INVERNESS CT 0 CELTIC 4
MOUSSA DEMBELE struck twice to take his season’s goal tally to a remarkable 31 as Celtic won their 22nd successive domestic game with another exceptional all-round performance against Caley Thistle this evening.
The Hoops, of course, were held to a 2-2 draw by the Highlanders in September, but since that afternoon they have exacted full revenge.
Brendan Rodgers has seen his side win three on the trot and score 13 goals without reply.
Dembele, after his hat-trick in the 6-0 Scottish Cup mauling of Richie Foran’s side last month, has now claimed five in two games against the rock-bottom team who now face an almighty fight for survival in the top flight.
The breakthrough goal came just two minutes before the interval and was a superb combination of improvisation and individual skill from Scott Sinclair.
He collected in a pass as the burly Ross Draper made his presence felt. The Caley Thistle defender clattered into the attacker, who rode the challenge, recovered his poise when he looked to be heading for the turf and didn’t even look up as he struck the ball.
His effort, hit with power and precision from 20 yards, took off like a guided missile as it arced its way past the helpless Owan Fon Williams into the back of the net.
It was an excellent finish from Sinclair who displayed the awesome range of skills that have made him a frontrunner for Player of the Year awards at the end of the campaign.
Of course, one of his main rivals for any such accolades is team-mate Dembele, apart from his goal double, and he, too, showed some dynamic and deft touches against the Highlanders as he roamed around the frontline with menace in his every touch.
The French Under-21 international marksman is an obvious physical presence, but he demonstrated once again in the Highland capital he possessed the ability to hold the ball in and spread passes, short and long, as he probed for openings in a stubborn rearguard.
It took him only seven minutes to attempt to find his range when he fired in a low drive that was well gathered by Fon Williams.
Two minutes earlier, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong and Sinclair combined to set up Kieran Tierney just inside the box, but the left-back’s finishing effort curled a couple of feet over the bar.
Nir Bitton looked off the pace in the opening minutes and was slack and sloppy in possession, but the Israeli rode the rough spell to come through unscathed.
Sinclair’s timing was perfect when he contrived to open the scoring just before the turnaround and his partner Dembele put the Highlanders to the sword when he doubled the Hoops’ advantage an amazing TEN SECONDS after the turnaround.
Caley Thistle restarted the game, the ball was worked back to keeper Fon Williams and he made a complete mess of trying to hoof a clearance up the park.
The ball spun up into the air, Dembele anticipated it superbly as he raced in, lobbed it over the stranded Welshman’s flapping arms with his left foot and applied the killer touch with the right as he nonchalantly rolled the ball home.
In the 66th minute, the prolific hitman was sent crashing by a crude challenge from Louis Lang that earned the defender a yellow card.
It didn’t get any better when Armstrong spotted the hapless Fon Williams out of position as he curled a 25-yard free-kick into the net for the third.
Six minutes later, Craig Gordon emphasised why he is such a crucial component in this Celtic set-up when he made a spectacular tip-over save from a vicious volley from 20 yards from Liam Polworth that was sizzling into the top corner.
In the 73rd minute, Dembele showed his class again as he raced onto a long ball from Tierney, controlled it in an instant, strolled forward, drew the keeper and then excellently lobbed it into the net for the fourth and final goal.
He looked for yet another hat-trick and blitzed one over the bar while Sinclair had two opportunities off target as he attempted to add to his goal tally.
Another game, another win and now it”s all eyes on St Mirren in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Parkhead on Sunday.
The silverware clean sweep is edging ever closer with every 90 minutes.
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown (sub: Henderson 78), Bitton; Mackay-Steven (sub: McGregor 69), Armstrong, Sinclair; Dembele.
WHEN WILL CELTIC WRAP UP THE TITLE THIS SEASON?
On March 1, Celtic moved 27 points clear of their nearest rivals, Aberdeen, after an emphatic 4-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. It’s safe to say that the Bhoys have their sixth-straight title in the bag. After all, Brendan Rodgers’ men only need seven points from the next 11 games.
But when will they wrap it up? Sky Sports thinks we’ll be crowned champions by April, and we’re inclined to agree…
The next league game is a big one: The Glasgow Derby at home to The Rangers on March 12. As it stands, The Rangers are third in the league on 46 points to our 79. They’ve lost seven matches and drawn the same amount.
By contrast, Celtic have won 26 of their 27 matches and drawn just once. The 2-2 draw against bottom-placed Inverness back in September was a surprise, so it shows that Celtic aren’t completely unstoppable.
The next game is away to seventh-placed Dundee on March 19th. Bet 365 offered 11/2 on a 3-0 win before the home match in December. Yet while Celtic only beat Dundee 2-1 at home, they were by far the better team. You’re likely to get even better odds on a 3-0 win this time around so keep an eye on bonuscode.co.uk for the latest free bet promotions – we’re predicting nothing less than an emphatic win for the Bhoys.
The next Premiership game after Dundee is away to Heart of the Midlothian. The Hoops thrashed Hearts 4-0 at the end of January and a similar score line is likely in the away match.
HOW DOES THE CELTIC OF THIS SEASON COMPARE WITH RECENT PAST GLORIES?
If our predictions are right and Celtic win each of their next three matches, this will take them to 88 points. This will also secure them the title. If this happens, Celtic’s sixth-straight title will also be on course to becoming their most emphatic…
Last season, they finished with 86 points – two points less than we’ll have by April if we do win the next three games as predicted.
The most number of points Celtic won over the last six years is 99 in 2013-14. With 33 points available from the next 11 games, Celtic may be on course for 112 points – a remarkable achievement.