Match ends, Celtic 1, Inverness CT 0.
Celtic 1-0 Inverness CT
- Celtic leapfrog Inverness CT in Premiership
- Caley Thistle drop to fourth on goal difference
- Swede Guidetti keeps up scoring run
- Zaluska makes vital late save
Celtic moved closer to the summit of the Premiership with a deserved victory over a dogged Inverness CT side.
Only a single strike was required, and it came from John Guidetti, with his ninth goal in seven matches, which moved Celtic above their opponents.
The breakthrough came early in the second half and reflected Celtic's dominance of the ball and the game.
Inverness pressed hard for a leveller, though, and a late Lukasz Zaluska save preserved the home side's lead.
Tenacity was the first requirement of Celtic. They hoarded possession against a Caley Thistle team that set out with restraint as its purpose, lining up with five in midfield and leaving Marley Watkins to forage around up front on his own.
The result was a challenge to the home side's ingenuity, since the Inverness defenders sat so deep that there was little room for the Celtic attackers to find space behind the back line. Celtic came closest through long-range efforts, with Mubarak Wakaso seeing one effort deflected wide, while Virgil van Dijk and Anthony Stokes both struck efforts from around 30 yards but missed the target.
That kind of threat would not have alarmed the visitors, but Inverness were seldom able to break upfield with intent, either. They admirably kept trying to build passages of possession carefully and precisely from the back, but with Celtic eager to press high up the pitch, Inverness often failed to move the ball out of their own half.
It was not unusual, for instance, to see an Inverness counter end with the ball being played back to Dean Brill, the visiting goalkeeper. At the other end, Zaluska was making a rare start for the first-team with Craig Gordon nursing a slight injury, and an early moment of panic when he dropped a shot from Graeme Shinnie apart, the Celtic goalkeeper had little cause for concern.
Even when Zaluska was briefly discomfited, when Josh Meekings turned the ball back across goal by hooking it over his shoulder, Jason Denayer was able to head clear on the goal-line. Inverness's most coherent moment came just before the interval, with a crisp passing move that ended with Shinnie sweeping the ball over from the edge of the penalty area.
These were temporary breaks in the general pattern of the game, though, since Celtic were comfortable while they dominated the ball. Reward came early in the second-half, and Inverness were riled by frustration and self-admonishment.
A move by the visitors broke down in midfield, with Ross Draper stopping to claim a foul. Anthony Stokes broke upfield regardless, then fed Guidetti, who made space to shoot before sending Brill the wrong way with a smart finish.
Tempers were briefly inflamed, since Guidetti twice claimed for a penalty moments later, the second after claiming that he had been tripped inside the area. This prompted a furious response from Draper, and both were booked for squaring up to each other.
The single-goal lead was merited for Celtic, but it became increasingly fragile. Having dominated for so long, Celtic allowed slackness to undermine them. That encouraged Inverness enough for the visitors to feel that an equaliser was possible, and there were three times when they felt it was directly within reach.
Carl Tremarco headed over from close range, but could at least claim that he was put off by Van Dijk's defending, as they clashed heads at the same time. Billy McKay, on as a substitute, also had an opportunity from inside the six yard box, but couldn't apply enough strength or purchase on his touch, and the ball drifted wide.
The final intervention came from Zaluska, who punched the ball away as Tremarco and McKay surged towards a knock-down, when a single touch would have been enough to divert the ball in.
- 23LustigSubstituted forMatthewsat 63'minutes
- 5van Dijk
- 21MulgrewBooked at 90mins
- 32WakasoBooked at 58minsSubstituted forMcGregorat 71'minutes
- 9GuidettiSubstituted forGriffithsat 80'minutes
- 18TremarcoBooked at 59mins
- 4VincentSubstituted forMckayat 70'minutes
- 8DraperBooked at 51minsSubstituted forDoranat 83'minutes
- 19WilliamsSubstituted forChristieat 70'minutes
- Craig Thomson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Celtic 1, Inverness CT 0.
Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Lukasz Zaluska.
Attempt saved. Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt saved. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic).
Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a corner.
Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Charlie Mulgrew.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Carl Tremarco.
Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Greg Tansey (Inverness CT).
Attempt missed. Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Substitution, Inverness CT. Aaron Doran replaces Ross Draper.
Foul by Scott Brown (Celtic).
David Raven (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces John Guidetti.
Foul by John Guidetti (Celtic).
Ross Draper (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Billy McKay (Inverness CT).
Attempt blocked. Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.
Substitution, Celtic. Callum McGregor replaces Mubarak Wakaso.
Substitution, Inverness CT. Billy McKay replaces James Vincent.
Substitution, Inverness CT. Ryan Christie replaces Danny Williams.
Attempt missed. Jason Denayer (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Carl Tremarco.
Attempt blocked. Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.
Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Emilio Izaguirre.
Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the right.
Substitution, Celtic. Adam Matthews replaces Mikael Lustig.
Attempt saved. Anthony Stokes (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.
Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) is shown the yellow card.
Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT).
Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Mubarak Wakaso (Celtic).