Rodgers named an ultra-attacking line-up, with four changes from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

    Griffiths, Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and McGregor were all brought into the side in place of James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre as the Celts lined up 3-4-3.

    The Bhoys started full of attacking intent but that optimism soon turned to anger when Lustig was forced off after a crunching tackle by Josh Meekings inside 15 minutes. The Caley Thistle defender went in straight-legged on the Swedish full-back, catching him flush on the foot but the tackle went unpunished and Celtic were forced to rethink their approach.

    Stuart Armstrong dropped into an unfamiliar role as auxiliary right-back while Emilio Izaguirre replaced the injured Lustig, with the sickening challenge on the Celts defender leaving a sour taste in the mouth among the home support.

    The Celtic fans were further aggrieved by the referee’s patience with Inverness’ robust challenges but the Hoops battled on and almost took the lead midway through the first-half when Leigh Griffiths connected with an excellent pass from McGregor but Owain Fon Williams tipped the volley off the bar and over.

    Inverness’ dogged resistance continued to thwart the Hoops’ momentum as half-time approached but the champions persisted with their patient passing style and it almost paid off when Izaguirre found Armstrong free in the box with a curling cross but the midfielder sent his header wide just the keeper to beat.

    With just two minutes to go until half-time, Greg Tansey finally had his close attention to Scott Brown penalised with a yellow card after fouling the Celtic captain in the centre of the pitch, before Scott Sinclair almost broke the deadlock with a mazy run and shot, but fired his effort over from inside the box.

    The Hoops man atoned for his miss almost instantly after the break, however, when Celtic re-emerged unchanged and went back on the hunt. Good closing down from Griffiths won the ball back for the Bhoys and he passed to Brown, who laid off a lovely ball to McGregor in a central area outside the box.

    The midfielder then clipped a delightful pass into the path of Sinclair who let it bounce up in front of him just inside the box before smashing a volley into the far corner to give Celtic a deserved lead.

    The Hoops formed a near impenetrable wall around the Inverness box in the wake of the goal, pinning the visitors back as they sought to add to the advantage and they soon had their wish.

    Inverness made a double switch on the hour mark after Nir Bitton replaced Scott Brown and the Bhoys capitalised as Richie Foran’s side acclimatised to the changes.

    Jake Mulraney and Alex Fisher barely had time to get into position when McGregor picked up the ball in midfield again and got off an excellent pass to Dembele before being hacked down by Tansey after the ball was away. The ref played advantage, allowing Celtic’s French striker to arch a shot to the far corner, which came back off the post straight to the feet of Griffiths, who tapped in easily to net his ninth goal of the season and first in six appearances.

    Things then went from bad to worse for Inverness when Tansey was shown a second yellow for his foul on McGregor and ordered off, reducing them to 10 men.

    The Highlanders must have breathed a sigh of relief when Brendan Rodgers then brought off Moussa Dembele with 20 minutes left but the respite was short lived, when they saw he was being replaced by Tom Rogic.

    The Australian’s talent for taking the ball on the turn in tight spaces was the last thing a beleaguered Inverness backline would have wanted to see and he soon set up Roberts 20 yards out with a neat flick but the visitors blocked the shot.

    The playmaker then finished off the afternoon for the champions in style when he fastened on to a fine cut-back from the impressive Armstrong, and rifled a low shot into the net, despite the best efforts of Fon Williams to make it 3-0.

    Chances continued to come for the Celts in the dying minutes, with Izaguirre unfortunate not to make it 4-0 in stoppage time, but the trio of strikes in the second-half proved enough for the Bhoys to run out comfortable winners, establishing an impressive 10 point lead at the top of the table.

    CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lustig (Izaguirre 14), Simunovic, Sviatchenko; Armstrong, Brown (Bitton 61), McGregor, Griffiths; Roberts, Dembele (Rogic 70), Sinclair

    Not used: De Vries, Gamboa, Christie, Forrest

    INVERNESS CT (4-2-1-3) Fon Williams; McKay, Warren, Meekings, Polworth (Cole 78); Horner, Tansey; Vigurs; Draper, Doumbouya (Fisher 62), King (Mulraney 62)

    Not used: Mackay, Boden, Sutherland

    Website Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong

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