Match Reports 2014-19



UEFA Europa League

Group E

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Celtic Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…3

(Morgan 21, Christie 45, Johnston 74)

RENNES…1

(Hunou 89)

NEIL Lennon’s Celtic side made more history as they swept aside Rennes 3-1 at Paradise to guarantee top spot in a European group for the first time. The win took Celtic’s points tally in their Europa League group to 13, the highest number of points ever achieved by a Hoops side in European competition. 

The visitors proved difficult to break down in the early stages and it took until the 18th minute before Edouard Mendy was properly tested in the Rennes goal. Olivier Ntcham struck an explosive shot from distance but the keeper dived low to deny the French midfielder.

Midway through the first half Celtic’s attacking pressure began to trouble Rennes more, particularly down the left flank, with Greg Taylor and James Forrest working well together, and the pair were instrumental in opening up the opposition defence for the opening goal.

Taylor slipped a pass in behind for Forrest to run on to and the winger immediately cut a pass back across the face of goal. Lewis Morgan got between two defenders to steer the ball in at the near post for his first goal at Paradise.

With the momentum of the goal behind them, Celtic almost doubled their lead minutes later. Ntcham pounced on a clearance on the edge of the box but Maouassa’s sliding block took some of the sting off the shot, allowing the keeper to make a fingertip save.

Celtic were in clear control and dominated the play throughout the first half, with the French side rarely threatening Fraser Forster.

Morgan almost scored a second shortly before the break when he rose high to get on the end of Moritz Bauer’s cross but the 23-year-old’s header was too close to the keeper.

However, Ryan Christie ensured his side went into half-time with a score which better reflected his side’s superiority when he doubled the lead just before the break. Brown headed the ball forward to Christie who quickly worked his way to the edge of the area and drilled a shot in at the near post.

James Forrest made an impressive attempt to score his 14th goal of the season with a wonderfully-taken volley early in the second half. Christie’s out-swinging corner fell kindly to Forrest on the edge of the penalty area and his first-time strike looked to be heading for the bottom corner before it was blocked.

Rennes were more active in attack in the second period and the game opened up more as both sides went in search of goals.

That meant Fraser Forster was called upon to protect Celtic’s lead and the Hoops stopper played a crucial role in protecting Celtic’s lead.

He made an impressive point-blank save and he steered the rebound on to the post. The Englishman then made two saves in quick succession as Rennes enjoyed their most fruitful spell going forward midway through the second period.

It didn’t take Celtic long to reassert their control on the game as the Hoops retained possession and began pressuring their opponent’s goalmouth.Mikey Johnston marked his return from injury when he replaced Forrest on the left wing and the young winger scored less than 10 minutes after coming on.

An intricate piece of passing between Johnston and Ntcham just outside the box opened up the Rennes defence and a quick drop of the shoulder allowed the young Celt to get away from his marker and drilled a shot across goal.

Leigh Griffiths came on late in the game and did well to create some space for himself while surrounded by two defenders to force a good save from the keeper from 18 yards.

At the other end, Rennes grabbed a goal back in the final minute through Adrien Hunou but it did nothing to dent what was a stellar performance in Celtic’s final home game of the group. Neil Lennon’s side will travel to Romania in two weeks to face Cluj, having guaranteed top spot in Group E.

CELTIC: Forster, Jullien, Taylor, Brown (Bitton 76), Bauer, Morgan, Christie (Griffiths 79), Ntcham, Ajer, McGregor; Forrest (Johnston 66)

Subs: Gordon, Sinclair, Rogic, Robertson

RENNES:Mendy, Nyamsi, Siebatcheu, Guitane (Da Cunha 64), Siliki, Bourigeaud, Maouassa, Tait (Gboho 79), Gnagnon, Castillo, Boey (Hunou 79)

Subs: Salin, Da Silva, Doumbia, Gelin

Scottish Premiership

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Celtic Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…4

(Edouard 19, Brown 57, Forrest 65, 91)

LIVINGSTON…0

CELTIC marked their return to action with a dominant 4-0 win against Livingston at Paradise. The international break did nothing to interfere with the team’s current form as the champions overran their opponents with an excellent display of attacking football.

Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring in the first half, while Scott Brown doubled the lead early in the second period. James Forrest followed that up with a brace to complete the scoring.

The visitors defended well in the early stages and limited Celtic to just a couple of chances in the first 15 minutes. The impressive Jeremie Frimpong was the first to test Matija Sarkic in the Livingston goal but, after cutting inside to get sight at goal, the full-back’s effort was straight at the keeper.

Forrest let loose with a looping volley 25 yards from goal which looked to fizzing towards the net before it was blocked at the expence of a corner.Tom Rogic’s creativity began to yield more chances in front of goal as first half progressed.

He teed up Callum McGregor on the edge of the penalty area with a deft flick on, but McGregor didn’t get enough on the shot and Sarkic comfortably saved the attempt.

Moments later Rogic emerged with another good piece of creative play which did yield a goal. This time the Australian sliced open the Livi defence with a through ball from just inside the opposition half.

Edouard timed his run perfectly, dribbled into the box and held off a challenge before chipping the ball over the keeper to put the Hoops in front.The game opened up more after the opener and Celtic began penetrating the opposition defence with more frequency.

A dummy by Christie on the edge of the penalty area allowed the ball to run on to Rogic but the midfielder’s left-footed shot towards the far post was too close to the keeper.

The majority of Celtic’s attacking play in the wide areas came from Frimpong, who was excellent throughout the entire 90 minutes, on the right, but Forrest was increasingly threatening as the half wore on. He had a shot from a tight angle saved and then handed Edouard a great chance for a second with a lovely through ball.

Livingston should have found themselves trailing by more at the break had Celtic taken more of the chances they created. The best fell to Rogic who fired over the crossbar from close-range after Frimpong had done so well to beat Steve Lawson out on the byline and set up his team-mate.

Neil Lennon brought on Greg Taylor for Jonny Hayes five minutes into the second half and the Scotland internationalist almost scored within five minutes of being on the pitch. A quick one-two with Forrest on the left saw Taylor dart into the box but his shot from a tight angle hit the post.

Celtic’s pursuit for a well-deserved second goal came a couple of minutes later when Scott Brown was given enough time and space of the edge of the box to drill a shot on target which took a deflection on its way in.

Frimpong continued to torment Lawless out on the right wing with his pace and footwork. After getting away from his marker, the Dutch defender zipped in a great pass across the face of goal that was inches out of reach for Edouard.

He timed his run to leave Lawless for dead again as he burst on to a good through ball from Edouard. His shot was straight at the keeper but Forrest was in position to smash home the rebound on the volley.

Leigh Griffiths marked his return when he came on for Edouard with just over 20 minutes remaining. The 28-year-old came close to scoring not long after coming off the bench with a shot from 18 yards that was just over the crossbar.

There was no let off for the visitors as the game drew to its conclusion. Celtic continued to work hard to maintain the pressure on Livi and add to their lead.

Christie was denied a wonderful goal late in the game when Sarkic leaped across goal to palm over his strike that looked destined for the top corner. Christie made an excellent contribution right at the end when he picked out Forrest, who raced through on goal and finished at the near post.

CELTIC: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Hayes (Taylor 50); Brown, McGregor, Rogic (Ntcham 75), Christie, Forrest; Edouard (Griffiths 68)

Subs: Gordon, Bitton, Griffiths, Bauer, Morgan

LIVINGSTON: Sarkic, Lamie, Bartley, Pittman, Dykes, Lawless (Odofin 68), Crawford (Tiffoney 75), McMillan (Jacobs 68), Guthrie, Taylor-Sinclair, Lawson

Subs: Stewart, Robinson, Erskine, Souda


League Cup
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…2
(Johnston 54, Forrest 114)

DUNFERMLINE…1
(Beadling 78)

CELTIC edged past Dunfermline to book their place in the quarter-final of the League Cup thanks to a late James Forrest goal. The defending champions needed extra-time to overcome a well organised Pars side at Paradise.Mikey Johnston put Celtic ahead early in the second half before Tom Beadling drew the visitors level. Forrest then clinched the all-important goal in extra-time.

Unsparingly, Stephen Crawford’s side employed a deep-lying defensive set-up and their organisation proved effective early on as Celtic struggled to create any clear cut chances despite dominating possession.Neil Lennon’s men looked to overcome the lack of space in the final third with balls over the top and, with Leigh Griffiths’ tendency to play off the shoulder of the last defender, the Dunfermline defence had to work hard to curb the threat from the home side.

The visitors gave Celtic a scare, however, after a defence clearance was misjudged by Christopher Jullien allowing Kevin Nisbet to run through on goal. Craig Gordon rushed off his line and the 22-year-old, who scored 34 goals in the Championship last season, lifted his shot wide from an acute angle.

Jolted by the lapse in concentration Celtic then found their rhythm and began systematically picking apart the Pars defence with a variety of attacking opportunities.
Nir Bitton tested Ryan Scully with a couple of powerful strikes from distance but the Dunfermline stopper managed to push clear the shots.As the first half progressed Celtic turned up the pressure on their opponents who soon had to weather wave after wave of attack.
Odsonne Edouard’s movement and neat footwork proved a handful for the Pars and the Frenchman unlocked the tightly packed defence with a neat pass through for Boli Bolingoli. The full-back’s chipped pass across the face of goal was begging to be knocked in but went unanswered.

Similarly, Mikey Johnston’s skill troubled the opposition and the winger came close to scoring after cutting in from the left and taking aim for the near post only to be denied by a good save.Captain for the day, McGregor, almost opened the scoring, his side-footed effort was heading for the bottom corner before Scully rescued his team yet again.

A goal looked a certainty given the pressure Celtic were inflicting on Dunfermline and it took the defending champions less than 10 minutes after the restart to take the lead.
Johnston received the ball 25 yards from goal, looked up and noticed a small window of opportunity to beat the keeper. He didn’t hesitate and curled a wonderful shot into the top corner and over the keeper.

The goal completed a trio of accolades for Johnston who now takes credit for Celtic’s opening goal in the league, European competition and the League Cup this season.
There was no let up for Dunfermline following the goal and the visitors spend the remainder of the game on the edge of their own penalty box trying to intercept a stray Celtic pass and punt clear the danger.

Celtic nearly doubled the lead when Hatem Abd Elhamed’s cut back from the by-line flashed past Christie and Edouard.Dunfermline substitute Andy Ryan turned the game on its head when he won possession just inside Celtic’s half and managed to hold off McGregor as he tore towards the by-line. His cut-back was side-footed across goal and into the bottom corner by Tom Beadling.

Celtic urgently went in search of a second goal to restore their lead and avoid the game going into extra-time. Olivier Ntcham saw his thunderous strike from the edge of the area blocked before Bitton’s header came back off the underside of the crossbar. Christie collected the ball 20 yards from goal and quickly turned to let of a shot but he was u able to keep his effort down.

Jullien almost scored his debut goal in injury time but his header back across goal flashed just wide of the post and the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of regular time.
Celtic bombarded the Dunfermline goal in extra-time. Forrest had a great chance inside the box but failed to generate enough power and Scully saved comfortably. Edouard fired his attempt from the edge of the area over the crossbar and Christie headed over.

In the second period of extra-time Ntcham forced a fine save from the keeper with a powerful strike from distance and Scully dived low to push the shot around the post.
Forrest came to the rescue in extra-time to score the winner and book Celtic’s place in the quarter-final five-minutes before penalties. The Hoops winger collected the ball just inside the box and pulled the trigger. His shot took a slight deflection on its way into the far corner but the sense of relief that swept throughout Paradise was all that mattered.
CELTIC: Gordon; Elhamed, Jullien, Ajer (Ntcham 75); Bitton, Bolingoli (Hayes 95), Johnston (Morgan 115), McGregor, Christie; Griffiths (Forrest 55), Edouard
Subs: Hazard, Bayo, Shved

DUNFERMLINE: Scully, Comrie, Martin, Ashcroft, Beadling, Dow (Todd 110), Turner (Coley 65), Nisbet (McGill 84), Morrison, Paton, Edwards (Ryan 74)
Subs: Gill, Devine, McCann

Champions League Qualifying First Round- 1st Leg
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Asim Ferhatović Stadium

SARAJEVO…1
(Oremus 29)

CELTIC…3
(Johnston 35, Edouard 51, Sinclair 84)

CELTIC started their Champions League qualification campaign with a convincing 3-1 win against FK Sarajevo in Bosnia. The Scottish champions showed their quality in their response to going a goal down as they fought back and firmly asserted their superiority on the tie.

Mirko Oremus snatched the lead for Sarajevo on the half hour mark but Mikey Johnston quickly drew level for Celtic with a wonderful solo goal. Odsonne Edouard established a lead for Celtic early in the second half with a cool finish and Sinclair put the tie to bed late in the game.

The home side issued a warning sign early on when they hit Celtic on the break. Amar Rahmanović played in Anel Hebibović with a long diagonal ball from the left and the Bosnian midfielder found himself bearing down on goal with Boli Bolingoli in pursuit. Scott Bain came to Celtic’s rescue as he rushed off his line to block the shot.

Celtic quickly composed themselves and set about creating an opportunity of their own however that proved difficult with Sarajevo’s deep lying defence.

Possession belonged to Celtic for long periods in the early stages but Sarajevo were organised, defended their penalty box in numbers and counter attacked with pace.

Ryan Christie was one of Celtic’s most lively players in attack early on but the all important final pass would not come off for the Scottish champions in the last third.

Neil Lennon highlighted Sarajevo’s threat from set-pieces before the game, and the Bosnian side punished Celtic on the half hour mark from a corner. A lapse in concentration in clearing the initial cross saw the ball fall to Oremus on the edge of the six-yard box and the experienced Croatian lashed in from close range.

Six minutes after going behind Celtic drew level with an individual piece of brilliance from Mikey Johnston. The 20-year-old impressed in pre-season and carried that momentum into Celtic’s first competitive game.

He fought to hold on to possession in a tight pocket of opposition players 25-yards from goal. After coming out with the ball he spun away from a challenge and fired in a superb strike with his right foot beyond the keeper who had no chance.

The goal appeared to spur Celtic on and they piled on the pressure in the latter stages of the first half.Odsonne Edouard slipped a perfectly weighted pass in behind the Sarajevo defence for James Forrest to run on to. The Hoops winger evaded one challenge and had to pull the trigger quickly to get his shot off with the outside of his right foot but his effort rose over the crossbar.

Neil Lennon would have been somewhat frustrated to hear the half-time whistle given the attacking momentum and dominance Celtic were showing but his side picked up from where they left off following the restart.

Edouard gave Celtic the lead, and a crucial second away goal, five minutes into the second half after captain Scott Brown won back possession for his side. Sarajevo were undone with three quick passes and Edouard collected Forrest’s pass inside the box.

The French striker ran across the box, delaying his shot before cleverly lifting the ball over the keeper.It could have been two in quick succession for Edouard after Brown again won possession for Celtic in the opposition half. His pass would have released Edouard but the referee blew for a foul much to the disbelief of the Celtic captain.

Sarajevo had a brief foray attacking Celtic 20 minutes from the end with their best chance coming from full-back Dusan Hodzic’s whose 18-yard shot hit the side-netting.

Second half substitute Lewis Morgan tormented the home side with his attacking play on both wings late on. The Scotland international repeatedly got away from his marker and crossed good balls into the box from the by-line.

That led to Celtic’s third and final goal when Scott Sinclair, with his back to goal, collected Morgan’s cross from the right and back-heeled beyond the keeper from the six-yards.

Morgan showed fantastic vision to pick out Edouard late in the game with a wonderful pass. The French striker got beyond his marker just inside the box and fired across goal but the keeper managed to palm his effort away.

SARAJEVO: Kovacevic; Hodzic (Dokanovic 87), Ahmetovic, Hebibovic, Sabanovic (Tatar 66), Oremus, Lazic, Velkoski, Rahmanovic (Sisic 78), Milanovic, Serbecic
Subs: Mustafic, Guzina, Kurdic, Dizdarevic

CELTIC: Bain; Ajer, Simunovic, Bitton, Bolingoli (Hayes 56); Brown, McGregor, Forrest (Sinclair 78), Christie, Johnston (Morgan 64); Edouard.
Subs: Gordon, Ralston, Julien, Hayes, Griffiths

SEASON 2019-20 Above Hh

Scottish Premiership
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Ibrox, Glasgow

CELTIC…0

RANGERS…2
(Tavernier 2, Arfield 64)

CELTIC suffered their first domestic defeat of 2019 with a 2-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox. The Hoops failed to show the kind of form which earned them the league title last weekend as they struggled to create opportunities in attack.

Rangers capitalised on a slightly sluggish start from Celtic and managed to grab an early lead through a set-piece.
Ryan Kent won a free-kick for the home side early on when he was brought down on the corner of the area as he cut inside from the left wing. Tavernier curled an in swinging cross towards the back post which went unanswered and snuck in the bottom corner.

Bolstered by their early lead, Rangers pressed Celtic aggressively in the early stages. The Hoops soon regained their composure and began formulating attacks of their own but there were no real clear-cut chances and Wes Foderingham had little to do in the Rangers goal.

Much of Celtic’s early attacks came from the left wing where Jonny Hayes worked tirelessly to help out in both attack and defence. His first contribution was a cross in towards the near post for Edouard but it was intercepted by Nikola Katic.

Later Burke drifted out to the right and drilled a low pass across goal for the French striker but that too was cleared by the Rangers defence. Burke had a go himself when in possession on the edge of the penalty area but he was unable to keep his shot down.

Celtic struggled to retain possession for any significant length of time but they began to show more urgency in attack towards the end of the first half. Mikael Lustig was quick to pick out the run of Edouard and floated an excellent ball into the box for the Hoops forward but he uncharacteristically misjudged his first touch and the defence scrambled clear the danger.

The first attack from Neil Lennon’s side in the second half came through Bruke down the right when the winger sped down the wing and tried to cut a pass back into the box which was blocked by Katic. Rangers were lucky not to have been reduced to 10 men just before the corner was taken after Jonathon Flanagan elbowed Scott Brown in the face but the English defender received only a yellow for his misdemeanour.

Celtic’s play lacked the same level of intensity and aggression as shown by their opponents which led to them falling further behind. Glenn Kamara’s through ball was dummied by Jermain Defoe and Arfield reacted quickest to latch onto the ball and slip it beyond Scott Bain.

The Hoops stopper made a good save to prevent his side going further behind when he denied Defoe from close range.
With the final whistle fast approaching Celtic stepped up the pressure in attack.

Hayes showed the kind of aggression Celtic had lacked for much of the game with a neat piece of skill which saw him knock the ball round Tavernier and swing a cross into the six-yard box but, again, it was intercepted.

Celtic’s best chance of the game, and first shot on target, fell to Burke six minutes from time. Edouard was the creator with a brilliant piece of play which saw him outrun the Rangers defence, shrug off two defenders and cut a pass across the face of goal. Burke was there to meet it but the winger’s shot from the edge of the six-yard box was saved by Foderingham.

CELTIC: Bain; Lustig (Toljan 45), Simunovic, Ajer, Hayes; Brown, McGregor, Rogic (Ntcham 70), Burke, Johnston (Sinclair 65); Edouard
Subs: De Vries, Benkovic, Ralston, Bitton

RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Flanagan, Kamara, Jack, Davis (McCrorie 89), Kent, Arfield (Candeias 82), Defoe (Morelos 79)
Subs: Firth, Worrall, Halliday, Barasic

Scottish Premiership
Saturday, April 6, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
CELTIC…0
LIVINGSTON…0

CELTIC extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 14 points today (Saturday) with a goalless draw against Livingston at Paradise. But it was a day of frustration for the Hoops against a very defensive opposition.

Neil Lennon made four changes to the side that beat St Mirren at the Simple Digital Arena in midweek, with Tom Rogic, Ryan Christie, Filip Benkovic and Odsonne Edouard all re-entering the starting XI.

Livingston started well, as they stepped out from kick-off and sought to put the home side on the back foot. A header from Scott Pittman was blocked for a corner inside the first minute, and the ensuing set-piece was headered clear by Benkovic in the heart of the Hoops defence.

From there, the visitors sat deep with 10 men behind the ball as Celtic pressed from all areas of the pitch. On three minutes, Kieran Tierney fed Callum McGregor from the left wing, who then played a sharp outside pass to the overlapping Christie. The latter skipped inside, and fired off a shot that was blocked by Livi keeper Liam Kelly.

A few minutes later, Rogic and Edouard linked up well down the inside-left channel, but a well-disciplined Livingston kept the combined threat at bay in the final third.

On 12 minutes, James Forrest drifted inside from the right flank to find Rogic, who laid off Scott Brown in a central area. The captain’s side-footed effort zipped wide of the target, and a couple of minutes after that, Rogic and Forrest enjoyed a neat one-two that was ultimately overrun and cleared.

On 18 minutes, McGregor slipped in Forrest on the right, who fired the ball low towards the oncoming Edouard. The Frenchman’s first-time shot was well-stopped by Kelly, and a minute on, Forrest forced another fine save when he capped off a fine solo run with an outside-of-the-foot shot to the keeper’s right

Goalkeeper Kelly was named Livingston’s Man of the Match the last time the sides met in a goalless draw at the Tony Macaroni last November, and the stopper was again called to action on 24 minutes to deny Rogic. After another fine piece of dribbling from Forrest, Tierney was released on the left wing, before battering a low pass across goal that Rogic struck from 12-yards.

For the next quarter of the hour, Livingston continued to frustrate Neil Lennon’s side with some compact and stuffy defending, breaking rank only once when Dolly Menga struck from distance at Scott Bain.

On 38 minutes, Rogic came close to breaking the deadlock when he pounced on a loose ball, drove into the box, and let loose a curling left-foot that was again matched by Kelly.

Goalless at the break, the Hoops returned from the interval and continued to press deep into their opponents’ half. The visitors in turn packed their defence, before half-chances fell to Edouard and McGregor – one a header, the other a low shot dragged across goal – neither of which posed too much of a threat to the Livingston stopper.

Ahead of the hour, another half-chance fell to Tierney who, after latching on to a smart reverse pass from Rogic in behind the Livingston defence, struggled to get his shot away. On for Benkovic, Jonny Hayes sought to penetrate Livingston down the left flank, and provided the home side with a degree of width and speed in attack.

In the 68th minute, the Irishman received a wonderfully-weighted through-ball from Christie, before he floated a fine cross into the box that the visitors sent clear.
Minutes after that, Hayes fed a deep, searching high ball into the box that was miscued by substitute Timothy Weah.

Edouard jumped onto the loose ball to force another stop from Kelly, before the rebound was scrambled out for corner.
The Scottish champions continued to press for the opener, and were unfortunate not to go in front on 85 minutes when Scott Brown played a searching pass from deep inside his own half to the breaking Weah.

The young American showed great vision to play a first-time cross-pitch pass to the oncoming Edouard, who, in turn, forced another good block from the on-form Kelly.

Inside injury time, Celtic’s third substitute Olly Burke had a chance to put his side in front, but dragged his effort just wide. Goalless at full-time, the point sees Neil Lennon’s side climb 14 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership with just five games remaining.

CELTIC: Bain, Simunovic, Benkovic (Hayes 63), Ajer, Brown, McGregor, Rogic (Weah 71), Christie (Burke 83) Forrest, Tierney, Edouard
Subs not used: De Vries, Lustig, Sinclair, Ntcham

LIVINGSTON: Kelly, Lamie (Odoffin 46), Lithgow, Byrne, Pittman, Sibbald (Jacobs 65), Lawless, Halkett, Gallagher, Lawson, Menga (Robinson 54)
Subs not used: Stewart Erskine, Tiffoney, De Vita

Scottish Premiership
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Simple Digital Arena, Paisley
ST MIRREN…0
CELTIC…2
(Weah 14, Christie 85)

Celtic maintained their 13-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 2-0 win against St Mirren at the Simple Digital Arena tonight (Wednesday). Goals in each half from Timothy Weah and the returning Ryan Christie ensured maximum points away from home, in what was a convincing if occasionally hard-fought victory.

