Andrew Smith's Celtic verdict: Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard delivered glimpse of what might have been
What was unusual about Celtic’s return to winning ways was how normal it all seemed.
There was a vibrancy, fluency and rhythm to the play in a win more comprehensive than the 2-0 scoreline against Hamilton Accies that belied the fact they were on their longest run without a league win in almost 20 years. It would be easy to point out that, in facing Hamilton, they were at home to a team joint-bottom of the Premiership. The modest nature of opposition, though, has not been an impediment to them falling short of what’s been required of them in this calamitous season.
A fifth straight encounter without posting a three-point haul never looked likely. Ultimately, that was down to the fact the Celtic line-up comprised one element missing in their recent trio of tied outcomes: the frontline partnership of Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths.
Whatever the defensive shortcomings that have rendered Neil Lennon’s managerial tenure at Celtic of the lame duck variety owing to 23-point chasm held by Rangers, Steven Gerrard’s men might have at least have had a challenged to deny the Parkhead club a tenth straight title had the pair fit and engaged at the same time for more than a fraction of this campaign.
The Hamilton encounter was only their fifth league game they had started together. Outside of the freakish defeat at Ibrox – when both were denied by the brilliance of Allan McGregor – one or both have scored to land Celtic victories.
How it all unfolded
It was a case of the double-dunt against Accies. Griffiths bagged his fifth league goal in only six starts to give his team a jag with a typically emphatic finish in 12 minutes. Little seemed on when he was played in by Mohamed Elyounoussi 22 yards out, but his goal antennae was twitching as he powered a left-foot drive low to the right of Ryan Fulton.
Celtic then camped in Hamilton’s final third as a host of chances went abegging. But the victory was sealed in the opening minutes of the second period when Griffiths delivered a perfectly-weighted through ball for Edouard to ride a Jamie Hamilton tackle, round the visiting keeper, and rifled the ball high into the net from close in.
There are some Celtic supporters who will open their curtains in the morning and, if it is raining, curse Lennon for the fact so completely have they set their faces against him. They were grumbling pre-match when he explained his decision to select Scott Bain in goal with a radio interview in which he appeared to question the recent displays of the deposed Vasilis Barkas. The Scotland international rewarded Lennon with a clean sheet wherein there were only two real scares. That was a product of the much-maligned Shane Duffy proving pretty sound in front of him, and Ismaila Soro mopping up smartly in midfield.
Celtic: Bain, Ajer, Bitton, Taylor, Duffy, Turnbull (Christie 69), Soro, Turnbull, Elyounoussi, Griffiths (Ajeti 69), Edouard (Rogic 85).
Hamilton: Fulton, Hamilton, Martin, Easton, Hodson, Odoffin, Stirling (Winter 74), Callachan (Minnaugh 87), McMann, Ogkmpoe (Martin 56), Moyo.
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