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  • Solitary Griffiths strike seals Celtic's 10th league win in a row

    Solitary Griffiths strike seals Celtic's 10th league win in a row

    By: Martin Dalziel on 13 Dec, 2016 21:36

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park
    Tuesday December 13, 2016

    CELTIC…1
    (Griffiths 36)

    HAMILTON ACCIES…0

    THE gap at the summit of the SPFL Premiership between Celtic and the rest of the competition was stretched even wider as the Hoops recorded their 10th league win in a row with a 1-0 victory over Hamilton Accies.

    Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys dominated the encounter from start to finish and the comfortable win, secured by Leigh Griffiths’ first-half strike, saw the Celts go 11 points clear of their closest rivals, and Brendan Rodgers will be keen to see his team extend that further against Dundee at the weekend.

    The Lanarkshire side were decked out in their change kit of light blue with dark shorts for Celtic’s first home game since the League Cup final win over Aberdeen, but they found themselves drowning in a sea of green and white in a first-half dominated by the home team.

    Griffiths and Moussa Dembele, one of three changes from Friday’s win over Partick Thistle, linked up well in the early stages, with Patrick Roberts and Tom Rogic both lively in and around the crowded Accies penalty area, where most of the play focused.

    Celtic continuously weaved together a string of short passes round the visitors’ 18-yard box before trying to thread a killer final ball, but there was little reward for them in the first 25 minutes as Martin Canning’s team defended resolutely against relentless attacking.

    Playing with a back three, the champions had the numerical advantage in midfield and support in attack to break down Accies’ back five, but patience was required as the teams played out a game of tactical cat and mouse in the first-half.

    Persistence finally provided dividends for the champions, however, when the Hoops strikers combined to excellent effect to break the deadlock. The move started with Rogic’s excellent through pass to Dembele from midfield, setting the Frenchman up with just the keeper to beat from 18 yards.

    The 20-year-old cleverly spotted the run of Griffiths, however, and selflessly passed to his strike partner, who, after fending off a challenge from Grant Gillespie, calmly stroked the ball home for the opener.

    And the Celtic goal-machine could have grabbed his 12th of the season minutes later when he latched on to a looping pass over the Hamilton defence, but the forward dragged his effort just wide of the post, leaving the Bhoys with a slim but deserved one-goal advantage at the break.

    The visitors returned to the pitch early following the interval and started the second-half enthusiastically, with Ali Crawford’s powerful shot bringing out the first save of the game for Craig Gordon.

    Roberts’ wing wizardry was still a constant menace for the Bhoys, however, and his determination to reach the byline again and again continued to create problems for Hamilton, setting up Griffiths for an off-target shot before forcing a short back-pass from the Accies defence that almost let in Dembele.

    Stuart Armstrong then passed up a chance to add to the lead after good work from Dembele before intense pressing from Griffiths almost forced the visitors into conceding an own goal with another slack back-pass.

    Brendan Rodgers' side were relentless in their quest for a killer second goal and could have found it through Roberts' trickery down the right again, but substitute Gary Mackay-Steven just failed to connect with the Englishman’s cross at the back post.

    Rogic was next to go close with a thunderous swerving effort that went inches wide of the right-hand post before he was scythed down by Gillespie at the other end, earning the Accies man a booking.

    Celtic’s appetite for goals continued but in the end the champions were forced to settle for the solitary first-half strike from Griffiths. However, the win was still enough to establish a commanding 11-point cushion at the top of the Premiership ahead of Saturday’s tussle with Dundee at Paradise.

    CELTIC (3-1-4-2): Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Simunovic; Brown; Roberts, Rogic, Armstrong, McGregor (Mackay-Steven 58); Griffiths, Dembele (Bitton 83).
    Not used: de Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Christie

    HAMILTON (5-3-2) Woods; Gillespie, Sarris, Donati, McMann, Imrie; Docherty, McKinnon, Redmond (Longridge 80); Crawford (Cunningham 89), Bingham (Brophy 76).
    Not used: D’Acol, McGregor, Hughes, Thomson

    Website Man of the Match: Patrick Roberts

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