Celtic 6-0 Inverness CT

Celtic could not be contained and were only limited by the accuracy of their finishing as they swept past Inverness.

Anthony Stokes struck an accomplished hat-trick, with three more goals coming from Leigh Griffiths, Efe Ambrose and Teemu Pukki.

Despite being comfortable on the ball, Inverness ended up looking beleaguered.

They had no answer to Celtic, and Aaron Doran's second-half penalty was saved by Fraser Forster to cap a galling occasion for the visitors.

The remaining targets for these two teams are self-imposed.

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Interview - Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Celtic's competitive instincts are being honed by the ambition to finish with more than 100 points, while Inverness want to claim more points than last season, with each place they climb in the table bringing higher prize money.

There was an opportunity, too, for individuals to thrive, with Celtic in particularly starting with a line-up that was arguably the strongest they could select even with a full squad to choose from.

There will be alterations over the summer as players arrive and depart. Even so, this will be the core of the side that attempts to reach the Champions League group stages in the summer qualifying rounds, and there was cause for optimism.

The front three, with Stokes and Griffiths in front of Kris Commons, were deft, full of movement and guile, and clinical. Commons was the orchestrator in the early stages, but then Stokes grew to prominence and the game began to revolve around him.

Pukki's late strike wrapped up an impressive win for the Scottish Premiership champions

The opening goal - a Stokes header from Griffith's corner - came either side of three excellent Dean Brill saves.

The Inverness goalkeeper was agile as he kept out a Commons effort from close range, a fierce Stokes shot from distance and then Adam Matthews, who tried to squeeze a shot inside the goalkeeper's near post.

If Brill's involvement was indicative of the game's nature, it was telling also that one Inverness counter attack ended with the midfielder Ross Draper passing the ball back to his own goalkeeper.

Inverness were capable of some neat and constructive passing exchanges, but they ran out of purpose in the final third. Sitting so deep, they were also vulnerable to periods of pressure, and one ended with a Griffiths cut back that Commons could not connect with.

The ball ran to Stokes, though, and he fired it into the net.

Inverness retained their idealism, but it was occasionally a hindrance. The intention was to always play the ball out of defence, but Greg Tansey was careless with one pass, which Stefan Johansen intercepted.

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Interview - Inverness CT boss John Hughes

As the Norwegian surged into the penalty area, he was tripped by Gary Warren, and Stokes converted the penalty with aplomb for his treble.

There was no limit to Celtic's ambition. It was briefly interrupted when the visitors were awarded a penalty after contact between attacker Billy McKay and defender Virgil van Dijk, even though there was no discernible foul.

Forster dealt with the spot-kick anyway, saving from Doran.

Hitting the woodwork twice in 10 seconds, through Stokes and Van Dijk, was a reminder to Inverness of the challenge they faced, then Griffiths scored with a shot across Brill.

An Ambrose header - after which he made a point of celebrating with the departing assistant manager Johan Mjallby - and a Pukki strike completed the scoring.

It was chastening for Inverness, but a reminder of the slick assurance Celtic are capable of.

As It Stood

4Dundee Utd35169101957
5Inverness CT3515812-153
6St Johnstone3515713952
7St Mirren359818-1935
9Ross County359719-1934
10Partick Thistle3571315-2034
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