St Mirren Park, Paisley
Sunday, January 5, 2014
ST MIRREN 0
(Mulgrew 53, Stokes 58, Commons 70, 72)
KRIS Commons passed the 50-goal milestone in the green and white Hoops as he netted a brace and helped seal Celtic´s 4-0 win against St Mirren.
The comfortable victory in Paisley provided a second-half goal flurry, with Charlie Mulgrew opening the scoring and Anthony Stokes doubling their advantage before the star of the show, Commons, hit a double.
The win extends the Hoops´ unbeaten run to a remarkable 20 for the season and makes it eight consecutive domestic clean sheets.
Neil Lennon had made one change to the side that beat Partick Thistle on New Year’s Day, with Anthony Stokes coming into the starting XI at the expense of Teemu Pukki who dropped to the bench.
As the match settled into an entertaining end-to-end battle, both sides showed flashes of intent in their opposing final third.
St Mirren put the Hoops under pressure, but Celtic came closest to breaking the deadlock through Charlie Mulgrew on 14 minutes. His cross from the left almost dipped under the bar but Marian Kello got a hand to it.
And the defender, who was playing on the left side of midfield, came even closer on 25 minutes when his effort cracked off the post and bounced back into the hands of Kello.
James Forrest´s clinical runs down the right flank were opening the game up for Celtic but it was Commons who unleashed a wonderful chip on 32 minutes from just outside the box. Controlling the ball with his first touch, he sent a thundering effort off the inside of the post and was unlucky to see it bounce clear.
St Mirren executed their first chance on goal seven minutes from the break, but John McGinn fired his 30-yard effort over the bar. Danny Grainger was also unable to challenge Fraser Forster with a free-kick shortly after and the sides went into the break goal-less.
But the opener came eight minutes into the second half, and it came courtesy of Adam Matthews´ excellent drive into the box. He dribbled his way past St Mirren´s defence and back-heeled the ball into the centre of the penalty area. Mulgrew found space inside the crowded area and stabbed it home to put the Hoops into the lead.
And it didn’t take long for them to double their advantage. Joe Ledley played the ball in for Stokes and the Irishman clinically curled the ball beyond Kello and into the far corner.
But the St Mirren keeper came to their rescue on 65 minutes and denied Forrest the chance to set up Celtic´s third. Coming off his line, Kello kicked the ball clear with an acrobatic diving volley.
Scott Brown had other ideas, though, and came close to finding the net just seconds later. His effort was saved, before Stokes´ thunderous drive was also blocked by Kello.
But Celtic´s pressure paid off on the 70th minute when Commons, who had looked dangerous all afternoon, converted from the back post. He met Emilio Izaguirre´s cross and stooped to head it in for the Hoops’ third.
And just two minutes later Commons doubled his own tally, and extended the Hoops´ lead to 4-0. Receiving Forrest´s cut back from the byline, he thundered home a delightful strike, leaving Kello helpless.
The attacking midfielder came close to finding his third and completing his hat-trick on 78 minutes, but his ferocious drive was deflected just inches wide of the target.
St Mirren also came close inside stoppage time to creating a consolation goal. Efe Ambrose gave a free-kick away against substitute Anton Brady but McGinn sent the ball into the wall and Celtic rounded off the victory.
ST MIRREN (4-4-2): Kello; Naismith, McGregor, McAusland, Kelly; Newton, McGowan, McGinn, Grainger (Mair 75); Campbell (Reilly 85), Thompson (Brady 77)
Subs not used: Dilo, Van Zanten, Cuddihy, Williams
CELTIC (4-4-2): Forster; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Forrest (Balde 79), Brown (Biton 78), Ledley, Mulgrew (Boerrigter 75); Stokes, Commons
Subs not used: Zaluska, Rogic, Pukki, Fisher
Website Man of the Match: Kris Commons