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  • Sensational Celts hammer Hamilton in Paradise

    Sensational Celts hammer Hamilton in Paradise

    By: Mark Henderson on 19 Jan, 2016 21:40

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

    (Lustig 4, Bitton 9, Rogic 10, Griffiths 23, 33, 54, Forrest 52, McGregor 90)

    (Brophy 73)

    LEIGH Griffiths hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic turned on the style in Paradise to crush Hamilton Accies 8-1 and move six points clear at the top of the table.

    It was another deadly striking display from the striker - who has now scored 27 times this season – but, overall, this was an outstanding team performance from Ronny Deila’s side, who left the home crowd delighted with their exhilarating, attacking football.

    Mikael Lustig, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic had the Hoops three goals up inside the first 10 minutes, before Griffiths struck twice to give them a five-goal lead at the interval – but it could easily have been more as Accies struggled to stem the tide.

    Substitute James Forrest made it 6-0 and then Griffiths ensured he would leave with the matchball with number seven.

    Eamonn Brophy scored a consolation for Martin Canning’s side but Callum McGregor, another outstanding performer, had the last word in the final minute, rifling into the corner from the edge of the area as the Scottish champions left the pitch to a standing ovation.   

    Gary Mackay-Steven returned to Celtic starting XI for the first time since the UEFA Europa League meeting with Ajax on November 26, as Ronny Deila made three changes from the team that triumphed 4-1 against Dundee United last Friday night.

    Bitton also returned to the team following suspension, while Emilio Izaguirre came in at left-back. Kris Commons, Stefan Johansen and Kieran Tierney were the three players to drop out.

    The Hoops started with great gusto and purpose and they came close to opening the scoring inside the opening 60 seconds.

    Izaguirre immediately embarked on one of his familiar forward forays from left back and  his cross-shot was palmed away by goalkeeper Michael McGovern only as far as Griffiths, whose powerful shot blasted off the head of McGovern.

    McGregor then shot over but it only took until the fourth minute for Celtic to break the visitors’ resistance. Stuart Armstrong was fouled on the left and when he swung the resultant free-kick into the box, Lustig rose highest to nod the ball in at the far post.

    Number two arrived five minutes later in spectacular style from the right foot of Bitton. Collecting McGregor’s pass 30 yards from the goal the Israeli casually, with little backlift, unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner,  

    Hamilton simply couldn’t cope with Celtic’s pace and movement and they found themselves three goals down before 10 minutes had elapsed.

    Bursting into the box, Lustig’s cutback from the right was only partially cleared. Rogic showed more desire to reach the loose ball and held off his marker before seeing his shot deflected beyond McGovern by Michael Devlin. 

    Celtic were rampant and sensed blood. Griffiths had a shot blocked by Ziggy Gordon from an acute angle, before an untimely bobble denied the hit-man a clear run on goal.

    Armstrong and Izaguirre then combined brilliantly down the left and when the Honduran’s ball fell for Rogic, only a goal-line block from Devlin prevented the ball finding the net.   

    The Hamilton defender saved his side again moments later when he got in the way of Mackay-Steven’s rasping effort that looked to have beaten McGovern. Again, Izaguirre was the provider.  

    Midway through the half, Griffiths finally got in on the act. Mackay-Steven drove at the heart of the Accies backline and then supplied the 25-year-old with a precise pass and he made no mistake.

    Aside from a couple of speculative long-range efforts from Martin Canning’s side, the best coming from Ali Crawford, it was one-way traffic.

    Only a last-gasp challenge from Lucas Tacliapietra denied Bitton from a simple finish after he had fastened on to Lustig’s lofted pass. Ambrose was next to threaten, hooking over after Hamilton failed to deal with a corner.  

    Armstrong had another shot saved by McGovern, before Griffiths bagged his brace and, incredibly, made it 5-0 in the 33rd minute. After the ball had broken out to the right after yet another Celtic attack, Rogic and Griffiths remained alert while the Hamilton switched off: The Australian gathered the ball and lashed it across goal for Griffiths, who applied the finish.

    McGovern then made two excellent saves from Mackay-Steven and Lustig as the onslaught continued before half-time. The former Celt also reacted brilliantly to stop Griffiths’ deflected free-kick as the Hoops left the field at the break to huge cheers after a swashbuckling showing.

    With the game over, Ronny Deila withdrew Rogic, who picked up a knock, and Jozo Simunovic, with Scott Allan and James Forrest entering the fray. Nir Bitton moved to central defence.

    And the two substitutes linked up beautifully for goal number six - Allan rolled the ball into Forrest’s path and he side-footed the ball into the far corner.

    Almost straight from the restart, Celtic inflicted further punishment. Devlin’s clearance was charged down by Griffiths and the striker ran in on goal before coolly lobbing McGovern to claim his hat-trick.

    Bitton and Griffiths tried their luck from free-kicks after fouls on Allan and then Armstrong brought out a brilliant save from McGovern with a stinging shot.

    In the 65th minute, some slick interplay between Forrest and Allan saw the former lash goalwards, with another outstanding save from McGovern tipping the ball on to the top of the bar.

    There was no let-up as Celtic continued to carve out chance after chance. Brophy slotted home to give the weary travelling support something to cheer, slotting in from a tight angle, but McGregor’s fine strike ensured the champions finished with a flourish.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic (Forrest 46( Izaguirre; McGregor, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Rogic (Allan 46), Armstrong; Griffiths (Cole 65)
    Not Used: Bailly, Tierney, Ciftci, Commons

    HAMILTON (4-2-3-1) McGovern; Gordon, Devlin, Tacliapietra, Kurakins; Gillespie (Lyon 83), Mackinnon; Kurtaj (Imrie 46), Crawford, Docherty;  D’Acol (Brophy 61)
    Not Used: Martin, Morris, Garcia Tena, Nade

    Website Man of the Match: Callum McGregor


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