CALLUM McGREGOR and Cameron Carter-Vickers went into last night’s crucial Premiership confrontation against St Mirren with three league goals between them all season.
However, at the end of another tense evening in the east end of Glasgow, the skipper and the on-loan central defender were the marksmen who maintained Celtic’s three-point advantage with nine games to go in the pursuit of their tenth title in 11 years.
The American international almost ripped the net away behind Jak Alnwick to claim the barrier-breaking strike 10 minutes after the turnaround when he volleyed in a ferocious effort from close range.
And McGregor made certain of victory when he drilled in the second with nine minutes to go.
I’M IN CHARGE…Callum McGregor led the way against St Mirren.
Before the encounter with the Paisley outfit, the midfielder had netted the winner in the 2-1 success over Aberdeen at Parkhead in November while the powerhouse defender, who agreed a season-long loan from Spurs in August, had scored on his debut in a 3-0 triumph over Ross County in September and again in a 3-1 triumph at Hibs the following month.
Reflecting of a well-deserved and hard-fought three points after the goalless stalemate at Easter Road on Sunday, McGregor said: “It’s an important win to get back on track after the weekend draw.
“I thought the boys played some good football and started the game really well.
“We just lacked the bit of quality to get the goal, but it’s difficult when you’re playing against 10 men sitting in and trying to break them down.
“We get the goal from a setplay and we kill the game at the end. It’s an important three points and we had to get back on track, get that winning feeling again and keep going until the end of the season.”
McGregor praised fellow-hitman Carter-Vickers and, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “We started the second-half well and the goal was our reward for that persistence.
JOY BHOY…Cameron Carter-Vickers celebrates the opening strike against St Mirren.
“It’s always hard, even the best teams struggle to break teams down and sometimes you need that bit of luck when the ball falls in the box, but it’s a great finish from Cameron.
“He’s done it a couple of times this season and he’s a big player for us. He has come in and done unbelievably well.
“The second settles the game. I thought we were reasonably comfortable in possession anyway, but when it’s 1-0 the other team always has a chance.
“It was an important time of the game to kill it off and we saw the game out really well.”
Celtic now face Livingston in West Lothian on Sunday and it must be hoped McGregor, Carter-Vickers and their team-mates bring their shooting boots with them – remarkably the Hoops have yet to score a solitary goal against their opponents in the previous two games this term.
There was a 1-0 loss on their plastic pitch in September and an 0-0 draw at Parkhead the following month.
It is time to rectify that sorry situation.