Grif­fiths pro­pels Celtic 11 pts clear

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Run­away lead­ers Celtic fur­ther ex­tended their lead at the top of the Scot­tish Pre­mier­ship with a 10 de­feat of Hamil­ton at Celtic Park on Tues­day.

A first-half strike from Leigh Grif­fiths was enough to claim Celtic’s 10th con­sec­u­tive vic­tory and con­demn Hamil­ton to their first de­feat in six games. The Hoops now hold an 11-point ad­van­tage over Rangers, hav­ing played two games less than their fierce Glas­gow ri­vals.

Aberdeen missed the chance to nar­row the gap to sec­ond-place Rangers when their game against Mother­well at Pit­to­drie was aban­doned due to flood­light fail­ure.

De­spite the vic­tory, Celtic man­ager Bren­dan Rodgers thought his side had not been at their usual stan­dard. “I think through­out most of this sea­son we’ve per­formed at a re­ally high level, but some games we haven’t,” the for­mer Liver­pool man­ager said. “Tonight was one of those games that we didn’t quite hit those heights, but we showed a great desire and per­sis­tence to keep go­ing and we got the job done in the end.”

Hamil­ton man­ager Martin Can­ning thought his side had been ex­cel­lent. “I thought their work-rate was dif­fer­ent class and they did what they were asked to do,” he said. “It is a dif­fi­cult place to come and it would’ve been nice to get some­thing from it. But to come here and per­form that way, I think the boys de­serve some credit.”

Celtic had gone into the first of three con­sec­u­tive home games on the back of three com­fort­able away wins where they had racked up nine goals.

DEM­BELE AND GRIF­FITHS COM­BINE

Hamil­ton were well aware of the threat the Glas­gow giants could pose, hav­ing been thrashed 8-1 on their last visit to Celtic Park in Jan­uary. How­ever, the vis­i­tors have shown them­selves hard to beat this sea­son fol­low­ing five con­sec­u­tive draws, and proved dis­ci­plined in de­fence in the early stages.

Grif­fiths had grabbed a hat-trick on Hamil­ton’s last visit on his way to clock­ing up 40 goals last sea­son, only to find his op­por­tu­ni­ties more lim­ited this sea­son un­der Rodgers. But a goal in his last run-out against Partick This­tle saw him keep his place in the start­ing line-up as he part­nered the in-form Moussa Dem­ble up front.

It was only the sec­ond time the pair had fea­tured to­gether from the start and the gamble paid off as they com­bined for the only goal in the 36th minute. Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional Tom Rogic threaded a through ball for Dem­bele to chase and the French for­ward squared to Grif­fiths, who held off the chal­lenge of Grant Gille­spie to fire into the empty net.

The Scot­land in­ter­na­tional nearly had a sec­ond be­fore the break as he raced onto a ball in the box, only to ar­row a shot nar­rowly wide from a tight an­gle. The chances be­gan to come for Celtic at the start of the sec­ond half, with Grif­fiths blast­ing over from a Roberts cut­back be­fore Dem­bele was off-tar­get with a header as he blocked an at­tempted clear­ance. Stu­art Arm­strong then scuffed a shot wide af­ter rac­ing into the box to col­lect a pass as the Hoops continued to be frus­trated in front of goal. Sub­sti­tute Ea­monn Bro­phy squan­dered a late chance for Hamil­ton when he fired wide af­ter elect­ing to shoot when team-mate Ali Craw­ford ap­peared to be in a bet­ter po­si­tion.—AFP

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