Hoops boss Neil Lennon made four changes to the side that defeated Rangers 2-1 last weekend, as Timothy Weah, Olly Burke, Jozo Simunovic and Emilio Izaguirre all returned to the starting XI.

Both teams pressed with aggressiveness in the opening stages, but neither side managed to carve anything clear-cut in the final third. Open-play was punctuated by a series of hard tackles before the first half-chance of the match fell to the Scottish champions.

Callum McGregor played in Kris Ajer behind the St Mirren defence, the Norwegian took a great striding touch into the box, but favoured power over placement to strike the ball over the bar.

From there, Neil Lennon’s men appeared to grow in confidence, and on 14 minutes broke the deadlock. Another devastating run down the right flank from McGregor released James Forrest, who matched Mikael Lustig’s overlap with a neat through-ball.

The Swede’s ensuing shot was stopped by the feet of St Mirren goalkeeper, Vaclav Hladky, and Timothy Weah headed the loose ball on to the underside of the bar and over the line.

As the half wore on, the Scottish champions played with typical intensity as they sprayed short and sharp passes around deep into their opponent’s half. St Mirren, in turn, sat deep, but on 19 minutes Celtic almost doubled their lead by way of some nice link-up play between McGregor and Olly Burke.

The 21-year-old received McGregor’s pass from the inside-right channel, burst into the box with admirable strength and speed, and fired the ball across the goalkeeper and out for a goal-kick.
Some dogged but well-organised defending from the home side followed, as the Hoops tried to penetrate from both wide and central areas.

Ahead of the half-hour mark, Emilio Izaguirre broke down the left wing, before forcing a near-post punch from Hladky. In an attempt to control the high ball, St Mirren’s Jim Kellerman handled, and Celtic were awarded a penalty.
Olivier Ntcham stepped up, struck the ball hard to the left of goal, but failed to beat Hladky at waist-height.

The Frenchman pounced on the rebound, but his shot hit the top-side of the crossbar and went over and out for a goal-kick.

The Hoops continued to play with similar pace and directness, and on 42 minutes a wonderful reverse pass from Ntcham allowed Weah to lose his marker on the edge of the box. The young American took a neat touch, but the ball was ultimately smothered by an on-form Buddies stopper.

Leading 1-0 at the break, the Scottish champions returned and continued to play sharp possession football in the home side’s half. On 49 minutes, a determined Burke carved a chance out of almost nothing, when he forced his way past his man to force another fine save from Hladky at close-range.

Moments after that, McGregor collected a loose ball on the edge of box before sending a low shot straight at the St Mirren goalkeeper. At the other end, the Buddies stepped out on the counter-attack, and Cooke forced a great one-handed save from Scott Bain to his left.
Ahead of the hour mark, St Mirren then carved their best chance of the game when Duckens Nazo again caught the Hoops on the backfoot, but The Haitian forward struggled to get his shot away, and Bain gathered at his feet.

On 65 minutes, Forrest and Burke combined on the right flank, before substitute Ryan Christie – on for Ntcham – forced yet another fine stop from Hladky from six yards. Ten minutes on, half-chances fell to both Christie and Weah as the two combined well in the final third.

With five minutes of normal time remaining, the Scottish champions doubled their lead when Christie forged a path into the box, fired a powerful right foot towards goal, and found the net with the help of a deflection.

Despite some resolute and often physical defending from St Mirren, Celtic saw out the remainder of the game to claim all three points. The win sees Neil Lennon’s side maintain a 13-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with six games now remaining – starting with Livingston at Paradise this Saturday.

CELTIC: Bain; Lustig (Benkovic 71), Simunovic, Ajer, Izaguirre; Brown, Nthcam (Christie 63), McGregor; Forrest, Weah (Edouard 78), Burke
Subs: De Vries, Toljan, Sinclair, Rogic

ST MIRREN: Hladky, Baird, Popescu, Kellermann (McGinn 76), McGinn (Lyons 63), Corbu, Cooke, Macpherson, Nazon (Jackson 71), Ferdinand
Subs not used: Dreyer, Jackson, Mullen, McAllister, Holmes

Scottish Premiership
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
CELTIC…2
(Edouard 27, Forrest 86)
RANGERS…1
(Kent 63)

IT was a day of drama at Paradise as Celtic beat Rangers 2-1 to extend their lead at the top of the Premiership table to 13 points. A first-half strike from Odsonne Edouard saw the Hoops enter half-time with their noses in front, before Ryan Kent equalised for the visitors against the run of play just after the hour-mark.

But James Forrest secured maximum points for the Scottish champions with four minutes of normal time remaining.
Both sides started well as they wrestled for possession all over the pitch. The first clear-cut opportunity fell to the Hoops when a blistering burst of pace from Tierney on the left was capped off with a cross deep into the visitors’ box. Olivier Ntcham pounced on the loose ball with a side-footed shot from six yards that was well stopped by Allan McGregor in goal.

A string of physical but fair tackles followed, with Jonny Hayes particularly strong in defence, before the Scottish champions forged another opportunity through Odsonne Edouard. After collecting the ball in a central area, the 21-year-old drove at the Rangers defence, before firing a shot that was spilled by the goalkeeper.

Play was momentarily halted ahead of five minutes when Kris Ajer suffered a head knock, but the respite did little to slow down the forward drive with which Neil Lennon’s men pressed their opponents.
A string of half-chances fell to Callum McGregor, Edouard, Nthcam during the next 10 minutes, the latter of whom combined well with the ever-tireless James Forrest on the right before firing a shot straight at McGregor.

On 22 minutes, a misplaced pass from Joe Worrall was collected by Forrest, who burst forward and slipped in Edouard through the middle. Connor Goldson cleared on this occasion, but the Hoops continued to press well as they mixed up their attacks from both wide and central positions.

On 27 minutes, Celtic broke the deadlock by way of a wonderful solo effort from Edouard, who received the ball from inside his own half, and drove at the Rangers defence. Brown matched the Frenchman’s run in support, before the striker coolly skipped outside and fired home with aplomb.

Paradise erupted, and as the Scottish champions sought a second, more drama unfolded when Alfredo Morelos was shown a straight red card for elbowing Scott Brown in the face.

Tierney was unfortunate not to double the home side’s lead on 38 minutes when a typically energetic run down the left flank was capped off with an equally powerful drive across goal that McGregor forced out for a corner.

Celtic went into the break deservedly in front and returned with similar hunger and vigour in the latter third. On for Hayes, half-time sub Sinclair linked-up well with Tierney and McGregor, before forcing a point-blank stop from McGregor on the left. Minutes later, Mikael Lustig sent a 25-yard shot fizzing just wide of the target.

The next 15 minutes saw much of the play held up in the middle of the pitch, before Ryan Kent brought the scoreline level when he capped off a fast and direct counter-attack for the visitors.
On 73 Tierney pulled up through injury and was replaced by full-back Jeremy Toljan.

Two minutes after that, and the Hoops found themselves down to 10 men when Boyata was also forced to retire early through injury.

As the Scottish champions entered the final 10 minutes of the match, they moved the ball forward with confidence, and with four minutes of normal time remaining, Forrest restored their lead.
After pouncing on a loose ball on the left flank, McGregor, now filling Celtic’s left-back role, found Edouard of the edge of the penalty area.

The Frenchman held up the ball with impressive strength of the edge of box, played the ball one-inside to Forrest, who steadied himself with a touch and fired left of the goalkeeper. The Paradise faithful matched the 27-year-old’s sublime strike with rapturous celebration.

Another flurry of aggressive challenges saw out the remaining five minutes of normal time, with centre-back Ajer faultless throughout. A well-deserved and, at times, hard-fought victory sees the Scottish champions extend their lead at the top of the Premiership to 13 points with just seven games remaining.

CELTIC: Bain; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney (Toljan 73); Brown, Ntcham (Rogic 64), McGregor, Forrest, Hayes (Sinclair 46); Edouard
Subs not used: De Vries, Simunovic, Burke, Weah

RANGERS: McGregor; Tavernier, Worral, Goldson, Halliday; McCrorie, Jack (Kamara 79), Arfield (Davis 87), Kent, Candeias (Defoe 83); Morelos
Subs not used: Foderingham, Katic, Flanagan, Coulibaly

Scottish Premiership
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
CELTIC…0
ABERDEEN…0

NEIL Lennon returned to Paradise as Celtic manager today (Saturday), where he and his side were held to a goalless draw against Aberdeen. The point re-established an eight-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, and extended the Hoops’ unbeaten domestic run in 2019.

The draw follows a dramatic 10 days for the Scottish champions, which saw Neil Lennon’s men overcome Hearts and Hibernian away from home last week, the latter win securing their spot in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup..

Both sides fought for possession in the opening stages of today’s game, with Celtic the more aggressive of the two. The Hoops progressively pushed the visitors deep into their own half, and created half-chances by way of low crosses from Kieran Tierney wide on the left, and Jeremy Toljan on the right in quick succession, both of which were duly cleared by the visitors.

Ahead of the 10-minute mark, some smart link-up play from Ewan Henderson and Oliver Burke on the inside-left channel led to a Celtic corner on the left. Tierney passed short to Henderson, who turned on the edge of the box and fired low towards the front post to no avail.

A well-structured Aberdeen continued to defend deep with 10 men behind the ball, and for the next quarter of an hour, Celtic varied their attacks from wide and central areas but struggled to unlock their opponents backline.

Burke looked a threat when playing long behind the Dons defence, and the Hoops’ next opportunity fell to Forrest. After breaking from inside his own half, Scott Sinclair laced an inside ball to the overlapping right-winger, whose shot was deflected out for a corner.

One minute after that, Scott Brown played an enticing defence-splitting pass to Sinclair that was well matched by Joe Lewis in goal. Moments later again, and Celtic centre-back Kris Ajer stepped out from back, drove at the Aberdeen defence and fired off a shot that was turned away by the fingertips of Lewis.

On 35 minutes, Forrest burst into the final third with typical directness to cross from the right flank, but his pass was too far in front of the oncoming Sinclair. Aberdeen continued to defend with discipline, but just ahead of half-time, Kris Ajer had a goal disallowed after being deemed offside from a wide-right Henderson free-kick.

Goalless at the break, both teams returned with a freshness and directness that was somewhat lacking in the first period. Substitutes Odsonne Edouard and Mikey Johnston, on for Henderson and Sinclair respectively, provided Celtic with new attacking options, as Burke simultaneously moved wide and Forrest switched to a more central position.

On 55 minutes, Aberdeen created their best chance of the game so far, when Connor McLennan pounced on a through ball behind Toljan, before the midfielder’s ensuing cross was cleared by Dedryck Boyata. Moments later, Greg Stewart recycled the ball from the left, but the Belgian centre-half again defended well.

Five minutes later, Toljan slipped in Edouard, who burst past his man and forced yet another fine save from Lewis. The 21-year-old Frenchman then pounced on the loose ball, crossed for Johnston but Aberdeen cleared their lines.

The visitors stepped out after the hour mark, which required level-headed defending from both Ajer and Boyata. On 68 minutes, the Hoops broke with Forrest in a central area, who in turn played it wide to Johnston on the overlap.

His out-swinging cross was too high for Burke and the visitors again cleared from the back.As the game entered its final 10 minutes, Timothy Weah, on for Burke, assumed the Hoops’ wide-right role with pace and vigour. On 81 minutes, Forrest forced a point-blank save from Lewis following a powerful through-ball from Bitton in centre-midfield.

Johnston and Tierney combined well down the left with five minutes of normal time remaining, before Weah failed to convert the latter’s cross. Moments later, a determined run from Johnston saw the 21-year-old hit the byline before shooting wide of the mark. Moments after that, and Johnston curled an ambitious right-foot effort past the post from outside the box.

Celtic pushed for a winner well into the dying minutes of the match, but it finished goalless as the Hoops re-established their eight-point lead at the top of the SPFL table.

CELTIC: Bain; Toljan, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Forrest, Henderson (Edouard 46), Sinclair (Johnston 46); Burke (Weah 77)
Subs not used: Gordon, Lustig, Hendry, Hayes

ABERDEEN: Lewis; Ball, Considine, McKenna, Lowe; Shinnie, Ferguson, Stewart (May 88), McLennan; Cosgrove, Wilson (Campbell 46)
Subs not used: Craddock, Gleeson, Halford, Devlin, Ross

Scottish Cup
Quarter-final
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Easter Road, Edinburgh
CELTIC…2
(Forrest 62, Brown 75)
HIBERNIAN…0

CELTIC booked their place in the Scottish Cup semi-final with a 2-0 win against Hibernian at Easter Road. The Hoops have struggled against Hibs in the capital in recent years but Neil Lennon’s side outplayed their opponents to come away with a convincing victory.

James Forrest fired Celtic ahead in the second half with a wonderful strike from the edge of the area. Scott Brown then put the game to bed with a powerful shot into the top corner.

The Scottish champions hadn’t won at Easter Road since January 2014. Neil Lennon was Celtic manager then and the Irishman’s team gave Celtic fans a night to remember tonight as they secured their place in yet another Scottish Cup semi-final.

Celtic immediately set about their opponents and created the first goal scoring chance just a couple of minutes after the referee had blown for kick-off.
Odsonne Edouard slipped a pass into the path of Oliver Burke who shot across goal with his left foot from inside the box. The keeper saved though and the danger was cleared before Scott Sinclair could pounce on the rebound.

Despite the buoyant start Celtic struggled to built any momentum from the early opportunity and it wasn’t until later in the half that they began to carve openings in the Hibs’ defence.
Celtic had prolonged periods of possession inside their opponent’s half but the home side were effective in closing the spaces when not in possession.

Paul Heckingbottom’s side left no room down the channels for either James Forrest or Scott Sinclair to work with. Forrest did manage to deliver a cross into the box for Edouard though.

With a drop of the shoulder he floated a cross onto the box for Edouard, but the Frenchman was pressured by two defenders and couldn’t generate enough power with his header.

The best chance of the half stemmed from a surging Scott Brown drive forward from the halfway line. The Celtic captain cut the ball inside to Forrest who played a through pass to Edouard.

He dribbled into the box but appeared to stumble at the crucial moment just as the keeper was rushing off his line.
Celtic quickly created a second opportunity shortly afterwards when Kieran Tierney delivered an excellent cross in to the back post for Edouard. The striker timed his run well and was poised to tap the ball in at the back post but Ofir Marciano flew off his line to punch clear and Olly Burke’s quick fire volley sailed high over the crossbar.

Both sides started the second half with a high tempo. Celtic were more assured in their attacking play while Hibs threatened on the counter attack.

Neil Lennon tweaked his Celtic side following the restart by moving Burke out wide and bringing James Forrest into a more central midfield position. Burke’s pace proved troubling for Lewis Stevenson at left-back and the 21-year-old forward was able to deliver a good cross into the box for Edouard early on.

The striker chested the ball down and readied a shot but the ball was stabbed clear before he could pull the trigger.
The Celtic pairing were a constant danger for their opponents who looked increasingly unable to deal with their qualities.

They linked up well to penetrate the Hibs defence when Edouard rolled the ball into the path of Burke with a deft backheel. Burke was brought down as he made for the penalty area but the referee waved play on.

Moving Forrest into the centre of midfield proved to be an astute tactical decision by Neil Lennon after the Hoops winger fired Celtic into the lead with his 15th goal of the season. The 27-year-old picked up the ball 20-yards from goal, skipped past two players and rifled the ball into the top corner with his right foot from the edge of the area.

Celtic seemed to tighten their hold on the game following the goal and piled the pressure on their opponents as they went in search of a second.

It came just over 10 minutes later when Brown doubled Celtic’s lead with a wonderful strike into the top corner. The Hoops captain evaded two opposition players as he ran across the box and rocketed the ball into the top corner with a powerful right footed strike.

Celtic’s dominance on the game grew as the final whistle approached and they continued to push for a third goal but the referee’s final whistle spared the home side who were ultimately outclassed by the defending champions.

CELTIC: Bain; Lustig, Boyata (Toljan 84), Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Edouard, Forrest, Sinclair (Johnston 75); Burke (Henderson 89)
Subs: Gordon, Hendry, Hayes, Weah

HIBERNIAN: Marciano, Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, Milligan, Slivka, Omeonga (Shaw 76), Horgan (Mallan 64), Kamberi, McNulty
Subs: Dabrowski, Bartley, Bigirimana, Mackie, Allan
Website Man of the Match: Scott Brown

Scottish Premiership
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
CELTIC…2
(Forrest 35, Edouard 90+2)
HEARTS…1
(Bozanic 55 pen)

NEIL Lennon marked his first game since returning as Celtic manager with an emphatic, brave and hard-fought victory against Hearts at Tynecastle tonight (Wednesday).

The Hoops opened the scoring with a brilliantly-worked first-half counter-attack that was completed by James Forrest, before the home side – down to 10 men following a rash challenge on Jeremy Toljan by Jamie Brandon in the first period – pulled level with a second-half penalty.

But two minutes into four minutes of second-half added time, substitute Odsonne Edouard showed great composure in front of goal to fire the Hoops into the lead, and secure all three points to maintain the Scottish champions’ eight-point lead at the top of the SPFL table.

As detailed at the manager’s afternoon press conference, assistant manager John Kennedy prepared the squad ahead of tonight’s match, which included two changes to the starting XI that defeated Motherwell 4-1 on Sunday. Neil Lennon, however, joined his new assistant manager in the dugout, alongside first-team coach Damien Duff.

Both sets of supporters were vocal from the outset, which set the tone for a fast and frantic opening 10 minutes. On the pitch, both sides wrestled for possession for the first quarter of an hour, but neither managed to get a foot hold on the game.

The Hoops passed and pressed well in front of the home side’s penalty area, but the first half-chance of the match fell to Hearts’ Olly Lee who forced a path into the box, before Kris Ajer and Nir Bitton combined to clear in front of goal.

At the other end, the Scottish champions carved a half-chance of their own, by way of a neat crossover between Forrest and Tojan on the right flank. A sharp one-two between the pair saw the 27-year-old midfielder slip in the German down the line, but his cross was cleared by the first defender.

The ball was immediately returned to Olly Burke, whose typically powerful turn of pace demanded a cool head from Christophe Berra in the box.
On 18 minutes, Scott Brown matched the intensity of the game with an equally ferocious drive outside the penalty area that Zdenek Zlamal did well to parry wide.

Hearts then turned the loose ball into a counter-attack, drove at the Celtic goal and forced a right-sided corner. Lee took the set-piece, Sean Clare met the ball with a side-foot volley, and Scott Bain was forced into a world-class, finger-tip save to push the ball round the post.

A handful of fouls by either side followed in the next 10 minutes, as the intensity and pace of the game failed to subside. Steven Naismith might have done better in front of goal on 32 minutes, after dispossessing Dedryck Boyata in the visitors’ final third, but saw his shot trundle wide.

Then, three minutes later, Celtic broke the deadlock with a wonderfully-executed counter-attack that began with Ewan Henderson and ended with James Forrest. The 18-year-old midfielder capitalised on a loose ball deep into his own half, before playing a deft through ball for Sinclair chase on the left.

The Englishman burst forward, played an inch-perfect first-time pass to the overlapping Burke on the inside-left channel, who in turn took a touch long towards the Hearts box, before unselfishly squaring the ball to Forrest in front of goal, who fired home with aplomb, much to the delight of the travelling support.

The goal allowed Neil Lennon’s side to step out further still, and on 40 minutes, Burke was unlucky not to double the Scottish champions’ lead. Some brilliant link-up play between the 21-year-old and Toljan on the right was capped off with two well-struck efforts that required a fine double-save from Zlamal in goal.

Ahead of half-time, the home side went down to 10 men, when Jamie Brandon was shown a straight red for a rash challenge on Toljan at the halfway line.

The Hoops went into the break defending a well-deserved lead, and returned with similar vigour. The 10-man home side responded with similar intensity and fought hard for possession, and on 55 minutes pulled level by way of a penalty.
Off the back of a Celtic counter-attack, Hearts replied with a long ball deep into the Celtic half, to which Boyata had claims for offside waved away.

A pass to Bain was moved on to Ajer, who then brought down Uche Ikpeazu with an outstretched leg. Substitute Ollie Bozanic duly scored from the spot.
With a man advantage, the Hoops enjoyed a spell of concerted pressure as they pressed Craig Levein’s side deep into their half in pursuit of a second goal.

Half-chances fell to Brown, Bitton and Toljan by way of off-target long-range efforts, but the next clear-cut opportunity arrived on 60 minutes, when Tierney fired a low ball across from the box from the left that the out-stretched Sinclair struggled to control six-yards from goal.

Minutes later, a typically fast piece of footwork from substitute Edouard was capped off by a strike just high and wide of the target.As the match entered its final quarter of an hour, a well-structured Hearts frustrated the Hoops with 10 men behind the ball, and defended in packs with discipline and aggressiveness.

Substitute Timothy Weah fired a shot high over the crossbar with five minutes of normal time remaining, before Edouard forced a strong hand from Zlamal in goal.
Celtic threw everything they had into the home side’s final third and were rewarded with a late winner, when tireless club captain Brown crossed for Edouard who, in turn, fired home in emphatic style.

The away support erupted and the Hoops ran down the clock with a well-deserved three points.

CELTIC: Bain; Toljan (Lustig 85), Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Forrest, Henderson (Edouard 61), Sinclair (Weah 79); Burke.
Subs: Gordon, Hendry, Hayes, Johnston

HEARTS: Zlamal, Souttar, Haring, Berra, Lee, Clare, Djoum, Naismith (Bozanic 46), Ikpeazu (Vanecek 79), Brandon, Godinho (Dikamon 85)
Subs not used: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Cochrane, Keena

Scottish Premiership
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
CELTIC…1
(Brown 90)
KILMARNOCK…0

SCOTT Brown fired Celtic to victory with a last-minute goal against Kilmarnock to secure a 1-0 win at Rugby Park. The Celtic captain’s goal helped the Scottish champions move eight points clear at the top of the table.

Brown’s half volley from the edge of the penalty area saw the Celtic captain score his second goal in consecutive domestic games for the Hoops.

Both sides showed a willingness to attack from the off and James Forrest linked up well with Jeremy Toljan out on the right to create Celtic’s first goalscoring opportunity of the game.

Some neat passing between the pair resulted in Forrest cutting into the box and rolling the ball to Edouard’s feet. With his back to goal, the Frenchman turned and got a shot off but it flew narrowly wide of the post.

Shortly after that, McGregor threaded a pass through to Ryan Christie who spotted Edouard’s run in behind the Killie defence. It was a good ball from the Hoops midfielder but Daniel Bachmann rushed off his line to block the shot.

Kilmarnock used their pace in wide areas to threaten Celtic on the counter-attack. The first attempt was an ambitious long-range strike from Eamonn Brophy which was off target.

Out on the right Chris Burke was the home side’s main source of attack. He gifted Brophy a golden opportunity midway through the first half after breaking away in possession, but the striker’s shot from the right side of the six-yard box was blocked.

Later in the first half Ryan Christie linked up Callum McGregor on the edge of the area with a lovely back-heel return pass, but McGregor slipped at the crucial moment and the keeper saved comfortably.

Jonny Hayes looked increasingly comfortable in the left-back position with a good defensive performance and some quality crosses into the Kilmarnock box.

Celtic settled into their attacking rhythm 10 minutes after the start of the second half as they increased the pressure on their opponents. Kilmarnock defended well, though, and didn’t allow Brendan Rodgers’ side any clear-cut opportunities.

They defended in numbers, packing the final third so as to deny Celtic any space to work with. The Hoops tried to find a way past them with quick passing on the edge of the area and they almost succeeded in doing so.

McGregor returned Christie’s pass with a chipped effort over the opposition defence, but the keeper was alert to the danger and pounced on the ball as it came into his six-yard box.

Christie came close midway through the second half from a set-piece from around 30-yards but his shot flew wide of the top corner.Celtic were handed an advantage with 15 minutes remaining in the game when Kirk Broadfoot was shown a straight red for a high-footed challenge on Brown.

