Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic1HamiltonHamilton Academical0

Celtic 1-0 Hamilton Academical

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at Celtic Park
Leigh Griffiths celebrates scoring against Hamilton
Leigh Griffiths scored his 11th goal of the season

Celtic restored their 11-point lead over Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premiership with victory over Hamilton.

Accies' former Celtic midfielder Massimo Donati wasted a free header from a corner before the hosts scored.

Tom Rogic put Moussa Dembele clear and he unselfishly set up strike partner Leigh Griffiths to slot home.

Both wasted further chances either side of half-time and Stuart Armstrong and Rogic also went close before Eamonn Brophy missed a late chance for Accies.

It allowed the champions to record a 10th consecutive league victory for the first time since February 2014.

Celtic's double act

For all their individual talent, Griffiths and Dembele had started together only twice before this season, but Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers felt that upset the balance of his side.

He was convinced enough they could dovetail without diminishing the rest of the team, but there was still a sense of Rodgers embarking on an experiment at Celtic Park.

There was still width through the two wing-backs, and a familiar trio in central midfield, so the strike partnership had the foundations to work on. Dembele tended to play the more central, static role, while Griffiths drifted around the field looking for pockets of space in which to thrive.

They have been depicted as rivals for the single striker role favoured by Rodgers, and they often operated in isolation against Hamilton.

Their most significant combination was vital, though, as Dembele laid the ball into Griffiths' feet for the goal. Griffiths almost stumbled over it, but regained his poise to eventually drill a shot past Hamilton goalkeeper Gary Woods.

Even if the partnership never fully convinces Rodgers, he can profit from their effect the two forwards have on each other.

Both missed further chances before the interval, and there was also a clear hunger to Dembele in the second half when he chased down a short pass back, blocked Woods' clearance and almost headed the ball into the empty net after out-jumping Woods for the loose ball.

Griffiths also stabbed a Patrick Roberts cut-back over the bar from a good position.

Moussa Dembele sits on the pitch with Hamilton keeper Gary Woods
Dembele almost scored when out-jumping Hamilton keeper Gary Woods after chasing a loose ball

Fluidity in the Celtic ranks

Switching to a back three was merely an adjustment to Celtic rather than an upheaval. The team has become slick in various shapes, and they tended to hoard possession throughout the game.

In the first half, Scott Brown and Armstrong both speared excellent passes through the Hamilton defence for the lively Roberts.

After the break, a series of one-touch passes between Dembele and Rogic sent Armstrong through, but he skewed wide.

Mikael Lustig played as the right-sided figure in the trio of centre-backs, but also pushed upfield to act as an auxiliary wing-back, allowing Roberts to press forward.

Callum MacGregor also played diligently on the left flank, even though he is better equipped to perform as a central midfielder. The sense, as Gary Mackay-Steven came off the bench and was continually reminded by Rodgers to stand near the touchline, was of a team that is well-drilled and so capable of versatility that troubles opponents.

Hamilton hang in

There were times when Hamilton could only chase the game, but for spells in both halves they caused Celtic moments of discomfort.

Breakaways were rare, but one led to a first-half corner that Ali Crawford delivered onto the head of Donati, but his effort was too meek to trouble Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

In the closing stages, Hamilton became more assertive, with Crawford hitting two long-range efforts that didn't unduly trouble Gordon, before Brophy missed the chance to equalise late on when he shot just wide after a rare error in the Celtic defence.

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 5Simunovic
  • 28SviatchenkoBooked at 82mins
  • 27Roberts
  • 18Rogic
  • 8Brown
  • 14Armstrong
  • 42McGregorSubstituted forMackay-Stevenat 58'minutes
  • 9Griffiths
  • 10DembeleSubstituted forBittonat 83'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2K Touré
  • 3Izaguirre
  • 6Bitton
  • 12Gamboa
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 17Christie
  • 24de Vries

Hamilton

  • 34Woods
  • 6GillespieBooked at 80mins
  • 89Sarris
  • 21DonatiBooked at 74mins
  • 23McMann
  • 18MacKinnon
  • 10RedmondSubstituted forLongridgeat 80'minutes
  • 8Docherty
  • 11CrawfordSubstituted forCunninghamat 88'minutes
  • 7Imrie
  • 15BinghamSubstituted forBrophyat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9D'Acol
  • 17Longridge
  • 20Brophy
  • 28Cunningham
  • 29McGregor
  • 33Hughes
  • 35Thomson
Referee:
Crawford Allan
Attendance:
55,076

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamHamilton
Possession
Home64%
Away36%
Shots
Home15
Away5
Shots on Target
Home2
Away2
Corners
Home12
Away2
Fouls
Home10
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 1, Hamilton Academical 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 1, Hamilton Academical 0.

  3. Substitution

    Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Ross Cunningham replaces Ali Crawford.

  4. Post update

    Gary Mackay-Steven (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Darian MacKinnon (Hamilton Academical).

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Eamonn Brophy (Hamilton Academical) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Leigh Griffiths (Celtic).

  8. Post update

    Massimo Donati (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Nir Bitton replaces Moussa Dembele.

  10. Booking

    Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Erik Sviatchenko (Celtic).

  12. Post update

    Louis Longridge (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Louis Longridge replaces Daniel Redmond.

  14. Booking

    Grant Gillespie (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  15. Post update

    Mikael Lustig (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Grant Gillespie (Hamilton Academical).

  17. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Grant Gillespie (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  18. Post update

    Attempt missed. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Eamonn Brophy replaces Rakish Bingham.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Moussa Dembele (Celtic).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic15141044123243
2Rangers179532317632
3Aberdeen1684428151328
4Hearts1776431211027
5St Johnstone166552219323
6Kilmarnock174671529-1418
7Ross County173861728-1117
8Hamilton1721051823-516
9Motherwell164482027-716
10Dundee174491422-816
11Inverness CT173682233-1115
12Partick Thistle163581826-814
View full Scottish Premiership table

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