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  • Dominant Celts return to winning ways

    Dominant Celts return to winning ways

    By: Tony Connelly on 13 Dec, 2017 21:56

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Wednesday 13 December, 2017

    (Ntcham 11, Forrest 40, Sinclair 41)

    (Redmond 28)

    A DOMINANT Celtic cemented their place at the top of the Premiership with a convincing 3-1 win over Hamilton Accies. The champions subjected their opponents to wave after wave of attack as they returned to winning ways following last weekend’s draw away to Hibernian.

    Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the team that were held to a 2-2 at Easter Road for the second meeting between Hamilton and Celtic this season.

    Kristoffer Ajer, Nir Bitton and Stuart Armstrong came into the starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney who all started the bench.

    French teenager Odsonne Edouard, who scored a hat-trick in Celtic’s recent 5-1 win over Motherwell at Paradise, led the attack against the team he scored his debut goal against back in September. He was supported by wingers James Forrest and Scott Sinclair.

    Celtic played with a real sense of urgency and aggression in attack as they started the game with a high tempo which the visitors had no answer for.

    Gary Woods was busy from the off as Nir Bitton tested the Hamilton keeper with a shot from distance which he managed to palm away. Stuart Armstrong quickly followed up with a curling 25-yard effort which went over the crossbar, before a well worked corner saw Olivier Ntcham’s shot come close to opening the scoring.

    The French midfielder took his next chance though, putting his team ahead with a wonderful finish just after the 10-minute mark. Scott Sinclair dribbled his way into the Hamilton penalty area and lofted an inch perfect pass across goal which Ntcham volleyed home from close range.

    He almost scored another technically brilliant goal midway through the half when his half-volley from outside the box forced great save out of Woods.

    Celtic dominated possession and looked to be in complete control, however, Hamilton snatched an equaliser with their first shot on goal when Danny Redmond’s shot from the edge of the area found the far top corner.

    Martin Canning’s team then looked to frustrate Celtic after drawing level by sitting deeper in an attempt to stifle Celtic’s attack, but the champions restored their lead towards the end of the half. Armstrong threaded a great ball through the visitors’ defence for Forrest, who rounded Woods and tucked the ball in to secure his sixth league goal of the season.

    Scott Sinclair scored his third goal in two games just one minute later. Forrest fired a low ball into the box for his fellow winger. Sinclair controlled the ball well and the Hamilton defence stood off him, allowing him the time to pick out the top corner.  

    The second half saw the Hoops winger continue to torment Hamilton down the left wing, helped by some wonderful passing from Callum McGregor, who weaved a string of precise balls into the box for his team-mates. McGregor looked at ease in the left full-back position and showed impressive vision to continually pierce the Hamilton backline with sharp passing.

    Edouard had a couple of opportunities to add his name to the scoresheet early in the second half. His first chance was scrambled away after a heavy first touch inside the box. Scott Brown created the second opportunity with a perfectly-weighted pass through the Hamilton defence but Woods was off his line in a flash to prevent Edouard getting a shot off.

    The Invincibles maintained their relentless attacking football with wave after wave of attack. Armstrong replicated his earlier effort with a curling shot from distance which shaved the outside of the post.

    Despite seeing very little possession, Hamilton still fashioned a couple of opportunities in the second half. Rakish Bingham fired wide from close range after getting on the end of a cut-back from his team-mate and then he hit the inside of the post after fastening onto Jozo Simunovic’s short back-pass.  

    Leigh Griffiths replaced Edouard with just over 20 minutes remaining, and the 27-year-old looked lively in attack, coming close to extending Celtic’s lead multiple times in the in the closing stages. First, Woods steered his shot round the post and, moments later, Massimo Donati stabbed the ball away from him inside the box. His 90th minute effort from the edge of the area also went narrowly over.

    Having returned to winning ways, Celtic now sit four clear at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand, with their domestic unbeaten run now standing at 69 games. Preparations will now begin for their fifth game in December when they travel to Tynecastle on Sunday to face Craig Levein’s Hearts.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Ajer, Bitton, Boyata (Simunovic 72), McGregor; Brown, Ntcham; Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 78), Sinclair; Edouard (Griffiths 67)
    Not Used: De Vries, Dembele, Lustig, Tierney

    HAMILTON (4-5-1) Woods; McMann, Tomas, Gillespie (Skondras 49), Gogic; Imrie, Docherty, Redmond (Lyon 78), MacKinnon, Donati, Bingham (Cunningham 83)
    Not Used: Fulton, Templeton, Ferguson, Sarris

    Website Man of the Match: Olivier Ntcham

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