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  • Clinical Celtic see off Accies in emphatic style

    Clinical Celtic see off Accies in emphatic style

    By: Martin Dalziel on 22 Feb, 2015 15:00

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park Glasgow
    Sunday, February 22, 2015

    CELTIC...4
    (Commons 54, Johansen 64, Guidetti 78, Commons 82)

    HAMILTON...0

    A CLINICAL second-half performance from Celtic saw the Bhoys put four goals beyond Hamilton at Paradise today (Sunday) to go three points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership.

    A double from Kris Commons was added to by strikes from Stefan Johansen and John Guidetti as Ronny Deila’s side recorded their ninth consecutive domestic win in a row.

    Celtic made four changes for the match following Thursday’s epic encounter with Inter Milan but there was still a strong spine to the team with major threats up front.

    Efe Ambrose replaced Adam Matthews at right-back and Commons made his return from injury to replace Gary Mackay-Steven in the wide right berth.

    James Forrest also made a welcome return to the starting XI in favour of Stuart Armstrong, as did Thursday’s last action goal hero, Guidetti, who replaced Leigh Griffiths up front.

    Celtic started brightly and passed the ball well in the wide areas but Hamilton stayed compact and did well to get men in the box to block early crosses from Ambrose and Emilio Izaguirre.

    The visitors’ formation mirrored the Hoops, with Hasselbaink deployed as a lone striker and his early darting runs on the counter-attack put the Bhoys backline under pressure, but Hamilton couldn’t find the diminutive striker with a pass.

    Celtic had several chances to take the lead inside the first 15 minutes but good saves from Michael McGovern denied Nir Bitton and Forrest as Ronny Deila’s side pushed for the opener.

    Celtic also won a string of corners but couldn’t make them count before a bursting run from midfield from Johansen saw the midfielder get on the end of another cross from Ambrose but the Norwegian’s shot deflected off Guidetti and out for a goal-kick.

    Hamilton were pinned back as the Hoops forced the issue but their clever one-twos on the edge of the 18-yard line couldn’t unlock the tight Accies defence.

    Commons took the brunt of a poor challenge from Ziggy Gordon as he tried to cut in to midfield from the right, for which the Hamilton defender was booked. The Celtic attacker recovered from the foul, however, and fired in a shot from distance minutes later but the effort was off target.

    The champions’ passing was crisp and direct in Hamilton territory but the sheer number of Accies defenders managed to break up almost any attack the Bhoys could mount.

    Forrest and Commons came more into the game as the half wore on, popping up in spaces on either flank but Hamilton pressed the creative players well and stopped them from getting near the area.

    The first half ended with Celtic well on top but the story of the first 45 minutes was encapsulated perfectly when Martin Canning and Gordon threw their bodies in front of a trio of shots from the Bhoys to keep the scores even going into the break.

    The pattern of the first half resumed following the restart but Celtic were much quicker in their passing and pushed Hamilton back immediately.

    The visitors stood strong and defended a Johansen shot from distance but the breakthrough eventually came on 54 minutes when Virgil van Dijk picked up the ball in defence and powered past two Hamilton players in midfield.

    The defender bore down on the box before setting up Commons with a perfectly-weighted pass in the box where the attacker took a touch and buried a volley beyond McGovern to put the Hoops in front.

    Johansen was then in on goal for Celtic again but he could only get a flicked shot on the end of a ball over the top.

    It wasn’t long until the Norwegian got his fourth domestic goal in a row, though, and the strike came courtesy of powerful and direct play from van Dijk again.

    The Dutchman picked up the ball in midfield and confidently strode forward towards the Hamilton goal before he dropped a shoulder and opened up space to shoot with his right.

    McGovern got two strong hands to the shot but the ball fell kindly for Johansen, who fired home to put the Bhoys 2-0 up.

    Ronny Deila then introduced Stuart Armstrong to the play, giving Forrest a rest after a busy afternoon. The midfielder settled into play well and played his part in setting up Celtic’s third not long after his introduction with a defence-splitting pass to Izaguirre on the left.

    The Honduran hit the byline before curling in a pinpoint ross for Guidetti, who nodded home from inside six yards to grab the goal his overall play deserved.

    Celtic were not finished, however, and came forward again in search of a fourth goal. They got their reward on 80 minutes when Matthews broke forward on the right before crossing for Commons who connected with the ball in and forced an effort beyond McGovern.

    Liam Henderson then replaced Johansen and the youngster showed his determination by getting straight into the action with a shot from the edge of the area but his effort sailed over.

    Hamilton won a late corner but van Dijk, who had be imperious all afternoon, rose well to clear the danger and secure a clean sheet for the Bhoys in front of the home crowd.

    CELTIC: (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer (Matthews 45), van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Johansen (Henderson 80), Forrest (Armstrong 59); Guidetti.
    Not used: Zaluska, , Mackay-Steven, Griffiths, Wakaso.

    HAMILTON: (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon (Longridge 45), Canning (Tagliapietra 82), Devlin, Hendrie; MacKinnon, Gillespie (Lyon 56); Routledge, Crawford, Imrie; Hasselbaink.
    Not used: Hill, Scotland, Brophy, Redmond.

    Website man of the match: Virgil van Dijk

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