The Hoops piled on the pressure in the final stages of the game as they desperately looked to take all three points. The best chance came from a Hayes cross into the box. Christie rose high to get on the end of it with a powerful header but he was unable to direct it on target.

Scott Sinclair tried to play Olivier Burke through on goal with a scooped pass over for the Hoops striker but it was a yard too far in front of him.

Vakoun Issouf Bayo made his Celtic debut as a late substitution and the Ivorian striker nearly scored with a deft flick at the near post from Timothy Weah’s low cross.

His effort won Celtic a corner which proved to be pivotal in determining the outcome of the game. Scott Brown latched on to Kilmarnock’s clearance from the corner with a half-volley which took a deflection and veered past the keeper.

The goal sent the traveling Celtic fans into hysteria and Brown’s celebrations with the fans saw him given a second yellow, leaving both teams with 10 men during injury time.

CELTIC: Bain; Tolja, Boyata, Ajer, Hayes; Brown, McGregor, Christie (Bayo 88); Forrest (Weah 76), Sinclair; Edouard (Burke 69)
Subs: Gordon, Lustig, Bitton, Okoflex

KILMARNOCK: Bachmann; O’Donnell, Broadfoot, S. Boyd, Taylor; Power, Dicker, Brophy (Bruce 76); Burke (McKenzie 84), Jones, McAleny (Millar 81)
Subs: MacDonald, K. Boyd, Waters, Tshibola

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Scottish Premiership

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Celtic Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…2

(Christie 24, Burke 63)

HIBERNIAN…0

CELTIC maintained their perfect start to 2019 with a convincing 2-0 victory against Hibernian tonight (Wednesday). The win saw the Hoops successfully defend their six-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership, in a match that marked Callum McGregor’s 50th game of the season for club and country.

Brendan Rodgers’ men moved the ball about with intent in the opening stages, and fought hard for possession in the middle of the pitch. On four minutes, Ollie Burke and Callum McGregor linked up well on the edge of the box, before the attacking midfielder’s powerful left-foot shot was blocked on its way to goal.

One minute later, Jeremy Toljan looked dangerous on the right flank when he sent a fizzing low ball across goal that was duly cleared by Paul Hanlon.

Hibs dealt well with the early pressure, as the Hoops continued to press via some great passing play between Toljan and Timo Weah on the right, and through McGregor, Ryan Christie and Scott Sinclair on the left. 

Playing on the right-side of midfield in place of the injured James Forrest, Weah looked equally confident defending at the opposite end.

On the 10-minute mark, Florian Kamberi carved a half-chance for the visitors, but the striker’s low ball was cleared at the front post by Dedryck Boyata. 

Four minutes after that, Christie dispossessed Mark Milligan 30-yards from goal, drove forward, and sent a shot high and wide of the target.

Moments later again, and McGregor showed great strength to turn his man on the half-way line, before lacing a well-weighted ball through to Weah, but the 18-year-old’s shot was matched by Ofir Marciano between the sticks.

The Scottish champions continued to push for an opener, and were rewarded on the 24th minute when another neat one-two between Toljan and Weah was rounded off with a smart cut-back to Christie. The 23-year-old steadied himself with a touch inside, before firing home across the keeper.

From there, the Hoops continued to press with similar intensity, and as the half-hour mark approached, Christie sent a wonderful ball over the top for Sinclair. The left winger struggled to get the ball under control, allowing Milligan to clear as far as McGregor.

The 25-year-old then sent the ball back into the danger area towards Weah, whose deflected shot forced another fine save from Marciano.

Brendan Rodgers’ side went into the break with a deserved lead, and returned with the same hunger in the final third. 

Five minutes after the interval, Weah and Toljan again combined on the right, but Sinclair couldn’t convert the 24-year-old full-back’s mid-height cross. On 56 minutes, Burke followed a bursting run down the left channel with a near-post drive, again handled well by Marciano.

Boyata might have doubled Celtic’s lead on the hour mark when he met an out-swinging Christie free-kick with his head, but Burke made sure of the Hoops’ second minutes later. 

A typically deft, defence-splitting pass from Christie found the feet of the 21-year-old, who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper with the help of a deflection off Darren McGregor, and sent the Paradise faithful into a frenzy.

The Scottish champions enjoyed a long spell of concerted pressure and possession, before introducing Mikey Johnston for Sinclair and Nir Bitton for Boyata with just over 15 minutes of normal time to go.

It looked like Vakoun Bayo might have made his debut at Paradise as he warmed up on the touchline, but a subsequent injury to Izaguirre instead saw Jonny Hayes replace the Honduran left-back.

Celtic saw out the clock comfortably to secure maximum points and successfully defend their six-point lead at the top of the SPFL table. Likewise, the Hoops’ continue their immaculate start to 2019, with six wins out of six, and 16 goals without reply.

CELTIC: Bain; Toljan, Boyata (Bitton 74), Simunovic, Izaguirre (Hayes 82), Brown, McGregor, Sinclair (Johnston 73), Christie, Weah; Burke

Subs not used: Gordon, Lustig, Bayo, Henderson

HIBS: Maricano, McGregor, Milligan, Hanlon, Gray (Johnson 64), Slivka, Gauld (Mallan 59), Mackie, Shaw, Kamberi, Shaw (McNulty 46)

Subs not used: Dabrowski, Nelom, Bigirimana, Omeonga


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William Hill Scottish Cup
Saturday, January 19, 2019

Celtic Park

CELTIC… 3
(Sinclair 36, 55, Weah 82)
AIRDRIEONIANS… 0

NEW Bhoy Timothy Weah made an instant impact at Paradise by scoring in Celtic’s comfortable 3-0 win over Airdrieonians in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, with a brace from Scott Sinclair ensured progression for the Hoops, as they marked their first game of 2019 with a convincing victory.

The Scottish champions pressed the visitors deep into their half from the outset, and controlled much of the possession with some fast, sharp and direct football. A searching pass over the top from Dedryck Boyata found Scott Sinclair inside the first minute, but the winger struggled to bring the ball down with his head.

Two minutes later, a wonderful long-ball from Filip Benkovic found Anthony Ralston on the right, whose touch inside found Oliver Burke. A neat piece of footwork allowed the 21-year-old to return the ball to the overlapping right-back, who forced a save at the feet of Airdrie goalkeeper David Hutton.

The Scottish champions continued to press their opponents deep, and their next half-chance came via Boyata. Sinclair collected the ball on the left flank, played the ball on to Callum McGregor, who found the Belgian centre-back in space on the edge of the penalty area. The 28-year-old fired a right-foot sh which soared high and wide over the crossbar.

A well-organised Airdrie frustrated the home side with 10 men behind the ball, before carving a half-chance of their own when Leighton MacIntosh forced a fine sliding clearance from Boyata on the break. On 29 minutes, a bursting run and cross from Emilio Izaguirre at the other end was met by Forrest on the volley, but Hutton gathered the ball at chest-height.

Just after the half-hour mark, Celtic were awarded a penalty when Izaguirre collected a loose ball following yet another aggressive run from Ralston on the right and was brought down. Sinclair’s spot-kick was struck low and hard to the goalkeeper’s right, but Hutton saved well at full stretch.

On 35 minutes, McGregor again picked out Ralston on the right, whose low cross was turned over by Sinclair in front of goal. Two minutes after that, Sinclair broke the deadlock when Burke forced a low save from Hutton, only for the 29-year-old Englishman to emphatically fire home from two yards.

Minutes from half-time, Airdrie orchestrated another counter-attack, which forced a series of great reaction saves from Scott Bain, to deny the visitors a barely-deserved equaliser.Brendan Rodgers’ men returned from the interval with the same intensity and confidence in possession, again regularly pressing their opponents deep into the final third. On 49 minutes, Hutton denied McGregor the chance to double Celtic’s lead, and a handful of half-chances for Christie, Burke and Forrest followed.

Ahead on the hour mark, Sinclair doubled his tally for the day, when a Christie corner was headered towards goal by Boyata. McIntosh’s block forced another reaction save from Hutton, but the Airdrie stopper spilled the ball into the path of the ever-clinical Sinclair, who struck the loose ball high into the net.

Burke continued to pose a threat in front of goal, and was unfortunate not to score on a couple of occasions. On 67 minutes, Hutton again saved well from the 21-year-old forward, and Scott Sinclair again found the net, but this time was ruled offside.

On as a substitute for Sinclair, it didn’t take long for Timothy Weah to get off the mark in Glasgow’s green and white when, on 82 minutes, a perfectly-weighted pass from Boyata allowed the 18-year-old to get in behind the Airdrie defence, and slip the ball under the opposing keeper.

Paradise duly erupted, and, five minutes later, Weah turned provider, but his whipped low-ball was just out of the on-coming Burke’s reach.
It was a comfortable performance from the Hoops, and a convincing start to the defence of the Scottish Cup.

CELTIC: Bain; Ralston, Boyata, Benkovic, Izaguirre; Forrest (Johnston 68), McGregor, Brown (Bitton 81), Christie, Forrest, Sinclair (Weah 68), Burke.
Subs: Gordon, Lustig, Ajer, Henderson

AIRDRIE: Hutton, O’Neil, MacDonald, Crighton, Milla, Gallacher, Stewart (Duffy 76), Campbell (Carrick 59), McIntosh, Wilkie (Glass 53), Edwards.
Subs: Mackenzie, Robertson, Page, Cairns


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Scottish Premiership

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pittodrie, Aberdeen

CELTIC…4

(Sinclair 6, 75, 87, Edouard 85)

ABERDEEN…3

(May 25, Gosgrove 82, Ferguson 90)

A SCOTT Sinclair hat-trick helped Celtic defeat Aberdeen 4-3 at Pittodrie. The Hoops showed perseverance and character in the dying minutes of the game to score two crucial goals which secured the win and Celtic’s place at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Sinclair scored his 50th Celtic goal when he opened the scoring in the early stages of the game, but Stevie May levelled from the penalty spot. Sinclair got his second with 15 minutes remaining only for the home side to draw level through another penalty. Edouard restored the lead with Celtic’s third goal and assisted for Sinclair’s third. Aberdeen then reduced the lead with a third goal in the final minute.

Celtic didn’t need long to make an impact in the game as they took the lead early on through Sinclair.

Ryan Christie picked out Callum McGregor with a defence splitting pass and McGregor cut the ball across the six-yard box for Tom Rogic. It was intercepted by Dominic Ball but the Aberdeen defender only deflected it on to Sinclair, and he side footed into the empty net.

It was a fast paced and aggressive opening period as both teams tried to take control of the game. Christie and Sinclair made surging runs forward trying to catch the Dons on the break but it yielded no clear cut opportunities in front of goal.

Aberdeen looked to the wide areas to attack Celtic and Niall McGinn caused problems with some crosses into the box from out on the right.

He got the better of Emilio Izaguirre midway through the first half when he used his pace to get away from the Celtic defender and cross into the penalty area from the byline. Izaguirre tried to block the cross but was late with his sliding tackle and conceded a penalty which Stevie May converted.

The intensity did not let up throughout the first half and as both sides pressed for another goal. Celtic had the better of the chances to score a second but Joe Lewis kept the score level with a good reaction save.

Sinclair slipped a perfectly weighted pass through to Christie inside the box but Lewis stopped the first time effort with his foot.

Christie was lively up front and looked determined to make an impact but Derek McInnes’ side defence was well organised and managed to prevent clear openings in front of goal. The Celtic midfielder came close a second time when he cut inside 20-yards from goal and took aim for the bottom far corner but the shot flashed just wide of the post.

McGinn’s pace out on the wing had been the main avenue of attack for Aberdeen in the first half and Brendan Rodgers addressed the issue at the break by bringing on Jonny Hayes for Izaguirre.

Celtic dominated possession following the restart but Aberdeen sat deep and pressed Celtic aggressively whenever they got within 40-yards of goal.

James Forrest found a way around that problem with some neat footwork and a bust of pace and it almost proved crucial. The Hoops winger skipped past two defenders out on the right and darted towards goal but his shot from inside the area was blocked.

As the second half progressed Aberdeen showed more of an attacking intent in trying to catch Celtic on the counter attack. This opened the game up and Brendan Rodgers brought on Odsonne Edouard in an effect to capitalise on any opportunities in attack.

The Frenchman proved to be the missing part of the puzzle in unlocking the Dons defence and was pivotal in the lead up to the second goal.

He cut open the opposition defence with an inch perfect pass in-behind Andrew Considine for Forrest. The Hoops winger drilled a pass across the face of goal and Sinclair got in front of two defenders to tap the ball into the back of the net.

The home side were handed another lifeline with less than 10 minutes remaining when Mikael Lustig toppled over Graeme Shinnie inside the box and Sam Gosgrove scored form the penalty spot.

With the final whistle approaching it looked as if Celtic would only take a point from the game but it proved to be an action packed end to the match with three more goals.

Edouard restored Celtic’s lead when Forrest played the ball through to him on the edge of the box. Considine and Ball were tight on the French striker but the ball broke to Edouard who spun and coolly floated it over the keeper and into the top corner.

Sinclair secured his hat-trick two-minutes later when Edouard cut a pass back for from the byline for him to rifle high into the centre of the goal.

Aberdeen reduced Celtic’s lead in the final minute through a corner. Lewis Ferguson finished from close range with a left footed shot which was assisted by Connor McLennan from a cross.

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Benkovic, Izaguirre (Hayes 45); Brown, McGregor (Edouard 70), Rogic, Forrest (Ajer 87), Sinclair; Christie

Subs: Bain, Ralston, Ntcham, Johnston

ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, McKenna, McGinn, Cosgrove, May (Wilson 75), Ferguson, Ball, McLennan

Subs: Cerney, Forrester, Gleeson, Wright, Campbell, Anderson

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Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow

Sunday, 22 December, 2018

CELTIC…3

(Johnston 44, 50, Benkovic 70)

DUNDEE…0

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the SPFL table to three points and with a game in-hand after a comfortable 3-0 win against Dundee at Paradise. Mikey Johnston scored an impressive brace, while Croatian centre-back Filip Benkovic netted his second goal for the club – and the Hoops’ third on the day.

The Scottish champions pressed the visitors from the outset, with the first half-chance coming from a defence-splitting pass by Tom Rogic, who played in 19-year-old Johnston. The striker chased the through-ball, but the wet playing surface saw the danger cleared by Dundee keeper Jack Hamilton.

A few minutes later, Rogic threaded another lovely ball to Anthony Ralston on the inside-right flank, but the defender’s low cross was parried away by Hamilton. Celtic’s first clear-cut chance of the first-half came on seven minutes, when a punishing shot by Johnston was spilled into the path of Scott Sinclair. The midfielder sent a curling effort towards goal, but Dundee defender Nathan Ralph did well to head the net-bound off the line.

Celtic almost broke the deadlock 10 minutes later when a blistering run from Sinclair was capped off by a ball for Johnston, whose shot came back off the crossbar.

A minute later, Rogic linked up with James Forrest on the right, before the latter played a weighted chip into the box for Olivier Ntcham. The Frenchman’s shot was deflected out for a cornerAnd that set-piece from Emilio Izaguirre found Rogic 12 yards out, who sent a cultured chip just over the bar.

On 21 minutes, Sinclair crossed for Forrest, but the winger headed over. On 33 minutes, Johnston dragged a shot just wide, and, two minutes after that, a Sinclair cut-back found Johnston, but the forward’s flicked attempt was gathered by the Dundee goalkeeper.

With the end of the first period approaching, the Scottish champions got their break when captain for the day, Callum McGregor, picked up possession in central midfield, and laced the ball through to Johnston. The striker turned his man with a deft first-touch, and fired a snap-shot across the keeper into the back of the net to give the Hoops a well-deserved 1-0 lead.

Celtic pressed for another immediately after the restart, and doubled their lead five minutes into the second-half. A neat one-two between Izaguirre and Sinclair on the left wing allowed the latter to cross for the incoming Johnston, whose rising header grazed the underside of the bar on its way into the net.

The home side then further extended their lead on 70 minutes. Ryan Christie, back in the squad for the first time after being taken off against FC Salzburg, fired a shot inside the visitors’ penalty area which forced a save. Filip Benkovic pounced on the loose ball to make it 3-0.

With seven minutes of normal time remaining, Anthony Ralston latched on to a through-ball and saw his shot across goal come off the post, and a minute into injury-time, Rogic crossed for Sinclair, whose clever back-heeled effort was cleared off the line.

A comfortable three points saw Celtic record their 14th domestic home win of the season, in their last game at Paradise of 2018.

CELTIC: Bain; Ralston, Simunovic (Ajer 58), Benkovic, Izaguirre; McGregor, Rogic, Ntcham, Forrest (Christie 62), Sinclair; Johnston (Hayes 78)

Subs not used: Gordon, Gamboa, Morgan, Brown

DUNDEE: Hamilton; Ralph, Kerr, Kamara, Woods, Inniss; Nabi (Lambert 62), McGowan, Kallman (Miller 54), Curran; Boyle

Subs not used: Parish, Alassane Mendy, Spence, Moore, Bradbury

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Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow

Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

CELTIC…3

(Ralston 29, Sinclair 32, Johnston 44)

MOTHERWELL…0

IT was a night to remember for two of Celtic’s Youth Academy stars, as Celtic swept Motherwell aside 3-0 at Paradise on Wednesday (December 19). The win sees the Scottish champions move back to the top of the SPFL table with a game in hand.

Goals from Anthony Ralston and Scott Sinclair put the Hoops two up after 32 minutes, and a wonder-strike from Mikey Johnston – on for the injured Odsonne Edouard – put the game out of sight ahead of half-time.

The win also marked Scott Brown’s 500th appearance for the Hoops, who now joins a select group of Celtic legends.

Anthony Ralston, who started the game at right-back in place of Kristoffer Ajer, had an immediate impact on the game when he burst down the right flank and fired a cross low into the box, which Motherwell cleared at the back post. Minutes later, a similar move saw James Forrest and Olivier Ntcham link up on the right-side, but Pthe latter’s cut-back was again dealt with.

The visitors played much of the opening stages with 10 men behind the ball as Celtic pressed for an opener. Ralston looked a threat with a series of whipped crosses into the Motherwell penalty area, which the home side failed to convert.

After 14 minutes, Ntcham had a powerful left-foot drive blocked en route to goal, and, two minutes later, Scott Sinclair was denied at close-range by the feet of Steelmen keeper Mark Gillespie.

The Scottish champions enjoyed a spell of pressure, before breaking the deadlock ahead of the half-hour mark. Odsonne Edouard picked the ball up in the final third, skipped past his man and played a perfectly-weighted pass in behind the Motherwell defence to Ralston.

The 20-year-old duly fired home, much to the delight of the Paradise faithful.Two minutes later, the Hoops doubled their lead. A lovely move from Sinclair, Ntcham and Forrest saw the 27-year-old burst into the box, before being hauled down by Charles Dunne. The referee awarded a penalty, and Sinclair confidently made it 2-0 from the spot.

With one minute of normal time remaining in the first period, substitute Johnston scored a wonder-strike to make it three. Laid off by Forrest on the edge of the box, the 19-year-old stepped inside, struck with the outside of his right foot, and rattled the ball into the roof of the net.

Not a bad way to score your first competitive goal for the

Celtic dominated possession after the break, and pressed their opponents deep into their own half

The first clear-cut opportunity of the second period came at 64 minutes, courtesy of Olivier Ntcham, when, after picking the ball up just inside the Motherwell half, the Frenchman drove forward into the box, and forced a good save to the left of goalkeeper Gillespie.

On for Sinclair, Lewis Morgan linked up well with Emilio Izaguirre on the left, and carved a couple of half-chances of his own from range. On the rare occasions Motherwell did move the ball up the pitch, it was done so by way of long-ball counter-attacks that were matched by the Hoops’ Croatian centre-back duo, Filip Benkovic and Jozo Simunovic.

With the damage done during the first-half, a well-deserved three points for Brendan Rodgers’ men saw them reclaim top-spot in the Scottish Premiership table with a game in hand.

CELTIC: Gordon; Ralston, Simunovic, Benkovic, Izaguirre; Forrest, McGregor, Brown, Sinclair (Morgan 66), Ntcham; Edouard (Johnston 39).

Subs not used: Bain, Gamboa, Ajer, Hayes, Mulumbu

MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Tait, McHugh, Aldred, Bowman, Rose, Bigrimana, Dunne (Main 87), Sammon, Rodriguez-Gorrin

Subs not used: Ferguson, Sinclair, Campbell, Mbulu, Johnson, Turnbull


Europa League

Group Stages, Matchday Six

Celtic Park, Glasgow

Thursday, 13 December, 2018

CELTIC…1

(Ntcham 90+5)

FC SALZBURG…2

(Dabbur 66, Gulbrandsen 77)

CELTIC reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League on a remarkable night of football. Despite losing 2-1 to FC Salzburg at Paradise, Brendan Rodgers’ side still finished second in Group B after RB Leipzig could only draw with Rosenborg. And they will now take their place in the last 32 draw, which takes place on Monday.

Munas Dabbur handed Salzburg the lead in the second half before Fredrik Gulbrandsen doubled the lead. Olivier Ntcham clawed a late goal back for Celtic from a penalty, but it was the 1-1 result in Leipzig which raised the roof at Paradise.

Salzburg, as they had done in Austria, pressed Celtic aggressively in all areas of the pitch and made it difficult for them to build an attack from the back. Craig Gordon was called into action early on to deny Zlatko Junuzovic, tipping the midfielder’s header over the crossbar. Jerome Onguene then came even closer with a header shortly afterwards, but the ball crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again after Kristoffer Ajer, on for the injured Mikael Lustig, lost possession deep inside Celtic’s half which allowed Hannes Wolf to dart through on goal. The Hoops keeper was off his line quickly though and made a fantastic save to deny the Austrian.

Towards the end of the first-half, Jozo Simunovic prevented the visitors from initiating a counter- attack by dispossessing Munas Dabbur out on the wing before releasing Forrest who whipped a low cross in towards the far post, but it was just too far in front of Sinclair.

Forrest glided past two Salzburg midfielders and slipped the ball through to Odsonne Edouard. The Hoops striker tried to cut inside to shoot but was tackled. Sinclair then tried to test the keeper right before the break with a curling effort from the corner of the box towards the back post but he was a yard wide of the target.

Scott Brown was introduced for the start fo the second-half in place of Scott Sinclair, and the Hoops captain helped match Salzburg’s aggression in centre of midfield which allowed his team-mates to pressure the opposition more. However, there was an early setback for Celtic when Ryan Christie suffered what looked like a serious leg injury and was stretchered off.

Celtic had grown in confidence from the first half and pressured the Salzburg defence. That led to a promising attack with Kieran Tierney drilling a low ball across the six-yard box but the visiting defence managed to scramble clear the danger.

And Salzburg took the lead when Stefan Lainer was given time to swing a cross into the Celtic box which Dabbur nodded beyond Gordon. The Austrian side were gifted a second goal when Gordon’s throw-out was intercepted and Fredrik Gulbrandsen rolled the ball into an empty net.

Celtic came agonisingly close to getting a goal back from a corner with seven minutes remaining. Benkovic’s glancing header found its way to Ajer who was unable to convert from inside the six-yard box.

Celtic continued to fight for a way back into the game and right up until the last minute. Olivier Ntcham almost found the top corner from a free kick and Forrest saw his half-volleyed effort blocked inside the box.

The biggest cheer of the night came when news of Rosenborg’s equaliser in Germany filtered through to the Celtic fans before Ntcham converted an injury-time penalty.

The progression into the knockout stages is the first time in 11 years that the Hoops have had European football after Christmas in back-to-back seasons. Celtic are now in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League for the second successive season and will find out their opponents in Monday’s (December 17) draw.

CELTIC: Gordon; Lustig (Ajer 20), Simunovic, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Rogic, Christie (Ntcham 57); Sinclair (Brown 45), Forrest; Edouard.

