Joe Ledley scored the only goal of the game as Celtic restored their four point lead at the top of the SPL but although the visitors didn’t force a save from Fraser Forster this was a tight encounter for most of the afternoon.
The opening minutes firmly belonged to Celtic. Georgios Samaras had a first minute shot deflected wide and Victor Wanyama headed narrowly over from the resultant Charlie Mulgrew corner kick. Inverness’ first venture up-field forced Mulgrew into an important interception on the edge of the area to deny Nick Ross.
The best move of the game resulted in the only goal. Gary Hooper combined with Adam Matthews before James Forrest collected wide on the left. The winger raced forward and fired the ball across the face of goal for Joe Ledley to meet it at the back post and knock the ball home. Back post runs have been particularly profitable for Ledley this season.
Four minutes later Charlie Mulgrew worked the goalkeeper with a free kick from just outside the angle of the box but Ryan Esson turned the ball over.
At half time Celtic could have reflected that despite enjoying the vast majority of possession their lead remained narrow; twin strikers Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper didn’t have much of an opening.
Early in the second half referee McLean had his first major decision of the day when Richie Foran wrestled Scott Brown to the ground, after play at stopped, with an arm around Brown’s neck. The incident deserved a yellow card but Foran was already booked and the ref took no action. Five minutes later Daniel Majstorovic ambled towards a ball played over his head but Inverness striker Jonny Hayes flew past the Celtic defender forcing Majstorovic into a sliding tackle five yards from his box. Despite making clear contact with the ball, and no protests from Hayes, who continued to chase, the assistant referee indicated to the ref McLean that Majstorovic fouled. McLean showed the Swedish central defender, who was the last man, a straight red card.
Inverness pressed forward and forced Celtic to defend deeply but the visitors were unable to create a genuine chance. On 73 minutes an Adam Matthews free kick from near the corner flag was cutback to Ki, who mishit his shot, which appeared to be going out for a throw in but Georgios Samaras chased the lost cause with some effect.
Catching the ball on the line Samaras spun and darted past Williams, who, already on a yellow card, bundled the Celtic striker off the field. The referee, perhaps mindful of his earlier trigger-happy moment with Majstorovic and failure to punish Foran, gave Williams a second yellow.
Back on an equal man-count Celtic were never again put under pressure although Hayes caught the defence napping to latch onto a 40 yard pass but fired over.
Jinky Samaras could have wrapped up the points late on with a mazy run but he was unable to convert.
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