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HAMILTON 0 – 2 CELTIC

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ADAM MATTHEWS scored a Goal of the Season contender as he led Ronny Deila’s side to victory at New Douglas Park.

The defender hit a rasper to open the scoring and Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell would have been happy to claim that blockbuster.

Matthews’ magic moment arrived in the 33rd minute at a crucial stage with hard-working Hamilton making Celtic fight for every inch of space on their tight pitch.

Liam Henderson started the move on the left when he pushed the ball in front of the lively Leigh Griffiths.

A quick sway of the hips took him inside the defender and he pushed the ball across to Kris Commons.

Matthews, on the opposite wing, anticipated the ball from the midfielder and he took a touch when it arrived and, at the gallop, he unleashed an unsaveable effort high into the roof of the net from 18 yards.

Michael McGovern, a former Celtic back-up keeper, did his best as he launched himself across his line, but he had no chance as the ball sizzled high in at the top corner.

Matthews doesn’t score too many, but when he does they are well worth the wait.
His Welsh international team-mate Gareth Bale, the Real Madrid superstar, couldn’t have done any better.

Just before the breakthrough goal, Craig Gordon again underlined his value to the team.

He was bumped as he came for a high cross and the ball broke for Dougie Imrie to nod it goalwards.

Jason Denayer, playing his first competitive game after being injured in November, got his angles mixed up and sent a header towards his own net.

The keeper pawed it away from under the crossbar and completed the save when he blocked a close-range effort from Mikael Antoine-Curier from two yards.

Celtic were good value for their lead at the interval, but 1-0 is never a comfortable scoreline.

Thankfully, Henderson hit the goal that knocked the stuffing out of dangerous opponents five minutes after the turnaround.

Matthews was again instrumental in the effort with a good run and cross from the right.

The defence didn’t deal properly with the danger, Emilio Izaguirre got in ahead of Imrie to prod the ball forward and Henderson swivelled on the edge of the box to thunder a low left-foot shot wide of the helpless McGovern.

It was an exquisite finish from the youngster.

Eight minutes later Gordon produced a fine save as he plunged low to his left to turn away a netbound effort from Imrie.

Celtic controlled the game for lengthy periods with captain Scott Brown playing extremely deep.

Stefan Scepovic, on for Kris Commons in the 79th minute, had a reasonable opportunity when he was sent clear by Nir Bitton.

However, the Serbian frontman was slow to react to the pass, failed to control the ball and the chance was lost.

And Griffiths came close to capping a fine individual performance with a wicked right-foot angled drive, but McGovern sprawled to save.

A word, too, about referee Steven McLean. He handled the game well and was satisfied to issue a quiet word of warning instead of immediately going for the cards.

He booked Celtic captain Scott Brown and Stefan Johansen and Accies’ Grant Gillespie and Stephen Hendrie and no-one could have a complaint.

Overall, though, this was an impressive display from a Celtic team that pressed the opposition right from the start.

The reward of more goals and more emphatic scorelines will surely follow.

TEAM: Gordon; Matthews, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Bitton, Brown; Commons (sub: Scepovic 79), Johansen, Henderson (sub: McGregor 66); Griffiths..

 
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