Subs: Bain, Izaguirre, Hayes, Morgan

FC SALZBURG: Walke; Lainer, Ramalho, Onguene, Ulmer; Mwepu (Leitgeb 79), Samassekou, Wolf, Junuzovic; Minamino (Gulbrandsen 74), Dabbur (Prevljak 90)

Subs: Stankovic, Daka, Pongracic, Todorovic


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Scottish Premiership

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Fir Park, Motherwell

MOTHERWELL…1

(Johnson 85)

CELTIC…1

(Christie 13)

CELTIC were left disappointed at Fir Park as a late equaliser from the home side denied the Hoops the victory they deserved after dominating the match for most of the 90 minutes. Ryan Christie continued his fine form with his second goal inside three days to fire Celtic ahead early on, but Danny Johnson equalised with minutes remaining.

It was a physical opening to the game as both sides fought to establish an early footing. However, it wasn’t long before Celtic settled into their rhythm and began dominating possession. Jonny Hayes initiated the first chance for Celtic after he cut the ball back for Leigh Griffiths inside the Motherwell box. The striker teed-up Callum McGregor, whose shot from the edge of the area was comfortably saved by Mark Gillespie.

But the Motherwell keeper could do little to deny the on-form Ryan Christie in Celtic’s next attack. The League Cup final goal hero struck again with an excellent finish to put the Hoops in the lead in the 13th minute. Kieran Tierney threaded a pass into Christie’s path, and he darted through the middle of the Motherwell defence before steering the ball past Gillespie into the far corner.

Benkovic found the back of the net from a corner midway through the first half with a lovely scissor-kick from a tight angle but referee, Kevin Clancy, disallowed the goal, harshly penalising the Croatian defender for an alleged infringement on his opponent.

Celtic continued to push for a second goal and were awarded a penalty when Andy Rose bundled into the back of Christie inside the box. Griffiths took the spot-kick but the goalkeeper saved the initial shot before punching the ball clear.

McGregor came close to doubling the lead after Olivier Ntcham burst forward and cut a pass back but McGregor’s side-footed effort was deflected away from goal.

The tempo from the first-half carried over into the second and a scramble inside the Motherwell penalty area saw Scott Sinclair, who had replaced Ntcham at the start of the second half, try to squeeze a shot off before Jonny Hayes’ effort was cleared off the line.

Despite Celtic’s dominance, Motherwell managed to stay in the game and seemed to grow in confidence as they pressed further up the pitch. It never amounted to much more than a few corners at that point, though, and the Hoops dealt with them well.

As Brendan Rodgers’ side continued their search for a second goal, Hayes showed good pace and strength to win the ball on the halfway line and quickly played through McGregor. He darted towards goal but Carl McHugh’s last-ditch tackle prevented him from getting a shot away.

Late in the game, a stray pass from Odsonne Edouard resulted in Motherwell breaking away and Gordon pulled off a good save to prevent Connor Sammon from grabbing an equaliser.

But the home side did find an equaliser late on through Danny Johnson, the midfielder’s left-footed shot from the left side of the box flashing past Craig Gordon and into the net.

CELTIC: Gordon; Gamboa, Simunovic, Benkovic, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Christie; Hayes (Rogic 80), Ntcham (Sinclair 45); Griffiths (Edouard 66)

Subs: Bain, Hendry, Izaguirre, Forrest

MOTHERWELL: Gillespie, Tait, McHugh, Aldred, Hartley (Rose 5), Campbell, Grimshaw, Sammon, Donnelly (Livingstone 13- Main 72), Johnson, Turnbull

Subs: Ferguson, Bowman, Bigirimana, Rodriguez Gorrin


League Cup final

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hampden Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…1

(Christie 45+4)

ABERDEEN…0

CELTIC defeated Aberdeen 1-0 at Hampden to win the League Cup, a victory which marked the seventh consecutive domestic honour the club has won under Brendan Rodgers.

Ryan Christie was the goal hero, latching on to a wonderful long ball from Dedryck Boyata, and though his first effort was saved by goalkeeper, Joe Lewis, the Celtic midfielder was quickest to pounce on the rebound, firing the ball into the roof of the net.

Celtic dominated the game, and created numerous chances, with Lewis producing a number of saves, including a penalty stop to deny Scott Sinclair, to keep the scoreline down. But when the final whistle sounded, there could be no denying that the Hoops deserved to retain the trophy for a third consecutive season.

Both teams started the game with an intensity fitting of the occasion, showcased by a flurry of hard tackles in the middle of the pitch. Aberdeen pressed the Scottish champions deep into their half in the opening five minutes, but the first clear-cut opportunity was carved by Celtic’s Tom Rogic.

A cultured long ball from the Hoops’ centre-back Filip Benkovic found Mikael Lustig on the right flank, before the Swede knocked it on to James Forrest. The winger’s inside pass was picked up by Rogic, who then fired a left-foot drive which beat Lewis but hit the post.

On the 26-minute mark, Rogic and Forrest combined to create a half-chance for the Hoops, with the Australian’s shot blocked, while just a minute later, Odsonne Edouard collected the ball in central midfield before finding Rogic in the inside-right channel. In turn, he played in Forrest, and the 27-year-old followed with a snap-shot that was dragged wide across Lewis’ right-hand post.

There was a prolonged break in the play on 38 minutes following a serious clash of heads between Gary Mackay-Steven and Boyata. Celtic’s Belgian defender required stiches to a head wound while Mackay-Steven needed more extensive treatment before being stretchered off.

It meant six minutes of time added on to the first-half, and it was in this period that Celtic grabbed the all-important opener. Boyata, back on the field, found Christie in the final third.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder controlled the ball superbly on his left before firing a shot a goal with his right foot that was well-saved by Lewis. However, Christie fired the rebound into the net, ensuring the Hoops went into the break with a 1-0 lead.

The League Cup holders continued their pressing play into the second half, and a flurry of counter-attacks provided a handful of half-chances for Forrest and Edouard.

On 53 minutes, Celtic were awarded a penalty when Dominic Ball was deemed to have handled in the box, but though Sinclair’s spot-kick was well-struck, Lewis reached to his right to turn the ball around the post.

Just before the hour, the ever-impressive Filip Benkovic found space 25 yards out, and his rifled shot was again stopped by a good save from Lewis.

Aberdeen’s best chance in the second-half came from Celtic substitute, Jozo Simunovic, defected a cross on to Scott Bain’s crossbar, while, minutes later, at the other end, a sublime piece of footwork from Edouard was followed by a curling shot over.

Celtic continued to look dangerous on the break, though there was to be no further scoring. The final whistle sparked great scenes of green and white celebrations on the pitch and in the stands as the Hoops celebrated another silverware success under Brendan Rodgers.

CELTIC: Bain; Lustig, Boyata (Simunovic 60) Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Christie, Rogic (Brown 64); Forrest (Ntcham 86), Sinclair; Edouard.

Subs not used: Gordon, Gamboa, Hayes, Griffiths.

ABERDEEN: Lewis; Logan, McKenna, Considine, Lowe; Shinnie, McGinn (Wilson 70), Mackay-Steven (McLennan 45), Ball, Fergusson; Cosgrove (Anderson 79)

Subs not used: Cerny, Gleeson, Wright, May.


UEFA Europa League

Group B, matchday five

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim

ROSENBORG… 0

CELTIC…1

(Sinclair 42)

CELTIC secured a vital 1-0 victory over Rosenborg in Norway tonight (Thursday) on matchday five of their Europa League group-stage campaign, courtesy of a Scott Sinclair header just before half-time.

And that win, coupled with FC Salzburg’s 1-0 victory against FB Leipzig, means that Brendan Rodgers’ side can secure European football after Christmas if they avoid defeat in their final group-stage game – a home match against FC Salzburg on December 13.

Brendan Rodgers’ side started the tie in Trondheim strongly, and it was Sinclair who had the first chance after just two minutes, curling an effort on target from inside the area, but Andre Hansen in the Rosenborg goal saved comfortably.

Tom Rogic, back in the side following his international exertions with Australia, was proving dangerous, and he had a shot that went just narrowly wide in the eighth minute, while just three minutes later, he fed the ball to Odsonne Edouard, but the Frenchman couldn’t get a shot away.

Celtic had a claim for a penalty waved away after 18 minutes when Edouard went down inside the box following a corner, while six minutes later, it took a superb Andre Hansen save to prevent Rogic from giving the Hoops a well-deserved lead.

While it had been mostly one-way traffic, Celtic still had to be vigilant at the back, and the Hoops were grateful to see De Lanlay’s cross go wide as Rosenborg attacked on the break, while Boyata had to be alert to put the end to another attack for the home side.

In between those two attacks, Brendan Rodgers’ side had a triple chance, with Rogic, James Forrest and Edouard all denied by Hansen’s heroics.

However, with three minutes of the first-half remaining, the Rosenborg goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Celtic breaking the deadlock. Fantastic work from James Forrest on the right-hand side of the area saw him float a cross to the back post where Sinclair was on hand to head home.

Rosenborg came out after half-time intent on getting back into the game, and Filip Benkovic needed to be alert to block a shot inside the first two minutes.

Djordje Denic, on as a substitute for the home side, was yellow-carded for a heavy tackle on James Forrest and just before the hour mark, the Serbian was lucky to escape a second booking after fouling Kieran Tierney.

Edouard had Celtic’s best chance of the second 45 minutes, but his goal-bound shot was blocked by Ryan Christie. With just under 15 minutes of the match remaining, there was the welcome sight of Scott Brown returning to action, the Celtic skipper replacing James Forrest, and his experience was needed in the closing stages of the game as Rosenborg stepped up the pressure.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side displayed resolute and disciplined defending to see out the game and take all three points, which now gives the Hoops a great chance of progressing to the knockout stages of the Europa League with a positive result next month against FC Salzburg at what is sure to be a packed Paradise.

ROSENBORG: Hansen, Hedenstad, Meling, Reginiussen, Jensen, Konradsen (Denic 46), Bendtner, De Lanlay, Trondsen (Vilhjalmsson 66), Hovland, Adegbenro.

Subs: Ostbo, Soderlund, Levi, Reitan, Serbecic

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig (Gamboa 66), Boyata, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Christie, Rogic; Sinclair, Forrest (Brown 76); Edouard (Griffiths 66).

Subs: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, Ntcham.

Scottish Premiership

Saturday, November 24, 2018

New Douglas Park, Hamiltony

CELTIC…3

(Christie 13, Sinclair 67, Griffiths 81)

HAMILTON…0

CELTIC extended their run of table-topping form to sweep aside Hamilton 3-0 at New Douglas Park today (Saturday). A well-worked corner saw Ryan Christie open the scoring early in the first-half, before goals from Scott Sinclair and substitute Leigh Griffiths – back in the Celtic squad following injury – secured all three points for the Hoops on the the home side’s artificial playing surface.

The Scottish champions eased into the early stages of the game with a comfortable spell of possession, and handful of half-chances in the opening 10 minutes came by way of some neat link-up between James Forrest and Mikael Lustig on the right flank. Likewise, Odsonne Edouard dropped deep to assist Olivier Ntcham and Callum McGregor in central midfield.

After 12 minutes, Celtic’s early dominance was rewarded with a goal. A short Callum McGregor corner found Edouard, who then returned a deft back-heel to the midfielder. McGregor’s cutback was met by the incoming Christie, who duly fired home with a first-time bullet into the top-left corner.

The Hoops maintained possession after going in front, as the home side struggled to move the ball forward. Craig Gordon was called into action half-way through the first period, when Celtic’s No.1 raced to challenge Hamilton’s Rakish Bingham at the edge of the penalty area.

Ahead of the half-hour mark, Edouard sent a searching ball over the top for Scott Sinclair. The winger controlled well and drove forward, but his low drive was saved to the goalkeeper’s right.

Minutes later, Dedryk Boyata orchestrated a fast break from the back by finding Ntcham in the middle of the pitch. The Frenchman moved the ball on to his fellow countryman Edouard, who, after turning his man on the edge of the box, had his shot deflected out for a corner.

Before the break, Lustig found space behind the home side’s defence, but the right-back’s shot was well defended by the Accies’ Matt Kilgallon.

Brendan Rodgers’ side started the second-half with similar intensity as they pushed to extend their lead. Tierney and Sinclair combined well on the left, but the visitors couldn’t make their final ball count.

On the 67th minute, Ntcham played in Lustig on the right before the Swede crossed deep into the box. Sinclair’s header beat a cluster of defenders, as well as Hamilton goalkeeper Gary Woods, to double the Scottish champions’ lead.

Smart build-up play from Celtic minutes later saw Tierney cross for Christie. The tireless 23-year-old did well to get in front of his man, and a strong header was gathered by Woods.

With nine minutes of normal time remaining, Sinclair was fouled on the edge of the home side’s penalty area. Substitute Leigh Griffiths stepped up, fired low and right of the wall, and found the net to round off Celtic’s three-goal victory and put the match out of sight.

Christie had a chance to add to the Hoops’ tally minutes into injury time, but his shot was deflected out for a corner. From there, the Scottish champions finished the game to claim a comfortable three points.

CELTIC: Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Benkovic, Tierney (Izaguirre 78); McGregor, Christie, Ntcham; Forrest (Morgan 84), Sinclair; Edouard (Griffiths 73)

Subs not used: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, Mulumbu

HAMILTON: Woods; Gordon, Kilgallon, McGowan, McMann; Martin, Imrie, Miller, Taiwo, Tshiembe (Keatings 78); Bingham (Brustad 73)

Subs not used: Mucha, Bloomfield, Want, Boyd, Sowah



Group B

Celtic scored 14 seconds after conceding to secure a dramatic victory over RB Leipzig to keep their Europa League dreams on track.

Leipzig’s Jean-Kevin Augustin equalised with a header on 78 minutes but straight from the restart Odsonne Edouard struck back.

Knowing defeat could eliminate them with two games left, Kieran Tierney had put the hosts ahead early on.

Celtic sit third in Group B, level with Leipzig, but trail on head-to-head.

The Scottish champions travel to Trondheim to face Rosenborg next on November 29, before finishing at home to Salzburg a fortnight later.

In a frenetic finish, Kevin Kampl struck the bar for the visitors and then blazed over when clean through on goal to ensure the Scottish side secured a vital victory.

Celtic rediscover European magic

The much talked about “disco lights” that were installed at Celtic Park in the summer – reportedly worth over £2million – had their European bow, but initially it was RB Leipzig that lit up Celtic Park.

The Germans threatened to spoil the party as they were right on top of Celtic for the first 10 minutes. But it was James Forrest who grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck for the Scottish champions.

The winger drove at Leipzig before flashing a ball across the penalty area for Tierney who more than matched the initiative shown by Forrest by lashing the ball home.

It sent an electrical pulse through the stadium as the home fans suddenly sensed this could be one of those heady nights where the Celtic momentum would sweep a dangerous opponent aside and end with the result that was required.

Alas, life for Scottish sides in European football is rarely that simple.

At times in the second half it felt like there was wave after wave of Celtic attack, but the goals would simply not flow.

And then came the cruel blow as the quality of RB Leipzig sliced Celtic open as the Germans equalised. Kevin-Augustin ghosted in at the back post, unmarked, to nod home.

The reaction from the Scottish champions was fantastic. Up the field they swept, Christie crossed for Edouard who fired home from point blank range.

Suddenly the disappointment of the equaliser was forgotten by the home faithful. It was a goal of real character in a compelling match.

Plenty of work ahead for Celtic to qualify- analysis

This result still leaves RB Leipzig with the advantage over Celtic. Both sides are on six points, but then it comes down to head-to-head and goal difference between tied teams – which means advantage RB Leipzig, 3-2 on aggregate.

After this result, Celtic’s fate is now out of their hands. With them unable to overturn the head-to-head record, they must simply try and replicate this performance which Rodgers has waited for and hope their German counterparts slip up.

It is not over yet for Celtic but they have plenty to do.

Young Scots shine on European stage

Former Scotland defender Willie Miller on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound

Ryan Christie has been handed the chance through circumstances, through injuries, and he’s come into the Celtic team and he’s been outstanding. Not just in playing in a Celtic team that’s playing at a high level, but playing against quality opposition as well.

He’s now really putting in performances that are saying to Brendan Rodgers, even if he’s not going to be starting he’s going to be a big part of his plans going forward.

Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, Christie and James Forrest, the four of them were brilliant. And when you throw Craig Gordon in the mix it’s not a bad back-bone of a Scotland team.

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound

I think if Ryan Christie keeps performing like he did tonight, it’s going to be very difficult for Brendan Rodgers to leave him out. The energy he put in, the runs tonight, that’s what Stuart Armstrong used to do.

It’s magnificent to see a Scottish player going out and performing against a good Leipzig team. Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor and James Forrest as well though, all good young Scottish players performing at that level, that’s what we want to see and they did it really well.




Scottish Premiership

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Celtic Park, Glasgow

CELTIC…5

(Edouard 19, 38, Benkovic 26, Forrest 65, Christie 89)

HEARTS…0

CELTIC put on another wonderful performance as they destroyed Hearts 5-0 at Paradise. The Hoops narrowed the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership to just a point with another dominant and entertaining spectacle.

Odsonne Edouard’s first-half brace was sandwiched between Filip Benkovic’s debut goal in the Hoops. James Forrest made it four midway through the second half before Ryan Christie concluded proceedings from the spot.

Brendan Rodgers fielded the same starting XI that defeated Dundee 5-0 at Dens Park in midweek. And Celtic picked up from where they left off in midweek as they attacked Hearts from the start with some excellent free-flowing attacking football.

James Forrest had the first chance after Edouard slipped the ball to him on the edge of the penalty area. Forrest managed to squeeze off a shot just inside the box but his attempt was saved by Zlamal.

The attacking partnership of Rogic and Forrest sparked to life early in the game two when the pair linked up well to create another great chance. With his back to goal, the Australian teed up Forrest with a lovely flick and the winger’s shot was again saved by the keeper.

Celtic’s quick passing and movement off the ball meant Hearts were unable to really gain a footing in the first-half and Craig Gordon was resigned to the role of spectator.

Hearts eventually caved under the pressure just before the 20-minute mark when Edouard floored the visitors with a moment of magic. With a drop of the shoulder, the French striker moved the ball on to his right foot and his curled shot came off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

Celtic looked determined to quickly add another and Forrest, brimming with confidence from his recent form, had a shot from 25 yards which flew narrowly wide of the post.

The tempo and pressure in attack from Celtic had Hearts constantly on the defensive and it wasn’t long before they conceded a second goal, this time from a set-piece. Filip Benkovic rose high at the near post to meet McGregor’s corner, and the Croatian calmly headed the ball beyond Zlamal.

Celtic’s confidence going forward became increasingly clear as the half progressed and Hearts found themselves under attack from all angles.

Mikael Lustig complemented Tierney’s crossing from the left with some excellent deliveries himself. The Swede’s crossing from the right added another dynamic to Celtic attack, and Edouard almost headed home from inside the six-yard box after the defender lofted a cross towards the far post.

With plenty of supply from the Celtic midfield, Edouard looked certain to get another and he did shortly before the interval when he guided home Tierney’s cross from six yards out.

In the second half, Hearts pressed Celtic more than they had in the first period but they were unable to enjoy a spell of possession and created almost nothing in front of goal.

Celtic, on the other hand, eventually began to subject their opponents to wave after wave of attack. McGregor, who had been excellent in the deep-lying midfield role, almost added his name to the scoresheet when he initiated a Celtic counter-attack by dribbling into the Hearts box, weaving past two defenders and shooting across goal but his effort was well saved.

The Hoops scored the fourth goal during that same period of momentum when Edouard created some space on the edge of the area before slipping a pass to Forrest who took a touch, turned and drilled the ball across goal and into the far corner with his right foot.

Hearts almost snatched a goal against the run of play when Steven MacLean’s side-footed effort from close-range was brilliantly saved by Gordon. Shortly afterwards Ben Garuccio hit the woodwork with a powerful shot when he had enough time to take aim from distance.

Brendan Rodgers would have been pleased to see his side maintain their pressure on Hearts as the final whistle approached and it looked inevitable that they would extend the lead before the referee could spare them.

Rogic came close to when he won possession 20 yards from goal, drove forward and tried to dink the ball over the keeper form a tight angle.

A flurry of chances inside the box minutes from the end led to Forrest being brought down in the box and Ryan Christie converted from the spot to mark his third goal in three games.

CELTIC: Gordon; Lustig (Ajer 58), Boyata, Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Christie, Rogic; Forrest, Sinclair (Morgan 80); Edouard (Johnston 72)

Not Used: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, McInroy

HEARTS: Zlamal; Smith, Dikamona, Dunne, Haring; Clare (Morrison 72), Djoum, Mitchell (Garuccio 45), MacLean, Cochrane, Mulraney (Wighton 80)

Not Used: Doyle, Bozanic, Lee, Hughes



Scottish Premiership

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dens Park, Dundee

DUNDEE…0

CELTIC…5

(Rogic 20, Sinclair 32, Forest 37, Edouard 45+2, Christie 48)

CELTIC swept aside Dundee 5-0 in a dominant performance at Dens Park. The Hoops continued their excellent form to hand Brendan Rodgers his 100th win as Celtic manager.

Five goals from five different scorers saw the Hoops take all three points in what was a comprehensive display from start to finish. Tom Rogic opened the scoring before Scott Sinclair converted from the spot to make it 2-0.

James Forrest got Celtic’s third and Odsonne Edouard made it 4-0 just before the break. Ryan Christie then netted the fifth shortly after the break.

Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the side that beat Hearts 3-0 in the League Cup semi-final on Sunday (October 25), bringing Ryan Christie into the starting line-up following his emphatic second-half performance at Murrayfield.

Likewise, Scott Sinclair retained his place in midfield, having replaced the injured Eboue Kouassi in the capital, Craig Gordon returned between the sticks, and Dedryck Boyata returned to the starting XI.

Celtic started well, passing comfortably from the back and retaining possession as the home side sat in. A neat one-two between Tom Rogic and Kieran Tierney forced a corner inside three minutes, and some smart link-up play between Forrest and Sinclair was ultimately shut down by Dundee defender Cameron Kerr.

With 10 men behind the ball, the Dark Blues dealt well with the visitors’ pressure in the opening stages, before the Hoops’ first clear-cut opportunity just before the 15-minute mark.

After picking the ball up inside Dundee’s half, Rogic played in Lustig on the right side. The Swedish defender’s cross found its way to Ryan Christie on the edge of the box, whose powerful drive just zipped over the bar.

Midway through the half, Celtic got the goal they deserved. After controlling a weighted pass from Callum McGregor, Rogic found space to curl the ball away from Hamilton into the far-right side of the goal.

Just after the half-hour mark, the Hoops doubled their lead. A wonderful long ball from Christie found Forrest on the right, who passed inside to Rogic. A lovely flick into the path of Lustig saw the right-back pulled down by Ryan Innis, and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Scott Sinclair, who sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 2-0.

And it wasn’t long before the Hoops made it three when a fantastic switch from McGregor found Tierney. The 21-year-old shifted down the left, and his cross was met by the outstretched Forrest who fired home from 12 yards.

Three minutes into added time and Forrest turned provider for Edouard, cutting the ball back for the French striker to slot home from six yards out to make it 4-0 at half-time.

Celtic started the second-half with the same focus and intensity, and Ryan Christie made it 5-0 on 48 minutes after he was set up by Edouard.

A double substitution shortly after saw Lewis Morgan replace Rogic, and Daniel Arzani – on the bench for the first time in his Celtic career – replacing Edouard. And it didn’t take long for the young Australian to make his mark on the game, bursting down the right-hand side before crossing for Tierney, but he couldn’t steer his effort on target. Despite looking lively from the off, Arzani then suffered an injury which marked an unfortunate end to the young midfielder’s energetic start.

Having used all three substitutions, the Hoops were forced to play out the remainder of the match with 10 men but still came close to adding more goals through Forrest.

