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  • Bhoys hold off late Caley revival to claim three points

    Bhoys hold off late Caley revival to claim three points

    By: Martin Dalziel on 15 Aug, 2015 16:56

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    (Lustig 7, Griffiths 12, Armstrong 55, 69,)

    (Christie 72, Lopez 78)

    CELTIC survived a late rally by Inverness Caley Thistle to get back to winning ways in the league with a 4-2 victory at Paradise.

    A lightening quick start from the champions saw them go 2-0 up inside 12 minutes thanks to goals from Mikael Lustig and Leigh Griffiths as they dominated the first-half.

    That lead was stretched further in the second-half courtesy of a fine double from Stuart Armstrong but the visitors clawed their way back into proceedings through two late goals from Ryan Christie and Dani Lopez.

    The game remained open until the closing minutes, with both sides squandering chances to score again but the Celts emerged victorious, and deservedly so on the balance of play.

    Kick-off was preceded by the arrival of new signing Scott Allan who was unveiled to the home support before after the 23-year-old midfielder agreed a four-year deal to join Ronny Deila’s side from Hibernian on Friday.

    The manager made five changes to his side following the midweek 2-2 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park with captain Scott Brown, along with fellow Hoops stars Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Gary Mackay-Steven and Armstrong all reintroduced to the starting XI as the Celts fielded a strong team ahead of Wednesday’s visit of Malmo in the UEFA Champions League play-off.

    The Celtic skipper was instrumental in the opening stages and it was his driving run towards the box which was halted unfairly and led to the opening goal. The midfielder had dodged two challenges but was fouled at the third, setting up Stefan Johansen with a free-kick 30 yards out.

    The Norwegian clipped a ball into the box and Mikael Lustig rose highest of three waiting Celtic players to get a strong enough touch to put the ball beyond Owain Fon Williams for the opener on seven minutes.

    The Bhoys then kept up the pressure and doubled their advantage five minutes later after a great piece of play from Nir Bitton down the left after the Israeli midfielder did well to hold on to the ball under pressure then work space for a left-footed cross to the back post.

    Griffiths was poised and waiting, and he powered a header home after leaping above his marker from a standing start, putting the Bhoys 2-0 up

    It was scintillating stuff from the champions and it didn’t relent. Their quick passing and slick movement continued to bring free-kicks and corners as the visitors struggled to deal with the high-tempo play.

    Ross Draper and Carl Tremarco were both booked for late challenges as the Celts dragged the Highlanders across the pitch, with the former lucky not to be sent off for his poorly-timed tackle on Brown.

    The lead was almost further extended by the Hoops before the half-hour mark when Johansen rattled a shot off the bar and Stuart Armstrong’s accurate rebound was cleared off the line as the visitors clung on by the skin of their teeth.

    The pressure continued to the interval but no more goals came despite further efforts from Bitton and Armstrong after patient play by the champions.

    John Hughes changed his formation for the second-half, switching between a five 5-3-2 and 4-1-4-1 system in a bid to thwart Celtic’s play, and it worked for a while with Caley enjoying good spells of possession in the opening stages but their good work was undone on 55 minutes when Armstrong put the Bhoys 3-0 up.

    The winger gathered the ball in the box from a Griffiths cutback and showed confidence and composure to take a touch before curling a fizzing shot over the head of Fon Williams and into the net.

    Brown and Lustig were then replaced by Charlie Mulgrew and Saidy Janko with half an hour left and were only on the pitch for a minute before Johansen went agonisingly close to making it 4-0 with a rasping volley from 20 yards after Armstrong’s corner.

    Armstrong then made it a double for the afternoon when he picked the ball up on the edge of the Caley box and drove towards the penalty spot, dodging tackles all the time.

    Just when it looked like the chance had passed for the player he pulled the trigger and unleashed a low, powerful shot past Fon Williams to make it 4-0 with 20 minutes left.

    The attacker was then replaced by Callum McGregor almost immediately as Celtic continued the attack but a brief lapse in concentration at the back for the Bhoys saw the visitors claim a goal back when substitute Ryan Christie pounced on a mistake from Boyata and slotted low beyond Craig Gordon.

    Further slack play from the champions then allowed the visitors to grab another when second-half substitute Dani Lopez found the ball 30 yards out and worked an angle to fire an accurate finish beyond Gordon and set up a nervy final 10 minutes.

    Both sides passed up chances to score in the closing stages as tiredness left gaps for the teams to exploit but the Hoops held firm to keep the score at 4-2 and claim the three points.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Janko 62), Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown (Mulgrew 62), Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (McGregor 70) Griffiths.
    Not used: Bailly, Stokes, Rogic, Forrest

    INVERNESS: (4-1-4-1) Fon Williams; Raven, Draper, Devine, Tremarco (Lopez 68); Polworth (Christie 49); Tansey, Vigurs (Wedderburn 68), Horner, Williams; Mbuyi-Mutombo.
    Not used: Esson, Brown, Sutherland

    Website man of the match: Stuart Armstrong

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