Scottish Premiership
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Hamilton Academical 0-3 Celtic: Champions move two points clear at the top

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Highlights: Hamilton Academical 0-3 Celtic

Celtic extended their unbeaten Premiership run to seven games with a comfortable win at Hamilton, moving two points clear at the top.

In-form Ryan Christie shot the visitors into an early lead from a well-worked short corner routine.

After the break, Scott Martin turned in an own goal in an attempt to keep out a Scott Sinclair header.

And substitute Leigh Griffiths marked his return from injury by drilling in a late free kick.

A deflected strike from Christie clipped the outside of the post in stoppage time as Celtic strolled to victory.

The champions have scored 16 goals without reply in their past five domestic games as they warmed up for Thursday's Europa League visit to Rosenborg and next weekend's League Cup final.

Hamilton, who have lost 10 of their 14 league games, remain in 10th place, five points above the play-off spot.

Celtic cruise after Christie breakthrough

James Forrest was the Scotland hero with five goals in the wins over Albania and Israel, while team-mates Callum McGregor and Christie also impressed on international duty.

Those two combined for a smart opening goal on 13 minutes.

McGregor rolled a low corner into the feet of Odsonne Edouard, who returned it into the advancing midfielder's path with a neat back heel. McGregor then had time to pick out Christie, who slammed a rising shot high into the net for his fourth goal in six club outings.

Prior to the breakthrough, Accies were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Matt Kilgallon slipped while closing down Edouard, blocking the striker's cross with his arm.

The home side lined up with five at the back and camped deep in their own half from the first whistle, allowing Celtic to dominate possession. For long spells of the game the visitors knocked the ball around under little or no pressure.

Sinclair should have doubled Celtic's lead before half time when he ran on to Olivier Ntcham's lofted pass, but his tame effort was kept out by goalkeeper Gary Woods.

Accies showed a bit more bite in the second half but failed to muster a shot on target over 90 minutes.

Ntcham hammered an angled shot high into the side-netting before the second goal arrived. Sinclair met a Mikael Lustig cross with his head, and when Martin flicked out a leg to block he could only send the ball looping into the far corner of the net.

With 15 minutes remaining, Griffiths appeared for the first time since 7 October and the striker was soon celebrating as his raking free kick from the edge of the penalty area fizzed past Woods.

Analysis - When Scott Brown comes back, who do you leave out?

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on BBC Sportsound: "It was a decent display, another shut-out and the three goals will keep confidence high for the big games coming up. It keeps the momentum going.

"The Celtic full-backs were allowed to come forward under no pressure all afternoon. It was so easy for Celtic to keep the ball, although there was a lot of monotonous side to side. They were getting into good positions but overplayed in the final third a bit too often.

"When Scott Brown comes back, who do you leave out? Olivier Ntcham was a little bit rusty but Christie and McGregor were very good again - and then you have Tom Rogic as well."

Former Hamilton midfielder Derek Ferguson on BBC Sportsound: "Accies lined up with five at the back and four across the middle but I didn't see too many players going the extra yard, or prepared to go in where it hurts. They were playing with an element of fear and it was an absolute stroll for Celtic in the first 45 minutes. Without Darian MacKinnon they lacked that nasty streak.

"There was a bit more aggression in the second half but I expected more. Sometimes these are games you can enjoy because there's no expectation, no pressure."

Leigh Griffiths cracked in a late free kick to underline Celtic's dominance
Leigh Griffiths cracked in a late free kick to underline Celtic's dominance

Reaction - 'It looked like the first year I was here'

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: "Off the back of the international break you want to come back and get the points on the board as quickly as you can

"We had to generate the rhythm and intensity in our own game. I thought we did that really well, the passing was really crisp, and we could've been up by about three at half-time.

"We had trust in our position, and trust in our possession and our ability to get there. We've got our rhythm back, that's for sure, over this last period.

"The confidence players have gained from playing well, being creative, scoring goals, that performance looked like the first year I was here. The players came in, they really controlled the game, and they had that personality in the team to be aggressive."

Hamilton manager Martin Canning: "The plan was to try frustrate as long we could, keep ourselves in the game and give ourselves an opportunity to take something from the game.

"We lose two goals from set-pieces which is disappointing, it shouldn't have happened.

"And Scott Sinclair scored a header which he is not renowned for, I wouldn't expect that when I have Delphin Tshiembe and Aaron McGowan at the back post.

"We had half a dozen opportunities with set-pieces to put the ball in the box and we weren't able to make the most of it and in the end we were beaten by a top side."

Line-ups

Hamilton

  • 1Woods
  • 2McGowan
  • 5TshiembeSubstituted forKeatingsat 79'minutes
  • 6Kilgallon
  • 4Gordon
  • 7Imrie
  • 25MartinBooked at 81mins
  • 12TaiwoBooked at 87mins
  • 3McMannBooked at 57mins
  • 9BinghamSubstituted forBrustadat 75'minutes
  • 11Miller

Substitutes

  • 10Keatings
  • 16Enigbokan-Bloomfield
  • 21Want
  • 24Mucha
  • 30Boyd
  • 31Brustad
  • 46Sowah

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 20Boyata
  • 32Benkovic
  • 63TierneySubstituted forIzaguirreat 79'minutes
  • 42McGregor
  • 17Christie
  • 21Ntcham
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forMorganat 84'minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forGriffithsat 75'minutes
  • 11Sinclair

Substitutes

  • 3Izaguirre
  • 4Hendry
  • 9Griffiths
  • 15Hayes
  • 16Morgan
  • 27Mulumbu
  • 29Bain
Referee:
Don Robertson
Attendance:
4,688

Match Stats

Home TeamHamiltonAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home31%
Away69%
Shots
Home2
Away17
Shots on Target
Home0
Away4
Corners
Home3
Away6
Fouls
Home12
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Hamilton Academical 0, Celtic 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Hamilton Academical 0, Celtic 3.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ziggy Gordon.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Christie (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) because of an injury.

Booking

Thomas Taiwo (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Thomas Taiwo (Hamilton Academical).

Olivier Ntcham (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Lewis Morgan replaces James Forrest.

Goal!

Goal! Hamilton Academical 0, Celtic 3. Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.

Booking

Scott Martin (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Scott Martin (Hamilton Academical).

Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ziggy Gordon (Hamilton Academical).

Ryan Christie (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Emilio Izaguirre replaces Kieran Tierney.

Substitution

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. James Keatings replaces Delphin Tshiembe.

Thomas Taiwo (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Filip Benkovic (Celtic).

Dougie Imrie (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

Thomas Taiwo (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by James Forrest (Celtic).

Foul by Fredrik Brustad (Hamilton Academical).

Filip Benkovic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Fredrik Brustad replaces Rakish Bingham.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces Odsonne Edouard.

Attempt saved. Ryan Christie (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Corner, Hamilton Academical. Conceded by Mikael Lustig.

Goal!

Own Goal by Scott Martin, Hamilton Academical. Hamilton Academical 0, Celtic 2.

Attempt missed. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) header from the centre of the box misses to the right following a set piece situation.

Foul by Aaron McGowan (Hamilton Academical).

Filip Benkovic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Scott McMann (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

Attempt blocked. Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Scott Martin (Hamilton Academical).

Attempt missed. Kieran Tierney (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic139223062429
2Rangers1383235112427
3Hearts148241915426
4Kilmarnock147431912725
5St Johnstone147341618-224
6Aberdeen136341613321
7Hibernian135442314919
8Livingston135441210219
9Motherwell134271522-714
10Hamilton143110931-2210
11St Mirren142210826-188
12Dundee141211832-245
View full Scottish Premiership table

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