Andy Harrow looks back on Celtic’s comfortable victory over Hamilton on Saturday.
Christie continues to make his mark
It’s been a successful eight days for Ryan Christie. After starring for Scotland in two crucial Nations League victories, the former Inverness and Aberdeen midfielder rubber-stamped his importance to his club side with the opening goal in Celtic’s win at Hamilton.
Christie had scored in three of Celtic’s last four league games heading into Saturday’s fixture, but each one had been the final goal in a rout. In a short period of time Christie has progressed from marginalised squad player to crucial member of Brendan Rodgers’s team and his goal against Hamilton was somewhat symbolic of his increased influence; rather than crowning a victory, his neat finish after a short corner set the league leaders on their way to three points.
It’s unlikely to be the last significant impact he makes this season.
Hamilton didn’t turn up
After 18 minutes at the Hope CBD stadium, Celtic had amassed a whopping 82% of possession against Hamilton. By full time, it had dipped slightly, to 69%, but it still said more about the game than the actual scoreline.
While keeping hold of the ball doesn’t necessarily mean much on it’s own - more possession doesn’t necessarily equate to being the better team - in this case it was indicative of a game where Hamilton failed to compete anywhere outside of their own penalty box.
Martin Canning had sent his team out in what appeared to be a positive shape, deploying two strikers and offering options out wide, but if the team’s performance was offensive it was only in one sense of the word. Forwards Rakish Bingham and Mickel Miller spent much of the match 10 yards inside their own half, neither attacking nor defending; red-and-white landmarks of futility. When the home side did spring forward, they did so with all the surety of a side who knew they’d soon lose the ball.
Meanwhile Celtic players, many of whom had been involved in international action over the past week, were allowed to ease themselves back into domestic football, able to pass the ball about unimpeded.
While the result might not raise any alarm bells amongst the Hamilton support, the limp performance might.
Leigh Griffiths is back
The free-kick Leigh Griffiths hammered past Gary Woods was celebrated by the Celtic support only marginally louder than his introduction to the game five minutes earlier. While he’s had a frustrating, injury-flecked season to date which had seen him score only two league goals prior to today, Celtic fans are in no doubt as to his importance to the team.
While Odsonne Edouard has strengthened his hold on the lone striker role, Griffiths, when fit, continues to be a vital element for Brendan Rodgers’ side; either as a starter, or as an impact substitute against tiring defences. For his part, the Scotland striker seemed desperate to re-assert his worth at Hamilton. There was certainly no doubt who would take the free kick on the edge of the box which the striker expertly drove past a despairing Woods.