Celtic in­crease lead with win in In­ver­ness

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

IN­VER­NESS: Celtic in­creased their lead at the top of the Scot­tish Premier­ship to seven points fol­low­ing a hard-fought 3-1 win over In­ver­ness Cale­do­nian This­tle yes­ter­day.

Cal­lum McGre­gor cel­e­brated his first league start in over a year to open the scor­ing in the sev­enth minute to fol­low up his strike in the 2-1 Europa League de­feat to Ajax on Thurs­day.

Miles Storey grabbed an ex­cel­lent equaliser for In­ver­ness in the 39th minute be­fore Leigh Grif­fiths re­stored Celtic’s ad­van­tage in the 59th minute.

For­mer West Ham for­ward Carl­ton Cole was handed his Celtic de­but and played a part in help­ing the Hoops get a con­tro­ver­sial third in the 85th minute as he bun­dled the ball in off In­ver­ness de­fender Danny Devine for an own goal. It means Celtic move seven clear of Aberdeen, who leap­fogged Hearts into sec­ond place af­ter the Jam­bos could only man­age a 2-2 draw with Mother­well on Satur­day. McGre­gor was re­warded for his per­for­mance in the dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to Ajax that knocked Celtic out of the Europa League on Thurs­day and the mid­fielder helped the Hoops get off to a fly­ing start in the High­lands.

The 20-year-old picked up a pass from Nir Bitton in his own half and ran at the re­treat­ing In­ver­ness de­fence be­fore let­ting fly with a low drive from 20 yards that went into the bot­tom right-hand cor­ner of Owain Fon Wil­liams’ net.

In­ver­ness al­most had an in­stant re­ply as Gary War­ren got his head to a cor­ner that was only kept out by the chest of Craig Gor­don. Celtic were soon handed an­other op­por­tu­nity but Mikel Lustig sent his free header wide from Stu­art Arm­strong’s cor­ner.

How­ever, it was In­ver­ness who equalised in the 39th minute. Arm­strong was robbed of pos­ses­sion on the half-way line and a quick break saw Storey burst for­ward be­tween two Celtic de­fend­ers. Simunovic’s chal­lenge broke off Storey and was stopped by Gor­don but the In­ver­ness player was alert enough to slam the re­bound be­yond the Celtic ‘keeper.

Bitton then sent a pow­er­ful swerv­ing shot just wide as the sides went into the break level. Celtic brought on Scott Al­lan early in the sec­ond half and the mid­fielder made an in­stant im­pact as he helped set up Grif­fiths to re­store Celtic’s ad­van­tage on the hour mark.

Al­lan played a weighted pass to Kieran Tier­ney whose cut-back from the by-line was slammed home by the Celtic striker. Cole re­placed Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional Tom Rogic in the 61st minute and the for­mer West Ham striker came close to im­me­di­ately open­ing his ac­count for the Scot­tish cham­pi­ons but his down­ward header from McGre­gor’s cross was pushed over the bar by Fon Wil­liams.

In­ver­ness still posed Celtic a threat and when Greg Tansey’s cor­ner came off Bitton it needed the in­ter­ven­tion of Ste­fan Jo­hansen on the line to stop the hosts grab­bing an equaliser. Celtic grabbed a late third in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances as Cole, who was fol­low­ing up a Grif­fiths strike, ap­peared to han­dle the ball on to Devine who knocked the ball into his own net. — AFP

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