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata (Ajer 69), Benkovic, Tierney; McGregor, Rogic (Morgan 55), Christie, Sinclair, Forrest; Edouard (Arzani 55)

Not Used: Bain, Hendry, Hayes, Johnston

DUNDEE: Hamilton; Kerr, Innis, O’Dea, Kusunga; Curran, Kamara, Spence, Kallman, Deacon (Lambert 68); Miller

Not Used: Parish, Moussa, Ngwatala, Mendy, Nabi, Boyle


League Cup Semi-Final

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Murrayfield, Edinburgh

CELTIC…3

(Sinclair 53, Forrest 65, Christie 72)

HEARTS…0

CELTIC swept aside Hearts to book their place in the League Cup final with a 3-0 win against Hearts. A dominant display in the second half saw the Scottish champions storm to what was ultimately a comfortable victory.

Scott Sinclair opened the scoring shortly after the break and James Forrest doubled the lead following a goalkeeping error. Ryan Christie rounded off the scoring with a wonderful strike midway through the second period.

Brendan Rodgers made a total of six changes to the Celtic side that were in European action in midweek.Changes in midfield saw Forrest and Tom Rogic return to the starting XI in place of Lewis Morgan and Ryan Christie.

Kristoffer Ajer marked his return from injury in place of the suspended Dedryck Boyata’s and Jozo Simunovic’s injury from midweek meant he was replaced by fellow Croatian Filip Benkovic.

The other two changes saw Mikael Lustig replace Cristian Gamboa and Scott Bain continued between the sticks in the League Cup.

It was a game of two halves as Celtic took their time to get going but once they were up to speed, Hearts could do nothing to keep them at bay.

Neither side were able to get a grip on the game in the early stages and both Scott Bain and Zdenek Zlamal had nothing to do inside the first 10 minutes. Celtic eventually settled into a rhythm and began to pressure Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers was forced into an early substitution when Edoue Kouassi appeared to be struggling with a knock and had to be replaced by Sinclair. The change meant Callum McGregor moved into the centre of midfield where he helped to control the play.

Celtic began to build pressure in the final third and forced Hearts to sit deeper than they had been at the start of the game. Edouard had a glimpse at goal when Forrest initiated a counter-attack in the middle of the park. 

The winger played a pass out to Edouard who cut inside and tried to shoot across goal but his effort was blocked.

Hearts’ best effort in the first half was an ambitious effort from Olly Lee whose half-volley from 18 yards was comfortably saved by Bain.

Celtic moved up a gear as the half progressed and had Hearts up against the wall but they continued to let themselves down with the final ball. Sinclair forced a great save from the Hearts keeper just before the break when he cut inside and shot across goal, only to be denied by Zlamal who pushed the ball clear.

Christie replaced Olivier Ntcham for the start of the second half, a change which proved crucial in giving Celtic the breakthrough they had been building towards before the break.

It was Celtic who started the game on the front foot and they were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty. 

Sinclair slipped the ball inside the penalty area for Christie who was brought down by Oliver Bozanic. Sinclair then stepped up and tucked the ball low into the corner to hand Celtic the lead.

Trailing by a goal, Craig Leven’s side were then forced to come out and the game opened up more which, ultimately, played in Celtic’s favour.

The Scottish champions were flying following the goal and they were relentless as they upped the tempo in the pursuit of a second goal. The main avenue of attack was down the left flank where Kieran Tierney and Sinclair troubled Hearts with good deliveries into the box. 

Edouard got on the end of a whipped cross into the box from Tierney but he couldn’t keep his header down.

Celtic threatened through the centre of the pitch too and the Hearts’ keeper was kept on his toes as Rogic tested him with a shot form distance. 

Some poor goalkeeping from Zlamal lead to Celtic’s second goal though. He fumbled a shot from Christie from the edge of the area and Forrest was quickest to react as he tapped the ball into the net.

The gulf in class became increasingly clear as the game progressed and the Hoops dominated the Edinburgh side with quick, fluid attacking football.

The game was put beyond any doubt with the third goal which came from a wonderful shot form Christie on the edge of the penalty area. The ball fell to him and the 23-year-old fired the ball into the top corner with an expertly taken left-footed shot.

Zlamal made up for his earlier blunder with some superb goalkeeping in the remainder of the game which ensured the score-line did not accurately reflect Celtic’s dominance in the second half.

Forrest was denied a second goal by a brilliant save 10 minutes form the end and the keeper readjusted well to deny Christie’s follow-up effort which he palmed on to the post. A game drew to an end with a flurry of Celtic chances as Edouard and Sinclair came close to increasing their lead.

CELTIC: Bain, Tierney, Benkovic, Ajer (Hendry 79), Lustig; Kouassi (Sinclair 26), Ntcham (Christie 45), Rogic, McGregor, Forrest, Edouard.

Not Used: Gordon, Ralston, Hayes, Morgan.

HEARTS: Zlamal: Smith, Dunne, Haring, Bozanic (Morrison 70); Lee (Clare 75), Djoum, Mitchell, Naismith (Amankwaa 8); MacLean, Dikamona

Not Used: Doyle, Hughes, Garuccio, Cochrane


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Scottish Premiership

McDiarmid Park, Perth

Sunday, October 7, 2018

ST JOHNSTONE…0

CELTIC…6

(Forrest 15, 30, 38, 44, Edouard 22, McGregor 86)

JAMES Forrest scored four goals in 45 minutes as Celtic blew St Johnstone away with a blistering first-half performance in Perth.

Filip Benkovic made his second appearance in the Premiership as he started in defence in place of Jack Hendry. Callum McGregor played in the heart of midfield instead of the injured Scott Brown, a change that resulted in Tom Rogic’s return to the starting XI.

Forrest initiated Celtic’s first chance of the match in the 10th minute as the winger showed a good burst of pace to beat Scott Tanser before shooting powerfully at goal. Zander Clark did well to save, though.

The Bhoys began to attack from then onwards as Kieran Tierney provided a good opportunity for Leigh Griffiths three minutes later, but the Hoops number nine had his strike parried away.

The Celts played with real intent and it wasn’t long until they found the back of the net. Following a slip from Scott Tanser, Forrest gathered the ball and fed in Tom Rogic. The midfielder picked out Odsonne Edouard in the box and the Frenchman had his shot saved but Forrest made no mistake with the rebound as he buried home the Hoops’ first.

Minutes later Clark had to make two saves in quick succession to deny Celtic’s second. The frontline of Griffiths and Edouard continued to link up but the Saints keeper was put through his paces to keep the score at 1-0.

However, in the 22nd minute, Brendan’s Bhoys doubled their advantage. The ball was collected by Edouard in the box before smashing it low into the corner to get the Champions off to the best possible start.

The Hoops didn’t stop there, though, and stepped things up a gear. The lively Forrest was direct with a trademark mazy run in the opposition area but was only prevented by the foot of Jason Kerr as the St Johnstone defender deflected the shot away.

But, on the half-hour mark, Forrest wasn’t to be denied. After some delightful play in the middle with Rogic, the Academy Bhoy curled in the third in wonderful fashion. And Forrest didn’t waste anytime in completing his first-half hat-trick.

The chemistry between Forrest and Rogic was evident at McDiarmid Park as the pair combined tremendously in the 38th minute before Forrest tucked the ball away with ease to grab his third and the side’s fourth of the afternoon.

Benkovic was next to test the Saints backline five minutes later. The Croatian rose highest to Griffiths’ corner, however, the header went over.

But, the goals kept on coming, and just on the stroke of half-time the unplayable Forrest produced the magic again. The Celtic winger got on the end of a Rogic pass, before driving at goal, cutting onto his left-foot and perfectly firing the ball into the corner to cap off an incredible first-half performance.

The Hoops picked up from where they left off as Rogic sped past the Saints defence to test Clark with just under a minute played in the second-half.

And the home side were to be reduced to ten men three minutes later as Danny Swanson lunged into a reckless challenge to prevent Forrest from executing another dangerous run.

With St Johnstone down to ten men and Brendan Rodgers’ team leading by five, it was all about game management in the last half hour.

The Celts dictated the play and controlled possession but it was in the 86th minute when they added to their impressive tally.

Mikael Lustig, who sported the captain’s armband in Brown’s absence, showed his experienced head as he got on to the end of a through ball in the box, beat a man and cut the ball back to McGregor who slotted away their sixth to round off a sensational display.

CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Benkovic (Simunovic 60), Tierney; McGregor, Ntcham, Rogic (Morgan 69), Forrest, Edouard; Griffiths (Sinclair 60)

Subs: Bain, Izaguirre, Mulumbu, Christie


Scottish Premiership

Celtic Park, Glasgow

Saturday, September 29, 2018

CELTIC…1

(Sinclair 63)

ABERDEEN…0

SCOTT Sinclair sent Paradise into raptures after scoring the decisive goal to give Celtic a 1-0 win over Aberdeen. The visitors proved difficult to break down but eventually succumbed to Celtic’s pressure midway through the second half.

Sinclair ensured the Scottish champions took a well-deserved three points thanks to his instinctive back-heel in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that defeated St Johnstone in the League Cup quarter-final last Wednesday night as Celtic returned to action in the Scottish Premiership against Aberdeen.

Jack Hendry replaced Kristoffer Ajer in the heart of defence after the Norwegian picked up an injury in the game at McDiarmid Park. The only other change saw Craig Gordon return to the starting XI in place of Scott Bain.

Celtic started the game brightly and almost took the lead inside three minutes following some slick passing in the final third. Ntcham slipped a great pass through to Lustig out on the right and the Swedish defender cut the ball back across goal. However, Forrest’s first-time effort was a yard high of the target.

Garry Mackay-Steven was the main source of the Dons’ attack and almost scored against his former team late in the first half when he cut inside and dribbled through several Celtic players, only to be denied by Gordon who produced a terrific save. He had earlier set up another former Celt in Niall McGinn, who volleyed just wide from the edge of the area.

Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham crafted a good opportunity midway through the half, but Ntcham’s return pass into the box had a little too much pace on it for his French team-mate to meet it.

Celtic’s best chance of the first half came from Edouard who fired off a wonderful shot from around 25 yards out.

Joe Lewis was beaten but Edouard’s effort came back off the post. Then, a one-two between Dedryck Boyata and Lustig carved open the Dons defence, but the Belgian defender couldn’t keep his header down.

The real moment of controversy came just before half-time when Scott McKenna scythed down Odsonne Edouard inside the box. It looked like a clear penalty and a red card for the Aberdeen defender, but Bobby Madden chose neither of those options.

And Edouard was soon replaced by Scott Sinclair as a result of the injury he picked up from the reckless challenge.

Celtic continued to show more urgency than their opponents in the second half with a flurry of attacks early on.

Forrest muscled his way into the box and ran across the byline before trying to lay Callum McGregor off, but the pass was intercepted. McGregor then tested Lewis moments later with a low driven shot but the keeper did well to save.

James Wilson forced a good save from Craig Gordon when he tried to curl the ball into the bottom far corner and Stevie May continued to ask questions of the Celtic defence.

Celtic’s continued pressure eventually paid off when Sinclair gave his side the goal they had been searching for. Forrest’s cross into the box found Griffiths but he couldn’t control it.

As the ball squirmed away from him and Shay Logan, Sinclair took a touch and, from six yards out, back-heeled the ball into the net.

Griffiths came close from a free-kick but the keeper dived low to pull off an excellent save. He came even closer in the dying moments of the game when he got the better of Andrew Considine and broke free with the ball but his chipped shot over Lewis bounced the wrong side of the post.

CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Hendry, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Rogic 59), McGregor; Forrest (Morgan 77), Edouard (Sinclair 42); Griffiths

Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Mulumbu, Christie

ABERDEEN (4-4-2) Lewis; Logan, Devlin, McKenna, Considine; Mackay-Steven, Ball, Shinnie, McGinn (Anderson 83); Wilson (Cosgrove 61), May (Lowe 69)

Not Used: Cerny, Forrester, Gleeson, Campbell

Website Man of the Match: Dedryck Boyata

Scottish Premiership

The Simple Digital Arena, Paisley

Friday, September 14, 2018

ST MIRREN…0

CELTIC…0

Celtic returned to action in the Premiership with a frustrating goalless draw in Paisley. The Scottish champions played the majority of the game with 10 men, but despite being the more dominant team in the second half, they weren’t able to fashion a goal and had to be content with a point for their efforts.

Olivier Ntcham’s sending-off in the first-half aftter picking up two yellow cards handed the home side a numerical advantage but Celtic enjoyed the better chances in the second period despite being a man down.

Filip Benkovic made his Celtic debut in the heart of defence alongside Dedryck Boyata as the Scottish champions returned to action following the international break.

The home side were playing their first game under new boss Oran Kearney, and the Buddies looked understandably looked keen to impress their new manager as they aggressively pressed Celtic high up the pitch at the start.

Within minutes of the referee’s whistle they had forced a good save from Craig Gordon. A handball on the edge of the penalty area gave Jack Baird an opportunity from a free-kick, and he made good work of it with a powerful strike which Gordon comfortably pushed clear.

Celtic soon found their footing and began to dominate possession as the home side sat deep and limited the space for Celtic to attack in the final third.

The Hoops’ first effort came from James Forrest after he snatched the ball just inside St Mirren’s half. He set off on a darting run towards goal before taking aim for the bottom far corner, but he dragged his effort wide of the mark.

St Mirren’s Ryan Flynn almost put his side ahead early in the first half when he ran into a gap in the centre of the Celtic defence to meet Lee Hodson’s cross, but he couldn’t keep his header down and it flew just over Craig Gordon’s bar.

There was little free-flowing football in a scrappy first half in which both sides pressed each other and limited any pockets of space which could have created an opening. Both still managed to forge a couple of opportunities before the break however.

Lee Hodson came close with a half volley 20 yards from goal which flashed narrowly wide of the post. He then saved his own side with a goal-line clearance to deny Dedryck Boyata after the Belgian internationalist had beaten the keeper with his header.

St Mirren were gifted an advantage just before the break when Olivier Ntcham was shown a second yellow for a challenge on Stephen McGinn deep inside St Mirren’s half. With the extra man, Oran Kearney’s side looked to attack Celtic from the start of the second half but the Scottish champions cleared their lines and looked to catch their opponents on the counter-attack.

A tactical change from Brendan Rodgers saw Benkovic make way for Leigh Griffiths. Kristoffer Ajer moved back into the centre of defence, leaving James Forrest to take up his more familiar role out on the right.

The change had an immediate effect with Forrest cutting inside from the wing and slipping a well-timed ball in for Griffiths. The Hoops striker cut a good pass back into the six-yard box, but St Mirren had packed the box and managed to stifle the danger.

Celtic seemed to grow into the game as the second half progressed and, despite being a man down, were dominant with possession, showing more attacking intent than in the first period.

Dedryck Boyata’s dominance in the heart of a Celtic back three allowed the Hoops to push forward in search of a goal which looked far more likely to come in the second half. The best chance came when Griffiths ran on to Forrest’s low, driven cross into the box but he couldn’t keep it down.

Callum McGregor came agonisingly close to securing the win for Celtic shortly before the final whistle. The Celtic midfielder showed excellent footwork to dribble his way into the St Mirren box, but his attempt to pass the ball on to the bottom corner beyond Craig Samson was narrowly off target.

Substitute Ryan Christie had only five minutes to turn the game around and he came close to doing so when he directed Boyata’s cross into the box towards the bottom corner but he was unable to generate enough power on it.

Griffith found the back of the net in the dying minutes of the game but, after expertly controlling Boyata’s long ball over the top and volleying it in, he looked over to see the linesman’s flag raised and the final whistle blew moments later.

CELTIC (4-2-2-1): Gordon; Ajer, Boyata, Benkovic (Griffiths 59), Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic, McGregor, Edouard (Christie 86).

Not Used: Bain, Sinclair, Lustig, Johnston, Mulumbu.

  • SEASON 2018-19 

    125800D8-EA1B-4F51-96E8-AD0DA02CB20A

    Thursday, August 30, 2018

    UEFA Europa League Play-Off, second leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…3

    (Griffiths 27, McGregor 53, Ajer 60)

    FK SUDUVA…0

    LEIGH Griffiths scored his 100th goal for the Hoops as Celtic swept aside Lithuanian champions FK Suduva 3-0 at Paradise. Brendan Rodgers’ side found their attacking rhythm with a convincing performance to book their place in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League.

    Griffiths opened the scoring with a wonderful free-kick in the first half and Callum McGregor doubled the lead early in the second. Kristoffer Ajer then rounded off the scoring with his first goal for the club.

    Brendan Rodgers made three changes to side that defeated Hamilton Accies on Sunday, with Scott Sinclair, Mikey Johnston and Olivier Ntcham all returning to the starting XI in place of James Forrest, Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele.

    The Lithuanian champions arrived in Glasgow needing a goal in order to cancel out Celtic’s advantage from the first leg, but the visitors struggled to get the ball out their own half on the rare occasions that they did have possession.

    Scott Sinclair was first to test Ivan Kardum in the Suduva goal shortly after kick-off but the Englishman couldn’t keep his shot down and it flew a couple of yards over the crossbar. Ntcham followed suit with a similar effort from 20 yards but the Frenchman’s effort was also just off target.

    Celtic gradually started to be more efficient with the possession they enjoyed and began creating better goalscoring opportunities midway through the half. Griffiths passed up a great opportunity to put Celtic ahead when the Suduva defence failed to properly clear a cross into their box. 

    The ball fell to the Scotland striker on the penalty spot but his quick-fire shot was straight at the keeper.

    He soon made amends from a free-kick, though, after Callum McGregor was brought down around at the 20-yard mark. 

    Griffiths, as he has done on more than one occasion, stepped up and delivered with an excellent shot, lifting the ball over the wall and into the bottom corner for his 100th Celtic goal.

    Sinclair nearly extended the lead when Ntcham’s flashing cross into the box came to him at the back post. He took a touch and readied a shot from inside the six-yard box, but the Suduva keeper pounced off his line to save.

    McGregor came agonisingly close to scoring right before the break when Kieran Tierney played a wonderful ball down the left wing for him to run on to. He cut into the box and tried to curl the ball past the keeper from a tight angle but it was just wide of the left-hand post.

    Celtic came out for the second half looking to add to their lead early on, and the goal didn’t take long to come, with McGregor proving successful in doubling Celtic’s lead just over five minutes from the restart. 

    He collected the ball inside the area and calmly placed it beyond Kardum.

    With the momentum of the second goal, Celtic moved up a gear and began pilling the pressure on the Lithuanian side with lots of promising attacking play coming from either wing.

    McGregor’s excellent footwork and burst of pace troubled Suduva and he almost set Griffiths up for his second of the night when he cut the ball back for his team-mate but the Hoops striker couldn’t get a clean connection on the cross.

    Suduva’s confidence and desire seemed to deteriorate as the second half progressed and Brendan Rodgers’s side, sensing weakness, turned up the heat. They dominated possession and continued to punish the Lithuanian champions’ defensive frailties with some impressive attacking play.

    The visitors were beaten again when Kristoffer Ajer met Griffiths’ deep cross towards the back post with a looping header that crept past the keeper for his first Celtic goal.

    Ryan Christie, on for Griffiths, then set up MIkey Johnston with an excellent opportunity to score his first senior goal when he broke away with the ball near the halfway line and slipped a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of the young winger. But the resulting shot was straight at the keeper.

    Christie himself came close to adding his name to the score-sheet near the end of the game, as did Sinclair, but it was Ajer who came closest, jinking into the box and only denied bya  good save from the keeper.

    Celtic’s Europa League group opponents will be decided in tomorrow afternoon’s draw at 12noon (Celtic Park time), while the team’s focus will be firmly on this Sunday’s Glasgow derby at Paradise.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney (Izaguirre 69); Brown; Ntcham, McGregor; Johnston (Hayes 78), Griffiths (Christie 64), Sinclair.

    Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Rogic, Forrest

    FK SUDUVA (4-5-1) Kardum; Svrljuga, Gajduchik, Jankauskas, Slavickas; Gotal (Kasparavicius 73), Zivanovic, Cadenovic (Leimonas 55), Acevedo, Offenbacher (Verbickas 79); Cicilia

    Not Used: Aleksandrov-Ridley, Cinikas, Matulevicius, Vezevicius

    celticvssuduva


    UEFA Europa League

    Play-off first leg

    ARVI Football Arena, Marijampole, Luthuania

    Thursday, August 23, 2018

    FK SUDUVA… 1

    (Verbickas 13)

    CELTIC… 1

    (Ntcham 3)

    It was a frustrating night for Celtic in Lithuania as they drew 1-1 with FK Suduva in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off. Despite taking an early lead through Olivier Ntcham, the Hoops conceded an equaliser, and despite enjoying the bulk of possession for the remainder of the game, Celtic were unable to fashion another goal.

    Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side which started against Partick Thistle in the League Cup last weekend, with Mikey Johnston making his first European start for Celtic. And the 19-year-old took just three minutes into the game to justify his selection.

    Gathering the ball on the left flank, he showed great trickery to create some space before picking out Olivier Ntcham in the six-yard box, and the Frenchman made no mistake, heading the Hoops into an early lead.

    Celtic were dominating possession in the ARVI Football Arena, taking the game to their opponents, but it was Suduva who grabbed an unexpected equaliser on 13 minutes. A free-kick from the right-hand side was swung to the back post and Ovidijus Verbickas found himself in space to head beyond Craig Gordon.

    Despite the setback, the Hoops continued to push forward, and James Forrest was denied by a good save from the Suduva goalkeeper before the winger turned provider on 25 minutes, picking out Johnston inside the box. But the teenager’s header was saved by Ivan Kardum in the Suduva goal.

    Kristoffer Ajer came even closer just after the half-hour mark, showing great footwork inside a crowded penalty area, but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot to evade the keeper. And five minutes later, Kardum came to his side’s rescue again to deny Callum McGregor after he raced into the box to flick a Moussa Dembele pass towards goal.

    After the break, the game continued in the same vein, with Celtic enjoying the bulk of possession without being able to get that second goal. And the Hoops were forced to make a change on 52 minutes when Jozo Simunovic was forced off through injury, with Mikael Lustig slotting into central defence.

    Dembele hit the side-netting on 54 minutes before Celtic had Craig Gordon to thank, the Celtic goalkeeper saving well from a Ruben Cicilia shot just inside the box. Kieran Tierney fired a powerful shot just over the bar on 63 minutes before Gordon denied Suduva substitute, Julius Kasparaviciou a minute later.

    Chances were now at a premium as the game entered the final stages, with Leigh Griffiths on for Mikey Johnston, as the Hoops put two men up front and went to a back three, with Emilio Izaguirre replacing Cristian Gamboa.

    Late in the game, Ajer came close with a header from a corner, but the Hoops had to settle for a 1-1 draw, knowing that they can complete the job at Celtic Park next Thursday night and reach the group stages of the Europa League

    CELTIC: Gordon, Gamboa (Izaguirre 66), Simunovic (Lustig 52), Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, McGregor, Johnston (Griffiths 66; Dembele.

    Subs: Bain, Kouassi, Rogic, Sinclair.


    PTFC-v-Celtic-1090x630-900x520


    Scottish League Cup

    Second Round

    Firhill, Glasgow,

    Saturday, August 18, 2018

    PARTICK THISTLE…1

    (Mbuyi-Mutombc 72)

    CELTIC…3

    (Griffiths 18, Dembele 77, Rogic 79)

    CELTIC kicked off the defence of the League Cup with a thrilling 3-1 win in a Glasgow derby against Partick Thistle at Firhill.

    Leigh Griffiths scored his 99th goal for Celtic in the first half. The hosts levelled the scoring through Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo in the second period but Brendan Rodgers’ side responded quickly and scored two further goals through Moussa Dembele and Tom Rogic.

    Brendan Rodgers made a total of six changes to the side that played AEK Athens in midweek as the Scottish champions returned to domestic competition at Firhill to start the defence of the League Cup.

    Emilio Izaguirre marked his Celtic return and was joined in the starting XI by Scott Bain, Kristoffer Ajer, Cristian Gamboa, Scott Sinclair and Mikey Johnston. Kieran Tierney, Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic, James Forrest and Callum McGregor all started from the bench while Leigh Griffiths retained his position up front.

