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  • Matthews fires Celtic on the road to victory

    Matthews fires Celtic on the road to victory

    By: Mark Henderson on 17 Jan, 2015 14:48

  • Scottish Premiership
    New Douglas Park, Hamilton
    Saturday, January 17, 2014


    (Matthews 33, Henderson 50)

    GOALS in either half from Adam Matthews and Liam Henderson sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory for Celtic over a resilient Hamilton Accies side at New Douglas Park.

    The Welshman opened the scoring with a venomous strike from 20 yards, before Liam Henderson doubled the advantage five minutes after the interval.

    Although they had to work for the win, it was a deserved triumph for the Bhoys, who closed the gap on league leaders Aberdeen to one point, having played one game fewer, with the Dons in action later in the afternoon against Dundee.

    Jason Denayer started for the first time in almost two months as Ronny Deila made two changes to the team who took on Kilmarnock before the club’s winter break in Gran Canaria.

    The Belgian defender – who hadn’t featured since picking up an injury against Dundee on November 22 – was joined in the starting XI by Leigh Griffiths, with Stefan Scepovic and Efe Ambrose dropping to the bench.

    The game started at a furious tempo as both teams bought for supremacy. Space was at a premium but Celtic carried the most threat, with Kris Commons having a free-kick blocked from 20 yards inside the opening five minutes.

    Gradually, the Hoops began to craft some openings against the well-organised home rearguard as they moved the ball with pace and precision.

    In the 10th minute, Adam Matthews went scampering clear down the right after a deft touch from Johansen but he couldn’t pick out Griffiths in the middle. From the resultant corner, Commons headed into the side-netting.

    Like the game at Rugby Park, Commons was prominent and he garnered a sight of goal after quick interchange of passing with Liam Henderson. However, he failed to generate any power in the shot to trouble Michael McGovern.

    After Commons had a shot deflected wide, Virgil van Dijk won the header from the corner but again, McGovern made a comfortable save.

    A lovely flighted ball from Henderson found Commons with plenty space to exploit down the right. But McGovern plucked his cross out of the air at the front post.  

    At the other end, the hosts had only fashioned one effort on goal, an opportunist shot from left-back Stephen Hendrie that flew wide.

    However, they came close to taking the lead following a melee in the box in the 26th minute. When the ball was knocked back into the mix following a corner, Mikael Antoine-Curier won the initial header. Denayer reacted quickest but inadvertently headed towards his own goal.

    However, Craig Gordon came to rescue, tipping it on to the bar and then diving to his right to block the rebound.

    That proved a crucial stop as Celtic made the breakthrough in spectacular style. Commons found Matthews overlapping down the right and the Welshman took a touch, before lashing a rising shot into the top corner. It was his first goal in 18 months.

    Commons and Matthews had linked up effectively throughout the first half and they combined again to create an opening for Griffiths, who sent a deliberate half-volley inches over.

    Scott Brown, donning protective strapping for a head injury, was then involved at both ends, firing wide from 20 yards and then blocking Darian Mackinnon’s shot as Celtic went in at the break in charge.

    It was an advantage Ronny Deila’s men looked determined to preserve as they emerged after the restart, playing with purpose and intent and not allowing the home side to gain any momentum.

    And they only took five minutes to double their tally. Matthews’ cross from the byline dropped for Izaguirre. He worked the ball back to Henderson, and the teenager expertly drilled a shot in at the near post.

    Hamilton, however, showed why they have been performing so well in the league, by responding with a spell of pressure. Dougie Imrie galloped into the box after finding acres of space on the right, but he was unable to pick out a team-mate from his cutback.

    Gordon had to be at his best to deny the winger with a reflex save at his near post, before the same player was left unmarked when Tony Andreu headed a ball back into the mix, but he was unable to capitalise.

    As Accies committed more men forward, inevitably, chances for Celtic to profit on the break also increased, and Stephen Hendrie was forced to commit a foul on the onrushing Stefan Johansen on the edge of the box, earning him a yellow card. Griffiths took the set-piece but the wall took the venom of his shot.

    Commons and Matthews had further efforts for the Bhoys, while Ali Crawford and Mackinnon also tried their luck at the other end as the play continued to swing from end to end.

    Griffiths had worked hard in attack without reward but his stinging shot forced McGovern into action, the keeper eventually grasping the ball at the second attempt. Moments later, van Dijk stormed forward from the back all the way into the Accies box but blazed over.

    Substitute Stefan Scepovic headed over and Leigh Griffiths drew a save from McGovern as the game entered its closing stages.

    Antoine-Curier also curled over for the hosts but there would be no late consolation for them as Celtic deservedly held on for the three points.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon, Matthews, van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre; Bitton, Brown; Commons (Scepovic 79), Johansen, Henderson (McGregor 65); Griffiths

    Not Used: Zaluska, Ambrose, Guidetti, Fisher, Thomson

    HAMILTON ACCIES (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gillespie, Canning, Devlin, Hendrie; Routledge (Longridge 62) Mackinnon (Redmond 81); Imrie (Brophy 69) Andreu, Crawford; Antoine-Curier

    Not Used: Hill, Watson, Docherty, Garcia Tena,

    Website Man of the Match: Adam Matthews


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