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  • Ten-man Celts dispatch Hamilton to maintain unbeaten run

    Ten-man Celts dispatch Hamilton to maintain unbeaten run

    By: Mark Henderson on 24 Dec, 2016 14:24

  • Scottish Premiership
    SuperSeal Stadium
    Saturday, December 24, 2016


    (Griffiths 41, Armstrong 54, Dembele 83)

    STUART Armstrong’s Christmas cracker helped ten-man Celtic record a comfortable 3-0 win over Hamilton Accies to extend their domestic unbeaten run to 22 games and preserve their 14-point advantage at the top of the table.  

    Leigh Griffiths had fired the Hoops into the lead at the break at the Superseal Stadium, before Callum McGregor was harshly sent off for a second booking minutes into the second half.

    But Brendan Rodgers’ side showed their fighting spirit to swiftly double the advantage through Armstrong, the in-form midfielder finding the top corner with a ferocious long-range shot.

    And after that the Bhoys resolutely held firm and clinically sealed a 13th straight victory as substitutes James Forrest and Moussa Dembele combined for the latter to guide a shot beyond goalkeeper Gary Woods.     

    Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack as Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team that saw off Partick Thistle on Tuesday night. Erik Sviatchenko and Emilio Izaguirre were restored to the defence and Stuart Armstrong came back in central midfield. Dembele, Calvin Miller, Liam Henderson and Jozo Simunovic were the players to drop out.

     Despite the torrential and windswept conditions, Celtic made a positive start and Sviatchenko almost put them ahead in the fourth minute when his header from Griffiths’ corner was diverted onto the underside of the bar by Rakish Bingham, with the ball eventually scrambled clear by the hosts.

    At the other end, Bingham threatened to get on the end of Ali Crawford’s centre before Scott Sinclair shot over after cutting in from the left.

    Moving the ball around with pace and playing with plenty of width, the Hoops continued to take the game to Martin Canning’s side, and they threatened again from another Griffiths corner. His low delivery was flicked on by Armstrong and Scott Brown was unable to scramble the ball past Woods in the ensuing melee.

    After this initial flurry of offensive activity, the game became scrappier and bogged down in a congested midfield area, though the Bhoys still managed to conjure up some intricate passages of play, with the lively Sinclair to the fore.

    And it was the wide-man who picked out McGregor in the box the 26th minute with a precise pass. The midfielder did well to dance away from one defender but his final effort was charged down by Scott McMann.

    A rare Hamilton breakaway saw Dougie Imrie fire a powerful shot straight into Craig Gordon’s arms, as the stalemate continued.

    Griffiths shot over and Cristian Gamboa lashed narrowly wide from distance before Celtic grabbed the vital breakthrough four minutes before the break.

    McGregor threaded a pass through the middle and when Michael Devlin failed to deal with it, Griffiths was onto it in flash, bursting through the middle and then finishing emphatically into the corner past Woods.

    Dembele replaced the goalscorer for the start for the start of the second half and the champions soon had to make another reshuffle in controversial circumstances.

    McGregor, who had been booked in the first half, collided with McMann on the touchline as he attempted to block a clearance. It looked an innocuous challenge but referee Willie Collum produced a second yellow card and gave the 23-year-old his marching orders.

    Nir Bitton was introduced from the bench at the expense of Patrick Roberts to bolster the midfield but the ten men showed they were still a force to be reckoned with as Armstrong doubled the lead with a sensational strike from distance.

    Picking up the ball 35 yards from goal, the former Dundee United man took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner.

    With their advantage in personnel, Hamilton were having more of the ball but, aside from a low shot from Louis Longridge that Gordon did well to push round the post, they were failing to seriously trouble the Celtic backline.

    And a sublime piece of skill from Bitton which took him beyond an Accies defender and into the box presented Dembele with a sight of goal, the Frenchman’s shot from 18-yards saved by Woods.

    Hamilton sub Eammon Brophy headed wide and was denied by Gordon before the Bhoys broke at speed to completely kill off the home side’s resistance, with Dembele finishing with conviction from Forrest cutback.

    And there was still time for Forrest to shot wide as the clock ticked down as the champions finished on top to keep the Celtic juggernaut rolling on.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 51), Griffiths (Dembele 46), Sinclair (Forrest 76)
    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Christie, Henderson

    HAMILTON ACCIES (3-4-1-2) Woods;  Sarris, Devlin, McMann; Longridge, Mackinnon,  Donati, Imrie; Redmond (Brophy 55); Crawford, Bingham (D’Acol 72)
    Not Used: Thomson, Seaborne, Cunningham, Breslin, Hughes

    Website Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong

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