    Celtic were in control of the game from the off and forced the home side to sit deep inside their own half and soak up the pressure for long periods. There was an urgency to Celtic’s play and the Scottish champions soon started opening up the Thistle defence with some neat passing in the final third.

    Tom Rogic almost scored twice inside the opening 10 minutes. He initiated the first opportunity when he lofted a long pass up to Griffiths who did well to hold it up inside the area. Griffiths then rolled the ball into the path of the Australian whose shot was saved by an excellent save from Cameron Bell.

    Celtic continued to pile the pressure on their opponents and an early goal looked inevitable. Izzaguirre slotted seamlessly into the Hoops defence and helped play a part in Celtic’s attack with some accurate passing down the left and good link-play with Sinclair who was providing some good crosses into the box.

    Sinclair caused problems for Thistle right-back Christie Elliott down the left wing and the captain’s inability to contain the Hoops winger ultimately led to the opening goal. From a short corner Sinclair rolled away from Elliott, ran along the byline with the ball and picked out Griffiths on the penalty spot who comfortably slotted home.

    Celtic maintained the pressure on their opponents following the goal and looked like they would score a second before half-time.

    Rogic remained a real thorn in the side of Thistle throughout the half with his attacking intent and good link-up play in the final third.

    He helped instigate a great chance for Johnston when the pair played a neat one-two on the edge of the area before Rogic flicked the ball over the defence and into the path of the young winger. Bell was off his line in a flash and managed to smoother the shot to keep the score at 1-0.

    Johnston came close again before the break but, after twisting and turning inside the box, his shot from a tight angle was pushed clear by the keeper. The half ended with a wonderful effort from Ntcham. He curled a fantastic shot form 25-yards which shaved the top of the crossbar.

    Celtic’s continued to control possession following the restart but the home side were more organised in defensively following the break and enjoyed their best spell of play in the game.

    The Hoops still managed to threaten though and came close with some moments of great individual play. Johnston went on a driving run from the half-way line, skipped past Sean McGinty on the edge of the box and tried to dink the ball over the keeper but it ended up landing on the roof of the net. Sinclair was inches wide with his attempt which he tried to curl into the far corner from 18 yards.

    Dembele replace Griffiths in attack and made an immediate impact when he came on. Tam O’Ware and Elliott struggled to deal with a long ball over the top and paid the price when Dembele used his speed and strength to muscle them off the ball. He forced a fine save from Bell with a half volley from a tight angle.

    Thistle substitute Aidan Fitzpatrick also made an immediate impact when he came on. He weaved create space inside the Hoops box and set up Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo who drew the home side level with a low drive across Bain which went in off the far post.

    Celtic responded as cup holders should and re-established their lead within five minutes. Gamboa showed great pace to burst into the penalty box and cross the ball into the path of Dembele who directed the ball beyond Bell with his thigh.

    Gamboa’s contribution to the game was not finished at that point and just two minutes later he was again the creator. James Forrest threaded a wonderful ball through the Jags defence for Gamboa to run on to and Rogic side-footed his cross past the keeper to extend the lead.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Izaguirre; Brown, Ntcham (McGregor 78); Rogic, Johnston (Forrest 69), Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 64)

    Subs: Gordon, Simunovic, Lustig, Hayes

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Bell; Elliot, Penrice, O’Ware, McGinty; Storer, Gordon (Slater 37), Melbourne, Doolan (Erskine 58); Spittal

    Subs: Sneddon, Keown, Wilson, Fitzpatrick


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    UEFA Champions League

    Third Qualifying Round, 1st Leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018

    CELTIC…1

    (McGregor 16)

    AEK ATHENS…1

    (Klonaridis 43)

    CELTIC will travel to Greece next week knowing they face the toughest of tests against AEK Athens after a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park tonight. Despite dominating much of the game, the Scottish champions were unable to get the winning goal they deserved.

    Callum McGregor had fired Celtic ahead early in the first half but AEK Athens snatched an equaliser just before the break, and the visitors were fortunate to keep Celtic out in the second-half.

    Kieran Tierney and Jack Hendry returned to the Hoops starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic and Jonny Hayes. The pair were the only two changes Brendan Rodgers made to the side that won 3-1 in the Premiership opener against Livingston four days ago.

    The game started a frantic pace as both sides looked to establish a strong footing early on with lots of attacking intent. Konstantinos Galanopoulos issued an early warning when he latched on to a Celtic clearance on the edge of the box before darting for the by-line and cutting a dangerous pass across the face of goal but, thankfully, Craig Gordon intercepted.

    Celtic quickly responded with an attack of their own when Callum McGregor broke down the left flank in possession. The midfielder carried the ball into the box and tried to picked out Edouard but the Greek defence had packed the box.

    Kieran Tierney proved to be a thorn in the side of the Greek champions throughout the 90 minutes and the young full-back showed his attacking intent early on. His powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area took a deflection before veering into the path of Edouard inside the six-yard box. The French striker had no time to react, though, and couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.

    Edouard turned provider moments later with some wonderful hold-up play before laying the ball off to McGregor. The keeper could only punch the shot out for a corner, and the resulting set-piece almost resulted in a goal when Kristoffer Ajer headed the ball back across goal for James Forrest, but the winger’s half volley was blocked inside a packed box.

    The well-drilled attacking play from Celtic finally proved too much for AEK Athens who eventually conceded just after the 15-minute mark. Tierney’s pass just inside the box took a slight deflection and fell to the feet of McGregor. With his back to goal, the midfielder took a touch, turned and fired the ball across goal and into the back of the net.

    Forrest came close to doubling Celtic’s advantage in the latter stages of the half. He twisted and turned inside the box to create just enough space, but his effort flashed a yard wide of goal.

    Despite controlling the first half, Celtic conceded an equaliser shortly before break when Helder Lopes’s cross from the edge of the by-line picked out Victor Klonaridis. The AEK forward found himself in space inside the area and had the time to take a touch before firing the ball beyond Gordon.

    Ntcham almost regained the lead for Celtic shortly after the restart with a fine shot from 25-yards but it flew inches wide of the keeper’s right-hand post. Forrest was lively going forward and Galanopoulos’s attempt to prevent the winger breaking away with the ball resulted in the Greek internationalist receiving a second yellow card just 10 minutes after the restart.

    With the extra man, Celtic turned up the heat on AEK but the Greek champions made life difficult by sitting deep and packing the box. Forrest provided substitute Leigh Griffiths with an excellent ball after getting beyond his man but the Scotland striker’s header across goal went narrowly over.

    Scott Sinclair came on as a substitute midway through the second period and provided an additional attacking threat out on the left as AEK continued to defend resolutely. Forrest and Ntcham both came close in the dying embers of the game but they both watched as their efforts flew narrowly wide of the goal.

    The return leg in Athens next Tuesday night will be a tough one for the Hoops, given the fact AEK managed to secure a vital away goal, but Celtic proved tonight that they will pose an attacking threat to their Greek hosts as Brendan Rodgers’ side look to continue their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Sinclair 76), Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic (Griffiths 63), McGregor; Edouard.

    Not Used: Bain, Simunovic, Hayes, Johnston, Kouassi

    AEK ATHENS (4-4-2) Barkas; Bakakis, Lopes, Oikonomou, Lampropoulos; Galanopoulos, Simoes, Bakasetas (Saldanha 65); Livaja (Ponce 65), Klonaridis (Galo 80), Boyé.

    Not Used: Giakoumakis, Brito, Cosic, Tsintotas, Hult


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, August 4, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Rogic 7, Edouard 26, Ntcham 50)

    LIVINGSTON…1

    (Robinson 90+2)

    CELTIC made a purposeful start in their pursuit of eight-in-row, dispatching Livingston 3-1 in dominant style in front of a packed-out Paradise.

    The Bhoys burst from the blocks and Tom Rogic broke the deadlock with a thumping header, before Odsonne Edouard swiftly doubled the lead with his fourth goal of the season. Olivier Ntcham sealed the victory early in the second half from the penalty spot after Callum McGregor had been fouled in the box by Declan Gallagher.

    With the last kick of the ball, the visitors scored a consolation through Scott Robinson, but that couldn’t take the shine off a positive performance. And the Hoops will go into Wednesday’s hotly-anticipated UEFA Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens with plenty of belief.

    Jonny Hayes made his first competitive appearance in over eight months, having missed the second half of last season with a broken leg, which he sustained in a 2-0 win away to Dundee on Boxing Day. The 31-year-old’s inclusion was one of four changes to the team that earned a goal-less draw away to Rosenborg to reach the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

    Rogic and Mikael Lustig came in for their first starts of the season following their World Cup exploits for Australia and Sweden, respectively. And Jozo Simunovic was restored to the side after serving his two-game suspension in the Champions League qualifiers.

    Before beginning their pursuit for an eighth successive title, the Celtic family celebrated seven-in-a-row as club legend Danny McGrain unfurled the league flag to huge roars from a sell-out crowd.

    And the Hoops faithful were soon back on their feet as the champions opened the scoring with seven minutes on the clock. Lustig’s cross was only cleared as far as Hayes on the left, and his inviting delivery from the byline was met by Rogic, who rose highest amid a ruck of defenders to head into the net.

    That early breakthrough was no surprise as it was all Celtic in the opening stages, with the visitors encamped on the edge of their own box in an attempt to stem the tide.

    But the Bhoys’ quick passing, movement and width saw them continue to find a way through, and Forrest had a shot blocked after goalkeeper Liam Kelly failed to deal with Hayes’ delivery. Kelly was called into action again when he had to race from his goal to prevent McGregor from fastening on to Ntcham’s through ball.

    Livingston eventually emerged from their defensive shell in the 21st minute to register their first effort on goal, Scott Pittman blasting harmlessly over from distance. Normal service quickly resumed, however, as Kelly managed to readjust to keep out Ntcham’s deflected drive on his line after Rogic had teed-up the French Under-21 internationalist.

    Moments later, Celtic doubled their advantage. Leading the charge on a lightning counter-attack, Rogic thrust across the halfway line and played in Ntcham. The midfielder sent the ball across for Edouard, who had simple task of finding the empty net, with Kelly stranded.

    As the one-sided pattern of the match continued, it was simply a matter of whether the Hoops would add to their tally before the break And the influential McGregor wasn’t far away, finding the side-netting on the volley, having shown terrific technique to control a ball over the top.

    With the home side reasserting their control of the contest straight from the restart, it only took them five minutes for number three to arrive. McGregor was sent tumbling in the box by Declan Gallagher and referee Nick Walsh, immediately pointed to the spot. Ntcham took responsibility from 12 yards and found the corner.

    Livingston player-manager, Kenny Miller, then came to his side’s rescue, heading Lustig’s goal-bound volley off the line after the Swede had controlled McGregor’s corner on his chest.

    With some big matches on the horizon and the three points effectively secured, Brendan Rodgers made a double-switch, sending on Leigh Griffiths and Kieran Tierney for Edouard and Hayes.

    The changes made no difference as the Bhoys maintained their dominance and, after robbing Robinson in the box, Rogic was agonisingly close to his second as his attempt from an acute angle rolled across the line.

    Back after injury, Griffiths was determined to make an impression and he was denied by Kelly after latching on to Scott Brown’s ball over the top. He also saw a corner cannon off the near post, with Simunovic unable to keep the rebound down.

    Forrest and McGregor also threatened to inflict further punishment, before Robinson gave something for the away support to cheer as he forced the ball home from close-range as the clock ticked down.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Simunovic; Forrest, Brown, Ntcham, Hayes (Tierney 60); Rogic (Johnston 73), McGregor, Edouard (Griffiths 60)

    Not Used: Bain, Hendry, Sinclair, Christie

    LIVINGSTON (3-4-2-1) Kelly; Brown (McMillan 60), Gallagher, Halkett, Saunders, Kaja; Pittman, Byrne, Robinson, K. Miller (Hamilton 77); L. Miller (Lawless 60)

    Not Used: Stewart, Lithgow, Jacobs, Cadden


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    UEFA Champions League

    Second qualifying round, first-leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Edouard 43, 75 Ntcham 46)

    ROSENBORG…1

    (Meling 16)

    ODSONNE Edouard’s deadly double and Olivier Ntcham’s sublime strike saw Celtic come from behind in Paradise to put Rosenborg to the sword and take pole position in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round with a 3-1 win.

    The Hoops had trailed to Birger Meling’s early opener but they deservedly levelled before the interval when Edouard netted after being supplied by Sinclair in the box.

    Seconds into the second half, Ntcham curled home a magnificent finish from the edge of the box, sparking an onslaught on the Rosenborg goal, with only the heroics of goalkeeper Andre Hansen thwarting the Scottish champions.

    They added a richly merited third in the 75th minute when Edouard raced onto James Forrest’s pass and finished in style. And the Celts came within inches of inflicting further punishment on the increasingly beleaguered visitors, hitting the woodwork three times.

    However, particularly after going behind early in the contest, it was a satisfying night for Brendan Rodgers and his players, giving them a strong advantage to take into next week’s return game in Trondheim.

    Cristian Gamboa made his first Hoops start since starring for Costa Rica at the World Cup. The right-back last featured for Brendan Rodgers’ side back in February against St Johnstone, but he came into the side after starring for his country in Russia, where he played in all three of their games.

    Gamboa’s inclusion was one of two changes to the team that dispatched FC Alashkert 3-0 last week in the previous round of the competition, with Scott Sinclair also restored to the side. The injured Moussa Dembele and the suspended Jozo Simunovic dropped out.

    It only took Sinclair 30 seconds to make his presence felt, the winger curling over from an acute angle after the visitors failed to properly clear a cross. Rosenborg replied rapidly, however, and Pal Andre Helland dragged a shot wide following a counter-attack.

    Back came the Bhoys and Odsonne Edouard fashioned room on the edge of the box, before bringing out the first save of the match from Hanson, albeit it was comfortable for the goalkeeper.

    As both teams continued to show attacking intent, Mike Jenson wasn’t far away from connecting with a cross for the Trondheim team, before Olivier Ntcham lashed over from distance. It was Rosenborg who struck first, though. Nicklas Bendtner slipped a pass inside for the onrushing Meling, whose first-time shot flew beyond Craig Gordon.

    The home crowd were only momentarily silenced, however, before issuing a fresh roar of encouragement, and the players responded. Kristoffer Ajer was unable to get a touch to Callum McGregor’s corner, Ntcham flashed another effort wide and McGregor’s deflected drive forced Hanson into action again.

    The Scottish champions were also denied what looked a strong penalty claim when Ntcham went down in the box under Vegar Hedenstad’s challenge as the midfielder attempted to spin away from the defender. Much to the ire of the Celtic dugout and home crowd, referee Bert Vertenten, was unmoved.

    As the half wore on, the pressure increased on the Rosenborg goal, with Sinclair’s rasping effort deflected over. Eventually, two minutes before the break, Celtic got their rewards. Sinclair darted into the box and picked out Edouard, who coolly slotted home amid a ruck of players.

    And with a bit more luck, the Bhoys could have gone in at the interval ahead as Forrest’s inviting cutback evaded everyone in the middle, much to the relief of Rini Coolen’s men.

    Still, they didn’t have long to wait after the restart to complete the turnaround – 42 seconds to be exact. Ntcham received a pass at the edge of the box, cut inside two defenders and then curled a magnificent shot into the top corner, sending Celtic Park into raptures.

    It was one-way traffic now, with the Hoops looking a threat every time they ventured forward. McGregor had a shot deflected wide and then, following the resultant corner, the same player’s cross was tipped onto the bar by the back-tracking Hansen.

    Moments later, the Rosenborg shot-stopper was beaten, but he was relieved to see Edouard’s free-kick flash inches wide of the far post. After a Forrest thrust into the box had caused consternation to the Norwegian side, Gamboa was next to try his luck, his long-range effort deflecting into the side-netting.

    The barrage continued and Edouard, a growing menace for the away side, supplied Jack Hendry but the defender was denied by a last-ditch block, while Hansen blocked Sinclair’s angled shot.

    Midway through the second half, Ntcham was denied a sensational second by a superb save from Hansen, the keeper somehow getting a hand to the Frenchman’s dipping, curling shot, to send it on to the bar. Tierney was then thwarted twice in quick succession by Hansen, first from Gamboa’s low centre and then after he’d been teed-up by Sinclair.

    Finally, with 15 minutes let on the clock, Rosenborg’s resilience was broken. Forrest released Edouard, who broke the offside trap, raced in on goal, before showing incredible composure to coolly chip home over the advancing Hansen.

    Tom Rogic, making his first appearance since returning from the World Cup, then entered the fray – a signal of Celtic’s intent to add to their tally. And they came so close to achieving that objective as Ajer headed on to the bar from McGregor’s free-kick, though the cheers at the final whistle said it all – it had been an excellent night’s work from the Scottish champions.

    CELTIC 4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Rogic 76); McGregor, Forrest, Sinclair; Edouard

    Not Used: Bain, Christie, Allan, Ralston, Johnston, Kouassi

    ROSENBORG (4-3-3) Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen, Hovland, Meling; Jensen, Lundemo (Soderlund 61), Trondsen; Helland (Gersbach 73), Bendtner, Levi

    Not Used: Osbo, Viljalmsson, Reitan, Konradsen, Ceide

    Website Man of the Match: Odsonne Edouard


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    UEFA Champions League

    First qualifying round, second leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, July 18, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Dembele 7, 19, Forrest 34)

    ALASHKERT…0

    (Celtic win 6-0 on aggregate)

    CELTIC cruised past Alashkert to book their place in the second round of the UEFA Champions League qualification with an impressive 3-0 win despite being limited to 10 men for the majority of the game.

    Moussa Dembele fired Celtic ahead early in the first half and then netted a second from the penalty spot before James Forrest rounded off the first-half demolition. The 6-0 aggregate win means Celtic will now face Norwegian side Rosenborg in the second qualifying round, with the first leg taking place at Paradise next Wednesday,July 25 (KO: 7.45pm kick-off. Ticket information to follow).

    Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged starting XI to the side which put three past the Alashkert in the Armenian capital of Yerevan last week, with the French attacking pairing of Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele starting up front together again.

    Celtic started brightly and looked intent on extending their lead early on as they piled the pressure on Alashkert with high-temp attacking football. Dembele tested the keeper early on and was denied with his initial effort but he found the back of the net moments later to kick-start Celtic’s goal rush.

    After spinning away from the defence on the edge of the box with the ball, he was swarmed by five Alashkert players but he showed great strength and determination to work some space and steer the ball beyond the keeper and into the bottom corner.

    Alashkert were handed a lifeline 10 minutes into the game when Jozo Simunovic was sent off for a high-footed challenge, which rules him out of Celtic’s first leg against Rosenborg next week.

    The dismissal did little to derail Celtic’s momentum, however, as the Hoops continued to dominate possession and controlled the game with quick flowing passing which resulted in more goalscoring opportunities.

    Edouard posed a threat for Armenian side’s defence with his pace and quick footwork, and he won a penalty for Celtic when he dribbled his way into the box and was brought down. Dembele stepped up and converted from the spot to double Celtic’s advantage.

    Edouard was lively in the final third and continued to torment the Armenian side. He almost grabbed a goal after Forrest slipped a well-timed pass into his path but his chipped effort from a tight angle was saved by the goalkeeper.

    The pair then switched roles to hand Celtic a third goal. Edouard turned provider as he initiated a Celtic counter-attack from the halfway line. He passed the ball into Forrest’s path, and the Hoops winger hit a wonderfully-placed shot across goal from 18 yards which nestled in the back of the net.

    Celtic were more patient and controlled in the early part of the second half, although Kieran Tierney was denied a specatular goal early on when his powerful half-volley was tipped over the bar by the Alashkert keeper.

    Brendan Rodgers handed Ryan Christie and Scott Sinclair the attacking duties midway through the half as he brought off Edouard and Dembele, and the substitutes quickly found their footing in the game. Chrisite’s first chance stemmed from Kristoffer Ajer’s brilliant surging run from the heart of the Celtic defence. He glided past four opposition players before threading a great ball through for Chrisitie, but the keeper raced off his line to smother the danger.

    Sinclair presented a similar threat and tried to extend Celtic’s lead after he cut in from the left and fired a shot towards the far corner but it was narrowly off target.

    Chrisite came close again with another well-timed run which put him on through on goal. He was under pressure from an opposition defender but was still able to get a shot away which brought out a good save from Cancarevic.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side will now have to see off Rosenborg for the second season in a row in order to progress in their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Johnston 75), Edouard (Sinclair 64), McGregor; Dembele (Christie 65)

    Not Used: Bain , Allan, Ralston, Kouassi

    ALASHKERT (4-5-1) Cancarevic; Voskanyan, Daghbashyan, Dashyan, Sekulic (Simonyan 64); Nenadovic (Manasyan 45), Yedigaryan, Reis De Jesus (Romero Jr 84), Yedigaryan, Grigoryan; Praznovsky

    Not Used: Avagyan, Zelijkovic, Stojkovic, Antonic


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    UEFA Champions League

    First Qualifying Round, First Leg

    Republican Stadium, Yerevan, Armenia

    Tuesday, July 10, 2018

    ALASHKERT… 0

    CELTIC … 3

    (Edouard 45+2, Forrest 81, McGregor 90)

    CELTIC kicked off their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Alashkert at the Republican Stadium in the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Goals from Odsonne Edouard, James Forrest and Callum McGregor gave the Hoops the win and puts them in a commanding position to progress to the next round.

    In the searing Armenian heat, the Hoops started on the front foot, with McGregor having the first chance, though his shot was saved by the Alashkert goalkeeper. And the ever-impressive Kieran Tierney was causing the home side problems down the right flank

    Alashkert slowly began to work their way into the contest, and there were a couple of scares for the Celtic defence after 20 minutes when, first, Artak Dashyan’s effort was parried away by Craig Gordon, before a curling effort went wide of the post.

    James Forrest fired a powerful shot just narrowly off target on the half-hour as the Hoops continued to go in search of an away goal, while both sets of players welcomed the stop in action for a water break. Then, after Alashkert tested Celtic on the counter-attack in the 38th minute, McGregor at the other end came close with a low drive.

    Moussa Dembele’s chipped effort was blocked by the home keeper with a minute of the half remaining before his strike partner gave Celtic the lead in first-half added time. With the ball bobbing about in the box, Forrest’s effort was blocked but spun into the path of Odsonne Edouard, who coolly slotted the ball home with a first-time volley.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side remained in control of proceedings throughout much of the second-half, restricting Alashkert to a number of ambitious long-range efforts which didn’t trouble Craig Gordon.

    And with nine minutes of the match, Celtic doubled their lead. A corner was delivered to the far post, where Scott Sinclair managed to slide the ball back to Jack Hendry. He knocked it towards the six-yard box, and though his pass was blocked, it fell to James Forrest 10 yards out, and his precise right-footed shot landed in the back of the net.

    The Hoops continued to go in search of more goals, and they got their reward in the last minute of the game. Forrest was the provider this time with some excellent play on the edge of the box, and when he slipped the ball to Callum McGregor, the midfielder fired home a low shot to give the Hoops a 3-0 first leg win.

    CELTIC: Gordon; Hendry, Ajer, Simunovic; Brown; Forrest, McGregor, Ntcham (Kouassi 67), Tierney; Dembele (Sinclair 67), Edouard (Morgan 77).

    Subs: Bain, Christie, Allan, Ralston.

    ALASHKERT: Cancarevic, Yedigaryan, Voskanyan, Praznovsky, Daghbashyan, Grigoryan, Dashya, Yedigaryan, Sekulic, Nenadovic.

    Subs: Avagyan, Zeljkovic, Stojkovic, Antonic, Manasyan, Simonyan, Romero


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    Scottish Cup final Saturday, May 19, 2018 Hampden Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…2

    (McGregor 11, Ntcham 25)

    MOTHERWELL…0

    CELTIC sparkled in the Hampden sunshine to sweep aside Motherwell and lift the Scottish Cup for the 38th time, sealing a first ever ‘double treble’ in Scottish football.

