CELTIC 2 HAMILTON ACCIES 0
CELTIC produced the old one-two with strike partners Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard hitting the goals that gave the team their first win of 2021.
The Hoops stopped the rot at the fifth attempt against stubborn Accies at Parkhead this evening where they dominated proceedings for the bulk of the encounter.
It had banana skin written all over it, but the champions hardly put a foot wrong as they displayed zest and vigour right from the off.
Griffiths got the opener in the 12th minute and Edouard added a second shortly after the interval, but Neil Lennon will also be pleased with the performances of wing-backs Kristoffer Ajer and Greg Taylor who stormed down the flanks all night.
The towering Norwegian was a candidate for Man of the Match with his pulverising running on the right as he added his strength to the attack at every opportunity.
The first flash of menace from the Hoops came in the ninth minute when Taylor raced clear and picked out Edouard in the clear.
The French ace snapped a shot at goal, but his effort was blocked by Brian Easton and the Accies defence smuggled the ball clear.
NUMBER ONE…Leigh Griffiths flashed in the crucial opener.
The breakthrough goal arrived three minutes later from Griffiths after being set up by Mohamed Elyounoussi 25 yards out. He sized up the situation in a flash before thundering a low left-foot drive past the sprawling Ryan Fulton at his left-hand post.
It was a typical strike from the 30-year-old Scotland international and it took him onto the seven-goal mark.
In the 17th minute, Griffiths then had an astonishing miss smack in front of goal after Callum McGregor had cut back a perfect pass from the left touchline. It looked like a simple tap-in, but the ball went through the legs of the forward and the chance went abegging.
The champions, roared on incessantly by gaffer Lennon from the touchline, continued to take the play to Accies and a deft free-kick from David Turnbull set up McGregor, but Fulton held on well to the midfielder’s sizzling low drive from outside the box.
Three minutes from the interval, a couple of step-overs from Edouard opened up an opportunity 20 yards out, but Fulton reacted splendidly with a swift dive to his right to push the ball round the post.
Moments later, another chance fell to the striker, but his toe-poke from 12 yards was held by the Accies keeper.
NUMBER TWO…Odsonne Edouard makes no mistake with the clincher.
Edouard had better luck three minutes after the turnaround after he had been sent through by Griffiths. He got the break of the ball from a defender, quickly regained his composure and left Fulton without a chance as he rattled the net from 12 yards.
Griffiths and Turnbull had efforts save shortly afterwards while Scott Bain, given the nod instead of £4.5million Vasilis Barkas, made an excellent reflex save to get down to his right to touch a deflected shot from Marios Ogkimpoe round the upright.
In the 69th minute, Lennon made a double substitution with Griffiths and Turnbull coming off and Albian Ajeti and Ryan Christie introduced to the action.
Tom Rogic came on for Edouard with Five minutes to go as the game edged towards a satisfying conclusion.
It was no classic, but Celtic needed to embrace that winning feeling again and, thankfully, they got their reward on this occasion.
TEAM: Bain; Ajer, Bitton, Duffy, Taylor; Soro, Turnbull (sub: Christie 69), McGregor, Elyounoussi; Edouard (sub: Rogic 85), Griffiths (sub: Ajeti 69).