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  • First-half fight-back seals win for Celts at Hamilton

    First-half fight-back seals win for Celts at Hamilton

    By: Martin Dalziel on 04 Oct, 2015 14:34

  • SPFL Premiership
    New Douglas Park, Hamilton
    Sunday, October 4, 2015


    (Kurtaj 4)


    (Boyata 26, Griffiths 32)

    FIRST-HALF goals from Dedryck Boyata and Leigh Griffiths helped Celtic overcome an early set-back against Hamilton at New Douglas Park to go one point off the top spot in the SPFL Premiership with a 2-1 win.

    Gramoz Kurtaj’s accurate finish inside five minutes gave the home side a shock lead against the champions but the Hoops fought back into the game and eventually got their noses in front before half-time.

    Boyata’s poked-home finish from Griffiths’ free-kick drew the match level just after the half-hour mark and the striker then scored what proved to be the winner with a well-placed header from Saidy Janko’s accurate cross six minutes later.

    A late chance from Gary Mackay-Steven was the Hoops’ best opportunity in a tight second-half but the first-half goals proved to be enough to get the Celts back to winning ways in the league and just one point off Aberdeen in first place.

    Ronny Deila made four changes for the match with Saidy Janko brought in to replace Mikael Lustig at right-back and Tyler Blackett drafted into central defence for the suspended Efe Ambrose. Emilio Izaguirre also came back into the starting XI in place of Kieran Tierney, who dropped to the bench.

    The game had a bright opening to it with both teams pushing forward with ambition but it was the home side who converted their early enterprise into a goal, despite the Celts dominating possession.

    High pressing from Kurtaj near the Celtic 18 yard box put Boyata under pressure, allowing the Hamilton attacker to squirm the ball away from his feet. The Accies forward then sped into the box and fired a composed shot into the bottom corner to stun the champions inside five minutes.

    The Lanarkshire team pressed their advantage, switching formation with fluidity from defence to attack but the Bhoys weathered the spell and began to play with more composure.

    The champions sought creativity on the wings with Janko and Izaguirre but it was ultimately through a piece of poor play from Hamilton that the Hoops got back into the game after Lucas Tagliapietra foolishly fouled Janko after the Celtic defender made a bursting run down the right.

    Leigh Griffiths took the resulting free-kick and whipped in a dangerous ball to the back-post where Boyata atoned for his earlier slip by striking the ball home to level the match.

    Celtic were then in the ascendancy and sensed Hamilton were on the ropes. They continued to play direct down the wings and Janko was involved again as the Hoops eventually took the lead.

    The full-back got on the end of a great passing move from the Celts outside the Accies box and curled in a perfect cross for Griffiths, who out-jumped his marker and nodded home a well-placed header across the keeper to put the champions in front.

    Hamilton then looked like they were falling apart as James Forrest almost made it 3-1 with a clever shot at the near post but they managed to regroup before half-time and keep the Celts out before the interval.

    The teams came out for the restart full of renewed enthusiasm, with Izaguirre’s strong header in the centre of the pitch signalling Celtic’s intentions to grab control of the game. That sparked a spate of fouls from either side with both teams trying to assert their authority in a hotly contested start to the second period which featured plenty of passion but little football.

    Celtic soon began to get their foot on the ball, however, and used their aggressive pressing to win the ball back in promising areas but could create little in the way of chances.

    Stuart Armstrong replaced James Forrest on 65 minutes as the Celts freshened up their attack. The winger had been largely subdued and forced into defensive work for most of the afternoon with so much of Hamilton’s play focused down Celtic’s left.

    His substitution gave Armstrong a chance to get back on the pitch after a period out injured and he looked keen to impress but Accies refused to give up their quest for an equaliser and made their own tactical change, with Christian Nade replacing Carlton Morris.

    As the game wore on chances remained at a premium. Niggling fouls and poor passing from both teams bogged the play down in midfield with both sides also putting in a shift in defence.

    The game entered the final 10 minutes finely balanced with the Hoops still 2-1 up but keen to add to their lead. A glorious chance was presented to do that when Garcia Tena fouled Griffiths outside the box but the Celtic striker’s shot from the resultant set-piece was straight at McGovern.

    Substitute Gary Mackay-Steven then showed Garcia Tena a clean pair of heels in stoppage time to get a shot in on goal but his effort slipped narrowly wide.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko (Lustig 76), Boyata, Blackett, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Rogic (Mackay-Steven 76), Forrest (Armstrong 65); Griffiths

    Not used: Bailly, Ciftci, McGregor, Tierney

    HAMILTON ACCIES (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Garcia Tena, Tagliapietra, Kurkanis; Gillespie, Mackinnon; Imrie (D’Acol 82), Crawford (Docherty 75), Kurtaj; Morris (Nade 69)

    Not used: Martin, Sendles-White, Longridge, Lyon,

    Website man of the match: Scott Brown

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