    One year on from becoming Treble Invincibles in dramatic style at the National Stadium, Brendan Rodgers’ side made history again, with fantastic first-half goals from Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham putting the Steelmen to the sword and sealing back-to- back clean sweeps – a truly remarakble achievement.

    It was another masterful performance on the big occasion from the seven-in-a-row champions, who dominated from the first whistle and whose grip on the silverware never looked in doubt.And there were memorable scenes after the final whistle as captain Scott Brown, one day before his testimonial match, held the trophy aloft to huge roars, before the manager and players took the salute of the jubilant Hoops faithful.

    Craig Gordon returned between the sticks for the Bhoys, with Scott Bain dropping to the bench, in the only change to the team that contested the last league match of the season against Aberdeen.Celtic started brightly in the glorious sun- kissed conditions, and McGregor broke clear inside the opening 30 seconds but he couldn’t pick out any of his team-mates in the middle.And following a lightning counter-attack, instigated by James Forrest, Cedric Kipre had to make a timely interception to prevent Moussa Dembele from reaching Scott Brown’s low centre.Tom Rogic, fresh from signing a new five-year contract with the club, was next to try his luck, drilling wide from distance after receiving McGregor’s pass.

    But the champions didn’t have long to wait for the breakthrough – and it arrived in spectacular style. Mikael Lustig’s cross was only cleared by the Motherwell backline as far as McGregor. He controlled the ball and evaded his marker in the same move, before lashing the ball into the corner from 20 yards with his weaker right foot, sending the vast majority of Hampden into ecstasy.With Dembele leading the line brilliantly, and Brown and Ntcham bossing the midfield, the Hoops quickly went in search of further reward.

    Dembele couldn’t keep a half-volley down after being found by Tierney, and then the striker turned provider, showing superb strength to hold off two defenders and teeing up Rogic, whose effort was deflected wide.From McGregor’s corner, Dembele also headed over as the Steelmen struggled to stem the Celtic tide.And that was perhaps why Motherwell midfielder Liam Grimshaw restored to halting Rogic in his tracks with a blatant bodycheck, which referee Kevin Clancy deemed only to be a free-kick.

    In the 25th minute, however, their resistance was broken again. Dembele was too strong once again for the Fir Park backline, and he laid the ball off to Ntcham, who rifled a shot beyond Trevor Carson into the far corner.Stephen Robinson’s beleaguered side eventually registered their attempt on goal three minutes later, Curtis Main blazing over after being found by Ryan Bowman’s flick.Normal service soon resumed, however, with Tierney – exhibiting his usual passion, drive and determination – and Dembele thwarted by some last-ditch tackles from the Lanarkshire side, following an incisive passing move.

    Rogic also shot straight at Carson after Dembele’s effort had been blocked in the box, while several more crosses flashed dangerously across goal. Motherwell were relieved to hear the half-time whistle without receiving further punishment.The Steelmen, as they had to, showed greater attacking impetus following restart, and Craig Gordon was called into action for the first time, pushing over Main’s angled drive. He then made a comfortable catch after Allan Campbell took aim from long range.

    But the Celts always looked menacing when they ventured forward, and Forrest was unable to capitalise on a good opening, following a rampaging run from Tierney down the left.Moments later, Dembele looked to have a good penalty shout waved away after being hauled back by Charles Dunne in the box.With Motherwell committing more men forward in a desperate attempt to get back into the game, the chances kept coming for the Hoops, with Ajer, Dembele and Rogic all trying their luck.In the 70th minute, Carson made a stunning double save to push away Dembele’s header and then block the striker’s rebound In the closing stages, substitute Gael Bigirimana almost the Fir Park club a glimmer of hope when his free-kick crashed off the bar but nothing was going to deny the brilliant Bhoys on another special day in the club’s history.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer (Simunovic 76); Forrest (Sinclair 89), Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; Rogic (Armstrong 72) McGregor; Dembele

    Not Used: Bain, Kouassi, , Roberts, Griffiths

    MOTHERWELL (3-5-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Cadden, Grimshaw, McHugh (Bigirimana 55) Campbell (Frear 79), Tait; Main, Bowman

    Not Used: Griffiths, Hartley, Petravicius, Turnbull, Maguire


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    Scottish Premiership Celtic Park, Glasgow Sunday, May 13, 2018

    CELTIC…0

    ABERDEEN…1 (Considine 47)

    CELTIC were unable to crown off the league trophy celebrations with a victory as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Aberdeen, a result which secured the Dons a runners-up finish in the table.

    The seven-in-a-row champions were undone by Andrew Considine’s striker just after the interval and, despite coming close on a number of occasions, they couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

    It was the Pittodrie side’s first win away over the Hoops in 14 years, but that didn’t dampen the party atmosphere in Paradise as captain Scott Brown lifted the trophy for the seventh successive time in the May sunshine.

    And Brendan Rodgers’ side will now look to add more silverware in next week’s Scottish Cup final, when they will look to clinch an unprecedented double treble.

    Moussa Dembele returned to lead the line as Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the team that were held by Kilmarnock on Wednesday night. 

    Mikael Lustig, Kieran Tierney, Dedryck Boyata, Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic also came back into the starting XI. Jack Hendry, Jozo Simunovic, Calvin Miller, Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts dropped out.

    Roared on by a bumper crowd in Paradise, the hosts were quickly on the front foot, zipping the ball around with purpose and fashioning several promising positions.

    However, it was the Dons who registered the first effort of note in the 10th minute when Greg Stewart curled a free-kick off the bar following Mikael Lustig’s foul on Gary Mackay-Steven.

    Dembele responded for the champions, fastening onto a pass in the box and showing superb strength to hold off his marker before bringing out a save from Joe Lewis from an acute angle.

    The Pittodrie side, who still had plenty to play on the last day as they sought to seal second spot in league, then came close when Kristoffer Ajer almost turned Mackay- Steven’s cross into his own net.

    Although the Celts continued to dominate possession, as the half wore on, they struggled to plot a path through the sea of red shirts, with the visitors retreating to a deep defensive line and remaining compact when not in possession.

    Meaningful chances were at a premium for the Bhoys. Forrest did fire over from a good position, following a corner, but the offside flag had already been raised in any event. Dembele also looked to have broken clear, but Anthony O’Connor’s last ditch block prevented the striker from testing Lewis.

    Celtic’s frustration grew at the start of the second half as Derek McInnes’ men took the lead within two minutes of the restart. Moments after Stewart had curled over for the Dons, Considine reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box and drilled beyond Scott Bain.

    Brendan Rodgers reacted by making a double change, sending on Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths for Kieran Tierney and Dembele, and Griffiths nearly made an immediate impact but he couldn’t generate enough power in his shot to trouble Lewis after he’d been played in by Kristoffer Ajer.

    Searching for an equaliser, the Hoops began to crank through the gears. Rogic had a shot charged down by Mark Reynolds and Ntcham forced Lewis into a smart save, with Considine making a last-gasp clearance to prevent Callum McGregor from reaching the rebound.

    Sinclair was next to threaten as Brown sent him scampering clear in the box, but the winger couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and was eventually crowded out. Brown then took matters into his own hands, bursting into the box but his effort was deflected behind for a corner off O’Conner.

    Rogic and Stuart Armstrong, who had also entered the fray from the bench, had shots charged down, before Griffiths had a free-kick pushed away by Lewis. Armstrong was also denied by Lewis as the pressure intensified on the Aberdeen goal in the closing stages.

    And Lewis was the hero again for the away side as the clock ticked down, pushing Griffiths header away from Armstrong’s deft cross.After the final whistle sounded, Shay Logan was shown a straight red card for clashing with several Celtic players, including Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata.

    But was then time for the main event as Brendan Rodgers praised the players for their oustanding efforts over the campaign and Brown held the league trophy aloft amid jubilant scenes.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney (Sinclair 52); Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 68); Rogic, Forrest, McGregor; Dembele (Griffiths 52)

    Not Used: De Vries, Hendry, Simunovic, Roberts

    ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Lewis; Logan, O’Connor, Reynolds, Considine; Ball, Shinnie; Stewart (Campbell 65), McLean, Mackay-Steven (May 85); Cosgrove (Rooney 72)

    Not Used: Woodman, Arnason, Wright, Anderson, Campbell


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    Scottish Premiership Wednesday, May 9, 2018 Celtic Park, Glasgow

    CELTIC…0 KILMARNOCK…0

    CELTIC were held to a frustrating goalless draw tonight in Paradise by Kilmarnock. The Hoops dominated possession and controlled large periods of the game but a well-drilled opposition limited the number of opportunities in front of goal.

    Brendan Rodgers made a total of six changes to the team that beat Hearts at the weekend, with Calvin Miller making his fourth start of the season. The 20-year-old slotted into a back-three alongside Jack Hendry and Jozo Simunovic.

    Stuart Armstrong and Scott Sinclair came into the starting XI in midfield behind Patrick Roberts who was tasked with leading the line.

    Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Tom Rogic, Olivier Ntcham, Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard were the players to make way.

    Teenager Ewan Henderson, who has impressed for the Development Squad in recent weeks, made his senior debut when he came on as a second half-substitution.

    An organised Killie defence made life difficult for the seven-in-a-row champions and Celtic were unable to fashion any clear-cut chances in the early stages.

    They dominated the bulk of possession and pinned the visitors deep into their own half but Steve Clarke’s side were disciplined and closed down any space which Celtic might have utilised. Kilmarnock also showed a willingness to attack on the break whenever the thwarted a Celtic attack.

    Openings eventually began to show in the well-drilled Killie defence as Celtic patiently looked find a way through a stubborn defence.

    Armstrong threaded a good pass through the midfield and defence for Roberts to run onto, but the 21-year-old was unable to test MacDonald in the Kilmarnock goal after scuffing his shot.

    Armstrong was the spark which ignited the majority of Celtic’s attack throughout the first half. A free-kick from 30 yards out on the left saw the Scotland international float the ball into the box, which Hendry headed towards the back post and Simunovic nearly tucked in.

    A similar situation unfolded later in the half. This time the ball found the back of the net when Simunovic headed towarsd goal, however, the linesman raised his flag when Kristoffer Ajer got the final touch before the ball went over the line.

    Much of Celtic’s attacking play came from the left flank. Forrest saw his header land on the roof of the net after getting on the end of McGregor’s cross, while Armstrong split open the opposition defence with another neat pass into the box for Sinclair, who chipped the keeper from a tight angle only to see his effort roll across the face of goal.

    Celtic continued heap the pressure on in the second half and came close to taking the lead early on. Sinclair dribbled his way to the byline and cut a pass back for Armstrong, but MacDonald was quick off his line and managed to smoother the side-footed shot.

    At the other end, the visitors’ willingness to attack nearly paid off when Greg Kiltie squared for Aaron Tishibola but he missed the target.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Roberts’ quick feet helped create an opportunity inside a packed Kilmarnock box and, with his back to goal, he worked space for himself before slipping the ball to McGregor but he failed to get a clean shot off and the keeper saved.

    Hendry came within inches of grabbing his first Celtic goal when he rose high above the defence to get on the end of McGregor’s corner but his header flashed across the face of goal.

    Henderson came on in the second half and looked lively in attack but he too was unable to forge an opening in the Ayrshire side’s defence. The 19-year-old did deliver a good ball into the box late in the game which Hendry headed back across goal for Rogic but the Australian’s half-volley was blocked.

    Celtic will now turn their attentions to Sunday to the final game of the league season against Aberdeen on Sunday when they will be presented with the Premiership trophy at the end of the 90 minutes.

    And Brendan Rodgers will be looking for a strong performance from his side against the Dons ahead of next week’s Scottish Cup final.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3): Bain; Hendry, Simunovic, Ajer, Miller (Tierney 66); Brown, Armstrong (Rogic 66), McGregor; Forrest, Roberts (E Henderson 81), Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Ntcham, Johnston, Kouassi

    KILMARNOCK (4-3-3) MacDonald; O’Donnell, S.Boyd, Findlay, Taylor; Mulumbu (Wilson 90), Dicker, Tshibola; Brophy (K.Boyd 77), Erwin, Kiltie (Burke 86)

    Not Used: Fasan, Greer , Simpson, Cameron


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, April 29, 2018

    CELTIC…5

    (Edouard 15, 41, Forrest 45, Rogic 47, McGregor 53)

    RANGERS…0

    CELTIC sealed a seventh successive title in scintillating style, blowing Rangers away 5-0 on an unforgettable afternoon in Paradise.

    Odsonne Edouard’s deadly double and a stunning solo effort from James Forrest deservedly put the Hoops in complete command at the break after they had left their city rivals reeling with an exhilarating exhibition of attacking, aggressive football.

    Goals from Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor inflicted further punishment on the beleaguered visitors early in the second half, and only the heroics of goalkeeper Jak Alwnick spared the Ibrox side from further humiliation as the seven-in-a-row champions continued to tear them apart.

    It was the first time Celtic had won seven consecutive championships since Jock Stein’s golden era, and Brendan Rodgers and his players took the salute of the Hoops faithful after the final whistle as Paradise celebrated this magnificent achievement.

    And having wrapped up the league crown with three games to spare, the Hoops will now look to clinch an unprecedented double treble on May 19 in the Scottish Cup final against Motherwell.

    The inclusion of Edouard was one of two changes from last weekend’s game against Hibernian. He replaced Leigh Griffiths, who dropped to the bench, while Mikael Lustig returned to the back four in place of Jack Hendry.

    Roared on by a thunderous home support, Celtic started immediately on the front foot, creating a host of early chances. After the visitors could only partially clear McGregor’s corner, Oliver Ntcham had a shot saved by Alnwick, before Forrest had a shot deflected wide.

    Forrest had been prominent in the early exchanges, causing Andy Halliday consternation with his pace and purposeful bursts and, and from the winger’s cross, McGregor had an effort blocked, before Ntcham called Alnwick into action again.

    Lustig was next to try his luck, the Swedish defender off target with a near-post flick from McGregor’s corner.

    It was one-way traffic, with the Ibrox side struggling to cope with Celtic’s tempo, intensity and crisp passing. Edouard threatened after thrusting through the middle, but the Frenchman elected to shoot rather than pick out Rogic or Forrest, and his attempt deflected wide.

    Following the resultant corner, Rangers’ resistance crumbled. Tierney did brilliantly to skip past Daniel Candeias and when he drilled the ball across goal, Edouard was on hand to stab the ball home, sending the vast majority of Paradise into raptures.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to pile on the pressure in search of further reward – McGregor curled over, and only a series of last-ditch challenges from the Ibrox side prevented the rampant Hoops from breaking through again.

    The shell-shocked visitors finally managed to test Craig Gordon in the 27th minute. Jamie Murphy played in Jason Holt, who squeezed a shot on target, but Celtic’s No.1 was down quickly to make the save, with Tierney completing the clearance.

    Normal service soon resumed, however, as Forrest thrusted into the box, despite being hauled back by Halliday. He found Lustig, whose miss-hit effort almost fell for Edouard at the far post.

    At the other end, Tierney intercepted a dangerous cross from Candeias as Graeme Murty’s side tried to build some momentum. It was all in vain. For, four minutes behind the interval, Celtic doubled their lead.

    Forrest sent Edouard scampering clear and, with Russell Martin backing off, the striker coolly picked his spot in the far corner.

    And there was still time for the Bhoys to add to their tally before the break after a piece of individual brilliance from Forrest. Dedryck Boyata beat Jason Cummings to the ball and found the winger, who danced past three Rangers defenders before beating Alwick with a fantastic finish inside the far post.

    There was no respite for the Ibrox side in the second period. Within two minutes of the restart, the champions had added number four.

    Although Alnwick saved from McGregor in the box, the loose ball eventually fell for Rogic and he swept home from the edge of the box.

    Incredibly, in the 53rd minute, it was 5-0. Edouard did the damage on the left, driving to the byline and McGregor buried his cutback

    On a rare foray forward for the visitors, Josh Windass struck the outside of the post from distance but the Hoops remained in complete control, threatening to score every time entered the final third.

    Alnwick had to make three superb saves to deny Ntcham, Forrest, Rogic as the Bhoys continued to run the visitors ragged.

    Substitutes Jack Hendry and Leigh Griffiths spurned late chances to make the scoreline even more emphatic, the latter shooting over after running through on goal from Kristoffer Ajer’s header, but the celebrations were already well underway in the stands, and they got into full swing once the final whistle sounded.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Hendry 72) Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest, Rogic (Sinclair 67) McGregor; Edouard (Griffiths 75)

    Not Used: Bain, Simunovic, Roberts, Kouassi

    RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Alnwick; Tavernier, Martin, McCrorie, Halliday; Holt, Dorrans (Docherty 71); Candeias, Windass (Morelos 57), Murphy; Cummings

    Not Used: Kelly, Hodson, Rossiter, Goss, O’Halloran


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    Scottish Premiership

    Easter Road, Edinburgh

    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    HIBERNIAN…2

    (MacLaren 25, Slivka 80)

    CELTIC…1

    (Edouard 87)

    CELTIC failed in their first chance to clinch the title, going down 2-1 to Hibernian at Easter Road. The Hoops needed a win to seal a seventh successive championship but were undone by goals in either half from Jamie MacLaren and substitute Vykintas Slivka.

    Odsonne Edouard’s composed finish in the closing stages proved no more than consolation as Neil Lennon’s men held out to secure the spoils and boost their bid to finish in the runners-up spot.

    Should results elsewhere go in their favour this weekend, Brendan Rodgers’ side could still be crowned champions, but if not, their next opportunity to claim seven-in-a-row will be in next weekend’s Glasgow derby in Paradise.

    Leigh Griffiths made his first Celtic start in almost three months, having made four substitute appearances since picking up a calf injury in a 1-0 win over the Easter Road side at the end of January.

    The striker’s inclusion was one of two changes to the team that routed Rangers last weekend in the Scottish Cup semi-final, with Jack Hendry also coming into the starting XI. Mikael Lustig and Moussa Dembele were the two players to drop out.

    Griffiths’ eagerness to make up for lost time was evident as he tried his luck inside 60 seconds, dragging a shot wide from distance after an incisive Celtic breakaway.

    The home side responded swiftly. Dylan McGeouch played in Florian Kamberi but Craig Gordon was out quickly to block his angled drive. From the resultant corner, Kamberi put an acrobatic attempt over.

    With play raging from end to end in the opening exchanges, the next chance fell for the Hoops. Kristoffer Ajer stormed forward from defence, dancing past several challenges before picking out Griffiths. He teed-up the onrushing Tom Rogic with a first-time pass but goalkeeper Ofir Marciano managed to make the save and then react quickly to push away Griffiths’ rebound.

    After the open, pulsating start to the contest, the Bhoys looked to be exerting greater control. Around the quarter-hour mark, some lovely interplay between Rogic and Brown fashioned the next opening, the Australian eventually curling wide with the inside of his foot.

    In the 25th minute, however, the home side broke the deadlock. As Hendry attempted to bring down Gordon’s lofted pass, Lewis Stevenson nipped in and flashed a low cross into the box which MacLaren converted at the far post.

    Buoyed by the goal, Hibs threatened again when, following Swanson’s corner, Gordon had to claw Dedryck Boyata’s attempted clearance off the line.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side, while engineering plenty of promising positions, were unable to deliver a telling final pass or shot trouble Marciano as they searched for a leveller.

    And when they did pierce the home defence four minutes before the interval, Olivier Ntcham couldn’t keep his effort down after Tierney had picked out his run.

    A combination of Paul Hanlon and Efe Ambrose then denied Griffiths, charging down his shot at the near post, after good work from Forrest on the right.

    But the last word of a breathless first period came from the hosts, Hanlon glancing a header wide of the far post from a free-kick.

    Scott Sinclair was introduced in place for Ntcham at the start of the second half to add some further firepower to the Hoops’ attack.

    It was the Edinburgh side, however, that threatened first as Swanson burst through the middle and brought out a low save from Gordon.

    As the Celts adjusted to the tactical switch they began to grow in ascendency. Ten minutes into the second half, Griffiths’ drilled pass dropped invitingly for Rogic in the box, but Marciano again came to his side’s rescue, blocking the midfielder’s effort.

    With the capital side unable to clear, Griffiths’ rebound was charged down by the a host of Hibs defenders, before McGregor was to direct a volley on target from Forrest’s delivery.

    Although the Hoops were now enjoying most of the ball, Neil Lennon’s men were still a threat on the counter and Kamberi dragged a shot wide after a weaving run.

    After McGregor fired over from Rogic’s pass, the champions’ frustrations were compounded as the home side doubled their tally with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Slivka heading home Kamberi’s cross from the right.

    Edouard provided a glimmer of hope, bursting through the middle and coolly finding the far corner, setting up a grandstand finish. But, despite a late flurry of pressure, Celtic couldn’t grab the equaliser.

    CELTIC (3-5-1-1) Gordon; Hendry, Ajer, Boyata; Forrest (Roberts 69), Ntcham (Sinclair 46), Brown, McGregor, Tierney; Rogic, Griffiths (Edouard 65)

    Not Used: Bain, Simunovic, Musonda, Kouassi

    HIBERNIAN (4-4-2) Marciano; Whittaker, Ambrose, Hanlon,  Stevenson; Boyle, McGeouch, McGinn, Swanson (Barker 64); Kamberi, MacLaren (Slivka 73)

    Not Used: Bell, Murray, Porteous, Stirling, Allan




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    Scottish Premiership

    New Douglas Park, Hamilton

    Sunday, April 8, 2018

    HAMILTON ACCIES…1

    (Bingham 18)

    CELTIC…2

    (McGregor 4, Griffiths 46)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ second-half header sealed a dominant 2-1 victory for Celtic away to Hamilton Accies, putting them within one win of a seventh successive title.

    The champions burst from the blocks and Callum McGregor handed them an early breakthrough with an accurate finish after combining well with Patrick Roberts.

    Rakish Bingham restored parity for the home side, who then had Darren Lyon dismissed four minutes before the interval after the defender was booked twice in quick succession.

    And Brendan Rodgers’ capitalised on their man advantage moments after the restart as Griffiths, introduced at the start of the second half, applied the finish to Scott Sinclair’s inviting centre.

    The Bhoys comfortably saw out the rest of the contest to stretch their lead at the top of the table to 13 points with five games remaining, with attention now turning to next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.

    Roberts made his first Celtic start since the end of November as the manager made five changes to the side that faced Dundee on Wednesday night.

    Ineligible to face his parent club earlier in the week, Scott Bain also returned between the sticks. Kristoffer Ajer, Olivier Ntcham and Kieran Tierney were the other players restored to the team.

    Straight from the kick-off, Celtic should have opened the scoring. Shaun Want’s short back-pass allowed Moussa Dembele to bear down on goal but the striker was denied by Ryan Fulton.

    However, it only took until the fourth minute for the champions to break the deadlock. McGregor collected a return from Patrick Roberts in the box and drilled home a low shot at the near post.

    Bossing possession, the Celts were in complete control as they probed patiently for number two, with Ntcham testing Fulton with a swerving shot from the edge of the area.

    From their first effort on goal, however, the hosts levelled the contest. In the 18th minute, Bingham fastened onto a ball over the top and slotted a shot beyond Bain.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were soon back on the front foot as they attempted to restore their advantage. After good work from Tierney down the left, Sinclair was given a sight of goal in the box but he was denied by a last-ditch block. Dembele also curled a free-kick narrowly over after a foul on Roberts.

    McGregor was next to threaten, driving through the middle on a purposeful run and forcing Fulton into a smart save with a powerful shot.

    As half-time approached, the home side were reduced to ten men. Just moments after getting booked for a late tackle on Tierney, Lyon was given a second yellow for pushing Tierney to the ground after a tussle between the pair.

    The Hoops almost capitalised on their man advantage before the break but Dembele was unable to steer a loose ball from a corner on target at the far post.

    At the start of the second half, Griffiths was introduced in place of Jack Hendry and it only took the hit-man seconds to make his mark. Sinclair skipped past his man on the left and Griffiths was on hand to head home his pinpoint cross in the middle – his 98th goal for the club.

    Tierney was next to try his luck for the Celts but he couldn’t keep his shot down after thrusting into space, before Ntcham saw his attempt deflected narrowly wide. Roberts wasn’t far away either with a 20-yard effort.

