In addition, two more goals for the unstoppable Moussa Dembele means he has now moved on to the 31-goal mark – with nearly three months of the season left. Finally, though, a figure almost rendered an irrelevance by Celtic’s crushing of all in their path, it needs be noted that their 27th straight domestic win in all competitions has also allowed them to move 27 points clear at the summit of the Premiership.
Celtic are relentless but last night they had unexpected help when they require no assistance. For the night will not be remembered with any great fondness by Inverness Caledonian Thistle keeper Owain Fon Williams. After the loss of a 43rd-minute opener to the brilliance of Scott Sinclair, a cautious opening to the restart resulted in the home side working the ball backwards, with Gary Warren rolling into the Welshman.
The keeper attempted to hoof upfield, but only succeeded in sending the ball spinning in the air. That allowed the on-rushing Dembele to flick it over his head and tap into an empty net.
It would be a stretch to say this was the pivotal moment of the evening since Celtic looked firmly on course for a successful trip beforehand. But, with the score 2-0, there was never any possibility of a comeback. To compound his agonies, a third goal just after the hour was the result of another aberration as Fon Williams should not have allowed a curling free-kick from Stuart Armstrong – however sweetly struck –- to beat him at his near post in the 73rd minute. That Richie Foran’s men did not suffer a 6-0 doing, as they had at Celtic Park in the Scottish Cup just over a fortnight ago, was down to slices of fortune. These followed Dembele bagging his second when he scooped the ball over the advancing Fon Williams from a terrific Kieran Tierney through ball with 17 minutes remaining.
Until Celtic turned the screw in the second period, it wasn’t a great spectacle at the Caledonian Stadium. Neither side could be particularly blamed for that fact. The encounter developed as if it were a training exercise where Inverness focused only on defence while Celtic provided the attack because the home side were penned in and unable to do other than seek to repel the advances of their rivals.
Celtic have recently struggled to produce the fluency and flair-filled finesse that have characterised large parts of their win-a-thon of a domestic season. That has brought no opponent closer to matching them but has stalled the time it has taken Rodgers’ side to get on top.
The Highland side defended stoutly and denied Celtic space with admirable efforts. Patently, their success over Rangers last Friday had given them a confidence injection – even if Hamilton’s win over Aberdeen on Tuesday ensured they enjoyed only the briefest respite from being the Premiership’s bottom-placed team.
Last night’s contest in the Caledonian Stadium had been framed by the fact that the 2-2 draw for Richie Foran’s men against Celtic on their own patch in September was the only domestic game Rodgers hadn’t led his team to a win in.
Even if the opener did not arrive until two minutes before the interval, there never seemed any realistic possibility Celtic would be denied at the ground a second time around.
As he has regularly throughout an immense first campaign in Scotland that hasn’t perhaps been given the deserved acknowledge because of the feats of Dembele, Sinclair was the man who proved the lock picker for Celtic to help themselves to another stash of league points.
As with so many of his previous 16 goals, not an awful lot looked on when he picked the ball up down the left channel 30 yards from goal.
That situation was transformed by the winger rounding opponents as if they were cones on a training field before swerving an unstoppable effort into the far corner.
The strike was greeted by the letting off of smoke bombs from the away end. It is only such supporter behaviour that appears capable of blotting the cloudless skies at Celtic.