Hamilton 1 - 4 Celtic: Roberts and Edouard shine in comfortable win

Celtic's Scott Sinclair, left, celebrates his second goal with Odsonne Edouard and Patrick Roberts. Picture: SNS
Celtic's Scott Sinclair, left, celebrates his second goal with Odsonne Edouard and Patrick Roberts. Picture: SNS
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This was far from the work out Celtic might have preferred prior to an appointment with Paris Saint-Germain. It resembled Tuesday’s assignment only in being played under floodlights.

READ MORE - Hamilton 1 - 4 Celtic: Roberts and Edouard shine in comfortable win

After a near fortnight off for internationals Brendan Rodgers’ side eased back into action with a straightforward win at Hamilton to extend their run to 54 domestic games unbeaten. This was a bulletin of news that was able to be delivered at half-time after first an opener from Stuart Armstrong and double from Scott Sinclair.

Odsonne Edouard marked his debut with a goal in the second-half and completed his first 90 minutes for his new club. Alex Gogic scored what was very much a consolation goal for Hamilton near the end.

Celtic make a perhaps ominous move to the top of the league. It might well be a temporary situation on this occasion, with more Premiership action to come today.

After being sinned against last Monday when spat upon by a Maltese defender Scott Brown was the sinner here, appearing to flick a boot out at Hamilton defender Ioannis Skondras in the first-half.

But it was only a fly in the ointment as Celtic luxuriated in the knowledge of having made the points safe by half-time.

Armstrong struck for the first time for Celtic since signing his new contract and Patrick Roberts showed glimpses why Rodgers showed patience in securing him on loan once more.

Two side-footed finishes set Celtic on their way. First Armstrong steered a shot into the far corner and then Scott Sinclair made it seem equally as easy, pushing a shot past Gary Woods from 14 yards.

As for Edouard, Hamilton on a Friday night might not be why he agreed to sign for Celtic. But it represented a game of football at least - his first taste of competitive action since turning out for Toulouse for the last time in January.

Celtic, playing an attacking 3-4-3 formation seemed designed to make up for their lack of fit defenders, were rampant at times.

Edouard looked initially uncomfortable on Hamilton’s artificial surface but he’s not for the first and won’t be the last. Once he found his feet he gave every indication that he’s another astute piece of business by Rodgers.

It was a long, long evening for Hamilton and their fans. Two goals down within half an hour they wanted to at least make to half-time without suffering any further damage. Even this meagre ambition went awry when Sinclair scored his second of the night four minutes before the interval.

There was little the home side could do to stop a team intent on wrapping things up as quickly as possible. There’s such a quick turnaround before their next appointment that PSG had to feature in the visitors’ thoughts.

Going from Hamilton to Paris would have been a greater extreme. But the different circumstances they will encounter when hosting PSG just a few short miles away at Parkhead on Tuesday still represents a huge leap for Celtic. The French side fielded a front four worth £454 million in their own Friday night assignment against Metz.

Celtic’s back three of Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Kieran Tierney were given Rakish Bingham and promising Hamilton forward Steven Boyd to occupy them.

Unbeaten in their last three league outings, Hamilton had a right to feel they were not destined to be cannon fodder. But this is how it turned out on another occasion when Celtic’s qualities were to the fore.

It’s dispiriting for their rivals to return after the international break to find a Celtic team that has been augmented in attack, the area where they were particularly strong in any case.

Roberts was quick to shine on his return. Rewarded with the No 7 shirt after re-signing on loan last month, he relished playing for supporters who clearly adore him. His trickery when showing a clean pair of heels to Scott McMann down Celtic’s right flank helped the visitors on their way.

Roberts’ squared to McGregor, whose shot was blocked by Skondras.

McGregor picked up the rebound and transferred the ball back to Armstrong, who advanced into the box before making room for himself and sweeping past Woods.

It was a goal from the moment the ball left his right foot.

New boy Edouarde had a part to play in the second goal after Simunovic’s nicely weighted ball through the middle to the French striker. A McMann tackle saw the ball break kindly to Sinclair, who stroked home with ease.

Hamilton could not even make it to the sanctuary of the dressing room without falling further behind. There was misfortune involved.

Greg Docherty’s attempt to dispossess Sinclair saw him poke the ball against his own post. It might have come back out again or it might have gone out for a corner. Instead the ball ran along the face of the goal and was slammed in at the far post by Sinclair, who’d been alert enough to continue his run.

Sinclair came close to securing his hat-trick in the second half but it was Edouard who wrapped things up for Celtic, sliding the ball under Woods after 65 minutes. The Hamilton fans were admirably resilient and were rewarded for staying put when substitute Gogic headed in Ali Crawford’s corner with four minutes left.

READ MORE - How Patrick Roberts fared on his second debut for Celtic