    Celtic were utterly dominant in possession but they were given a scare at the other end when Georgios Sarris glanced a corner wide.

    That stung the Bhoys back into action – Sinclair headed inches wide, with aid of a deflection, and McGregor fired straight at Fulton.

    Some lovely link-up play between Roberts and McGregor presented Ntcham with an opening but he blasted wide.

    And substitute Charly Musonda spurned a late chance to finish the match with a flourish for the visitors, who cruised through the closing stages to move within touching distance of the championship.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Bain; Hendry (Griffiths 46), Ajer, Boyata; Roberts (Musonda 86), Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; McGregor, Dembele (Edouard 68), Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Armstrong, Lustig, Forrest

    HAMILTON ACCIES Fulton; Lyon, Want, Tomas, Van Der Weg, McMann; MacKinnon (Ferguson 63), Jenkins, Redmond (Rojano 84); Crawford (Sarris 46); Bingham

    Not Used: Marshall, Miller, Hughes, Ogkmpoe


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, April 4, 2018

    CELTIC…0

    DUNDEE…0

    CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw by Dundee on a frustrating evening in Paradise, though they still increased their lead at the league summit over second-placed Aberdeen to 10 points.The Hoops controlled possession and had a number of attempts on goal, but they couldn’t fashion the winner their dominance deserved and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

    On an otherwise disappointing night, there was a milestone moment to savour for Craig Gordon, who made his 200th appearance for the club after completing his comeback from a knee injury, which had sidelined him since the end of January.

    By shutting out the Dens Park side, he also reached a century of clean sheets in the Hoops. The Scotland internationalist had replaced Scott Bain between the sticks, with the on-loan 26-year-old ineligible to play against his parent club.

    There was one other change to the team that cruised past Ross County at the weekend as Jack Hendry started against his former employers in central defence at the expense of Kristoffer Ajer.

    It was all Celtic in the opening exchanges, the hosts zipping the ball around the pitch with pace and purpose. In the third minute, they carved out their first chance. Moussa Dembele met James Forrest’s return pass with a first-time shot which drew a smart save from Elliot Parish.

    Such was the home side’s superiority, Gordon didn’t touch the ball until the 11th minute when he tipped over Simon Murray’s shot from the edge of the box, a reminder of the goalkeeper’s shot-stopping skills.Normal service soon resumed, however, as Tom Rogic had a shot charged down and Armstrong fired over from distance after prolonged periods of possession.

    With the visitors defending in depth and in great numbers, Celtic’s next opportunity came on the counter after some fantastic work from Forrest.Showing great turn of foot and skill, the winger danced past one defender, drove into the box and saw his powerful effort pushed around the post by Parish.

    From the resultant corner, Scott Sinclair headed over after Dedryck Boyata had flicked the ball on. Brendan Rodgers’ side were having to be patient in their quest to unlock the defensive Dens Park side. A slick passing move did give Forrest a sight of goal five minutes before the interval but he was unable to keep his shot down.

    And they could have found themselves trailing at half-time. From an aimless ball over the top, Roarie Deacon managed to get in behind the Hoops defence. Boyata’s last-ditch tackle denied Dundee forward but sent the ball on to the inside of the post and then along the line, where it was grabbed by a grateful Gordon.

    Stung into action by that close escape, the Celts upped the tempo as they remerged for the second period, and Sinclair almost found a way through after a marauding run into the box from the left, only to find himself crowded out when he attempted to pull the trigger.

    Undeterred, the Bhoys continued to probe for the breakthrough, with Forrest, Armstrong and Dembele all having efforts. Rogic then picked out Sinclair in the box but the winger couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and generate sufficient power to trouble Parish.

    As the midway point of the half approached, Brendan Rodgers introduced all three substitutes – Olivier Ntcham, Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard – in attempt to provide fresh impetus and creative spark.

    Edouard was the first of the subs to try his luck, firing straight at Parish from an acute angle, with McGregor well placed. As the champions piled on the pressure, Edouard had a shot deflected wide following a corner and Ntcham brought out a comfortable save from Parish from the edge of the area.

    In the closing stages, Hendry almost grabbed the winner against his former club, heading inches wide from Armstrong’s free-kick, while Griffiths blasted narrowly over as the contest ended in stalemate.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Hendry, Boyata, McGregor; Brown; Rogic (Ntcham 66), Armstrong; Forrest, Dembele (Griffiths 66), Sinclair (Edouard 66)

    Not Used: De Vries, Roberts, Ajer, Musonda

    DUNDEE (5-3-1-1) Parish; O’Hara, Caulker, Kasunga, Meekings, Holt; Kamara, McGowan (Wighton 87), Spence; Deacon (Moussa 66); Murray (Leitch-Smith 77)

    Not Used: Ferrie, Kerr, Aurtenetxe, Wolters



    Scottish Premiership

    Saturday, March 31, 2018

    Celtic Park

    CELTIC…3

    (Dembele 25, Armstrong 48, Rogic 60)

    ROSS COUNTY…0

    CELTIC resumed their return to Premiership action following the international break with a comfortable 3-0 win over Ross County at Paradise.

    The Hoops were back to their best as they dismantled their opponents with fluid attacking football to extend their lead at the top of the table.

    Moussa Dembele opened the scoring in the first half, and goals from Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic after the break made for a convincing win from the champions.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that were held to a goalless draw at Fir Park two weeks ago with Mikael Lustig and Scott Sinclair coming into the side at the expense of Jack Hendry and Odsonne Edouard.

    The visitors immediately found themselves under pressure against a Hoops side that looked sharp and determined to open the scoring early on. Armstrong was the embodiment of that mentality and set about tormenting the opposition down the left flank.

    He flashed a shot just over the crossbar early on after cutting inside with the ball from the left and firing a shot across the face of goal.

    Shortly afterwards, the midfielder slid a great ball across the face of goal, which went unanswered, and then he saw another shot hit the side netting after doing well to create space for himself in the penalty area.

    The Staggies were fortunate not to find themselves trailing by a few goals inside the first 10 minutes, particularly when Dembele dragged his effort just wide of the post, which came about after James Forrest floated a fantastic ball into the box.

    Dedryck Boyata almost broke the deadlock when he came within inches of heading in from an Armstrong set-piece out on the right but the Belgian defender was flagged offside in any event.

    The Hoops maintained a relentless grasp on the game throughout the first half and continued to pile on the pressure with wave after wave of attack.

    Scott Sinclair joined Armstrong in terrorising the Ross County defence with an effort of his own but he was unable to test McCarey. His first chance was deflected out for a corner and he wasted a golden opportunity from the resulting corner when he fired wide from the edge of the six-yard box.

    But it was Sinclair who won a penalty for Celtic when he was impeded by Jason Naismith in the box, and Dembele coolly tucked the ball into the bottom right corner to hand Celtic a well-deserved lead.

    Celtic dominated possession for the remainder of the half but the goalscoring opportunities lessened as they became more patient in the build-up and looked to pick Ross County apart with some fluid flowing link-up play across the pitch.

    One such instance of Celtic’s free-flowing passing came when Forrest played a neat one-two with Mikael Lustig inside the box. For the return pass the Swede chipped the ball up for Forrest to run onto but the winger’s volley was too high.

    Ross County made life even more difficult for themselves shortly before the break when their captain Andrew Davies was sent off ploughing into the back of Scott Brown.

    Celtic maintained momentum from the first-half into the second and increased their lead only a few minutes after the restart.

    Armstrong had been popping up all over the place and looked likely to get a goal at some point given his contribution. It arrived when he combined well with Forrest on the edge of the area and slotted the ball into the bottom corner with a deft left-foot finish.

    The Scotland midfielder almost grabbed a second when Forrest ran across the face of goal and laid the ball off to him, but the shot took a deflection and substitute goalkeeper Scott Fox was able to hold on to it.

    Forrest’s attacking play was instrumental in the Celtic’s third goal as he picked out Rogic’s run with well-timed pass. The Australian’s first touch saw him skip past Laim Fontaine and Harry Souttar could do little to stop him working space inside and tucking the ball into the bottom corner.

    Brendan Rodgers brought on Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths as Celtic continued to punish a 10-man Ross County with a constant threat in the final third.

    The chances continued to come and Fox was kept busy throughout the remainder of the game. He was relieved to see Rogic’s half volley from the edge of the area miss the target and Griffiths narrowly flagged offside when through on goal.

    As the clock ticked down, Griffiths and Roberts combined well inside the box and nearly made it 4-0 but the the Staggies had packed the area and desperately scrambled clear the danger.

    The win increases Celtic’s advantage at the top of the table to 11 points and, with a game in hand still to play, ensures the quest for a seventh successive league title is nearing completion.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Bain; Lustig, Boyata (Hendry 45), Ajer, McGregor; Brown; Rogic, Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts 62), Dembele (Griffiths 70) Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Ntcham, Musonda, Edouard

    ROSS COUNTY (5-4-1) Mccarey (Fox 44), Souttar, Fraser, Naismith, Davies, Fontaine; O’Brien, Curran, Routis, Schalk (Gardyne 65); Mckay (Dow 62)

    Not Used: Ngog, Dingwall, Melbourne, Gallagher



    Scottish Premiership

    Sunday, March 18, 2018

    Fir Park, Motherwell

    MOTHERWELL…0
CELTIC…0

    CELTIC were held to a frustrating draw by Motherwell at Fir Park, though the champions still managed to extend their lead at the top of the table to 10 points, with a game in hand.

    The Hoops dominated large parts of the game, particularly after the home side were reduced to ten men when Cedric Kipre saw red for kicking out at Scott Brown just before the break.

    However, they couldn’t find a way through a resilient Steelmen backline, with substitute Patrick Roberts coming closest to finding the net for the champions when he struck the bar from the edge of the box.

    Fresh from coming off the bench to score a wonderful winner in the Glasgow derby last weekend, Odsonne Edouard was promoted to the starting XI in one of two changes for the Hoops.

    Jack Hendry, another second-half substitute in the Ibrox triumph, was also restored to the team at right-back. The suspended Jozo Simunovic and the injured Kieran Tierney dropped out.

    Despite the freezing conditions at Fir Park, Celtic certainly weren’t caught cold in the opening exchanges, forcing the home side back and fashioning some promising positions, with Olivier Ntcham firing over from the edge of the box.

    Scott Bain had retained his place between the sticks following his impressive debut display in the win over Rangers, and he was called into action for the first time in the 11th minute to save Chris Cadden’s drive from distance.

    It had been a good response from the Steelmen to the Hoops’ early pressure, and Bain had to react quickly to turn Curtis Main’s header round the post. The keeper was also well positioned to block Ryan Bowman’s volley.

    Back came the Bhoys, and some individual magic from Tom Rogic saw him evade several home defenders, before Forrest’s final effort was deflected wide. The resulting corner dropped for Hendry at the near post but he couldn’t steer his shot on target.

    Rogic looked the most likely source of inspiration for the champions and, after engineering some space with some nimble footwork, he curled wide of the far post.

    As play surged from end to end, Bain showed strong hands to push Main’s ferocious free-kick, before James Forrest stung Trevor Carson’s palms after racing in behind the Motherwell backline.

    The hosts were working hard to disrupt Celtic’s normal rhythm, closing them down all over the pitch, and it took until the 38th minute for the visitors to get another sight of goal as Hendry was unable to keep his header down from Callum McGregor’s corner.

    As half-time approached, the Hoops were handed the initiative in a hard-fought contest as Stephen Robinson’s side were reduced to 10 men. After Brown beat Kipre to the ball, the defender lashed out at the Celtic skipper, prompting referee Craig Thomson to give the Motherwell player his marching orders.

    Holding a man advantage, Celtic took control as the second half got underway – Ntcham blasted over, Hendry had a shot blocked and Forrest was denied by Carson.

    Having won back possession, Rogic then darted into the box and smashed an angle shot on target t that Carson did well to divert wide. When the resultant corner fell for Rogic at the edge of the box, Carson again thwarted the Australian.

    As the pressure on the Motherwell goal intensified, latch-ditch tackles from Tom Aldred and Richard Tait prevented Dembele and Forrest pulling the trigger in the box, while Dembele headed over from Rogic’s cross.

    Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts all entered the fray to provide further creative spark for the HoopsRoberts, making his first appearance since coming off injured at Fir Park at the end of November, almost broke the deadlock when he cut inside from the right and saw his strike hit the top of the bar.

    As the game entered its closing stages, Hendry had a shot blocked at the far post from a corner and then Armstrong sent a curling effort inches wide as the hosts clung on.

    There was still time for some late drama. As Motherwell saw a penalty appeal waved away, Celtic broke quickly and Sinclair sped in on goal only for Tait to save his side with last-gasp block.

    Carson then came to his team’s rescue deep into stoppage time, turning Dembele’s header over the bar, the final word on a frustrating afternoon for Brendan Rodgers’ men.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Hendry, Ajer, Boyata, McGregor; Ntcham (Armstrong 60), Brown; Forrest (Roberts 68), Rogic, Edouard (Sinclair 60); Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Lustig, Compper, Musonda

    MOTHERWELL (3-5-2) Carson; Kipre, Aldred, Dunne; Tait, Cadden, McHugh, Campbell, Frear (Hendrie 68); Main, Bowman

    Not Used: Griffiths, Bigirimana, Petravicius, Newell, Turnbull, Maguire
Website Man of the Match: Tom Rogic




    Scottish Premiership

    Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

    Sunday, March 11, 2018

    RANGERS…2

    (Windass 3, Candieas 26)

    CELTIC…3

    (Rogic 11, 45+1, Edouard 69)

    ODSONNE Edouard’s sensational strike saw 10-man Celtic edge a five-goal Glasgow derby thriller at Ibrox and take a massive step towards a seventh successive league title.

    Just minutes after entering the fray from the bench, the 20-year-old curled home a sublime shot to put the Hoops in front for the first time in the match, a lead which they determinedly preserved until the final whistle, sparking jubilant scenes among the players, management team and the away supporters.

    Earlier, the champions had pegged back the hosts twice in the first half, through Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele, with Josh Windass and Daniel Candeias on target for the hosts.

    The match looked to have swung towards Rangers when Jozo Simunovic harshly saw red after clashing with Alfredo Morelos early in the second half but Brendan Rodgers’ side showed their class, quality and spirit to claim the victory, despite their man disadvantage.

    And they now hold a nine-point lead at the top of the table over their city rivals, with a game in hand as the league campaign enters the closing straight.

    Following an injury to Dorus de Vries, Scott Bain made his Celtic debut between the sticks, and his inclusion was one of three changes to the team that cruised past Morton last weekend to seal a spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

    Dedryck Boyata also returned from injury, having been sidelined for over a month, while Callum McGregor, who found the net twice against Rangers last season, also came into the starting XI.

    There was the usual frenetic start to proceedings, but Celtic found themselves behind with only three minutes on the clock. Boyata was dispossessed by Windass, who ran through no goal and beat Bain with an angled drive.

    Unflustered, the Hoops threatened a swift response when Olivier Ntcham threaded a pass through for the onrushing Kieran Tierney in the box but the full-back elected to cut the ball back instead of pulling the trigger and there were no-one on hand to capitalise.

    However, it didn’t take long for the champions to restore parity thanks to another moment of magic from Celtic’s Wizard of Oz, Rogic. Receiving possession 30 yards from goal, the midfielder drove at the heart of the Rangers backline, before curling an exquisite shot into the far corner to send the away end into bedlam.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were now enjoying large periods of possession, probing for openings and fashioning several promising positions, though the next effort on goal fell the way of the hosts as Declan John fired over after cutting in from the left.

    Simunovic did get a sight of goal for the Bhoys, after Kristoffer Ajer had headed McGregor’s corner back into the mix, but he was unable to keep his effort down.

    And it was Graeme Murty’s side who struck again in the 26th minute as a cross from the left dropped invitingly for Candeias, who rifled into the corner.

    Buoyed by that, the home side poured forward, with Alfredo Morelos lashing across goal. Down the other end, Rogic brought out a save from Foderingham from distance as the game surged from end to end.

    Six minutes before the break, Foderingham was called into action again, diving to his left to push Dembele’s header wide, following Rogic’s corner.

    As the Hoops maintained the pressure, Foderingham failed to gather Ntcham’s cross, Dembele was first to the loose ball but his attempt was charged down.

    As half-time approached, it was all Celtic, and McGregor forced the increasingly busy Foderingham into a smart save with low effort after good work from Dembele.

    Eventually the pressure told. Scott Brown lofted a ball over the top, despite being fouled by Candeais, and Dembele beat the offside trap and then coolly lobbed Foderingham to send the teams in level after a breathless opening 45 minutes.

    Celtic continued where they had left off as the second half resumed. A lovely flick from Dembele released McGregor down the left. He was felled as he entered the box, with the loose falling for Ntcham, who couldn’t control his final attempt.

    After good work from Tierney and McGregor, Dembele had a similar result to Ntcham, but the Bhoys were now firmly in ascendency, with McGregor particularly assertive.

    But then the game swung back in Rangers’ direction. Simunovic and Morelos challenged for a long ball and referee Willie Collum gave the Hoops defender his marching orders for alleged elbow to the face.

    Brendan Rodgers responded by sending on Jack Hendry for Rogic, and making a quick tactical reshuffle as McGregor dropped into a deeper role.

    Helped by an excellent save from Bain from Morelos, the ten men doggedly held firm and then stunned the home crowd by taking the lead.

    Edouard had only been on the pitch two minutes when he found himself with some space at the edge of the box, and the young striker beat Foderingham with a sensational strike that nestled in the far corner, sparkling delirium among the Hoops faithful.

    Despite their man advantage, Rangers couldn’t find a way through as the brave Bhoys showed tremendous discipline and defensive durability.

    It took until the dying minutes for the Ibrox side to seriously threaten – Windass fired in an angled drive which Bain pushed onto the post, before the keeper reacted brilliant to make a miraculous save to deny Morelos from the rebound, as the champions held firm to seal a magnificent victory.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bain; Ajer, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest (Edouard 67), Rogic (Hendry 59), McGregor; Dembele (Armstrong 86)

    Not Used: Doohan, Roberts, Sinclair, Musonda

    RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates (Cardoso 14), Alves, John; Docherty, Goss (Cummings 74); Candeias, Windass, Murphy; Morelos

    Not Used: Alnwick, Miller, Herrera, Halliday, Holt



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    Scottish Cup quarter-finals

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, March 3, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Dembele 63, 70, Edouard 88)

    MORTON…0

    MOUSSA Dembele bagged a second-half brace to help Celtic see off Morton in Paradise and send them through to the Scottish Cup semi-finals, keeping their hopes alive of back-to-back trebles.

    After a goal-less first period, the striker opened the scoring with a powerful header from Tom Rogic’s cross and he sealed the victory from the penalty spot after he had been fouled in the box by Michael Doyle.

    As the clock ticked down, Odsonne Edouard put the gloss on what was ultimately a comfortable win for Brendan Rodgers’ side when he forced the ball home after good work from James Forrest.

    Having recovered from an injury he had picked up in the winter training camp, Marvin Compper came into make his debut in the only change from the team that beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie last weekend, with Mikael Lustig dropping to the bench.

    He lined up on the left of a back-three alongside Jozo Simunovic and Kristoffer Ajer, and the Bhoys were forced into some defensive work inside the opening 60 seconds as Gary Oliver threatened to fasten on to a stray pass, but Ajer was alert to the danger.

    The Championship club had come into the contest on a fine run of form, losing only once in eight games in all competitions, and they showed plenty of spirit and confidence in the opening exchanges. And as Celtic took time to discover their rhythm, experienced midfielder Gary Harkins curled a free-kick wide for the visitors following a foul on Oliver.

    Eventually, the Hoops started to stamp their authority on the game, and Thomas O’Ware had to clear Dembele’s goal-bound header off his line after the striker had met James Forrest’s hanging cross.

    Kieran Tierney and Scott Sinclair had efforts blocked and Rogic curled over as the champions grew in ascendency and forced Jim Duffy’s side into a deep defensive shell. It was now mostly one-way traffic, though Harkins did get a drive from distance on target for the Cappielow club, which was comfortable for De Vries.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Simunovic headed into the side-netting from a corner, before Rogic forced Derek Gaston into a superb one-handed save from the edge of the area. The Australian internationalist was also narrowly off target with a volley from an acute angle as the game remained deadlocked at the interval.

    Odsonne Edouard replaced Sinclair at the start of the second half as Brendan Rodgers sought a different attacking dimension, and the striker had a golden chance to open the scoring within two minutes of his introduction – Dembele’s shot dropped invitingly for him inside the box but he couldn’t beat Gaston.

    Moments later, Edouard reached the byline and picked out Dembele, who took an extra touch instead of pulling the trigger first time and was crowded out. Edouard was certainly making a difference but the next chance fell the way of the away side as Andrew Murdoch shot narrowly wide from 18 yards.

    Having upped the tempo and playing with more purpose, the cup holders were now carving out clearer chances and Gaston was called into action again to push Ntcham’s powerful effort behind for a corner.

    Just beyond the hour-mark, the Hoops finally broke the Greenock side’s brave resistance. Rogic dug out a deep cross from the right and Dembele rose highest to bullet home a header via the underside of the bar.

    Goal number two soon followed. Dembele was sent tumbling by Doyle as he burst into the box and referee John Beaton pointed the spot. The Frenchman picked himself up, before confidently dispatching the penalty high into the net.

    That extinguished Morton’s hopes and the hosts had further opportunities to add to their tally, with Edouard lashing inches over and Dembele having a header clawed away by Gaston as he came close to claiming a treble.

    But Gaston could do nothing to prevent Celtic adding a third in the closing stages as Edouard was rewarded for his impressive second-half showing, the forward blasting into the net via a slight deflection off Doyle.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) De Vries; Ajer, Simunovic, Compper (McGregor 83); Forrest, Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; Rogic (Musonda 68), Sinclair (Edouard 46); Dembele.

    Not Used: Bain, Roberts, Lustig, Kouassi

    MORTON (4-4-2) Gaston; Doyle,O’Ware, Lamie, Russell; Tidser (McHugh 78), Harkins, Murdoch, Ross (Iredale 87); Tiffoney, Oliver

    Not Used: Brennan, Strapp, Langan, Purdue


    495A564600000578-0-image-a-5_1518977297170


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, February 18, 2017

    CELTIC…0

    ST JOHNSTONE…0

    CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw by a dogged St Johnstone side on a frustrating day in Paradise – though the champions did extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points.

    Less than three days they had seen off Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Europa League, Brendan Rodgers’ side lacked their normal rhythm and fluency. And Saints goalkeeper Alan Mannus proved equal to the Hoops’ best attempts on target, most notably Kristoffer Ajer’s early header, and they had to settle for a share of the spoils.

    Tom Rogic made his long-awaited comeback from injury, having not featured since the Champions League game against Anderlecht on December 5.  The Australian internationalist’s welcome return to the side was one of seven changes to the team that dispatched Zenit so impressively in Thursday night’s Europa League last 32 encounter.

    Cristian Gamboa, Jack Hendry, Calvin Miller, Charly Musonda, Odsonne Edouard and Scott Sinclair were the other players to come in for the champions.  In the absence of the suspended Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, who scored a stunning winning goal against Zenit in his 150th appearance for the club, skippered the Celts, capping off a memorable week for the Celtic Youth Academy graduate.

    Despite the alterations, the hosts were soon into their stride, with Mannus forced into action in the fifth minute to push away Ajer’s close-range header from Charly Musonda’s free-kick. McGregor’s inviting low delivery from the left was then narrowly out of reach of Odsonne Edouard in the middle as the Hoops continued to push for the early breakthrough.

    After that initial flurry, however, the Bhoys struggled for penetration in the final third against the well-organised visitors. And on the half-hour mark, the Saints carved out their first chance as David Wotherspoon headed inches over from Blair Alston’s cross.

    Moments later, Richard Foster was off target from distance after Wotherspoon had rolled the ball into his path from a free-kick as the Perth side enjoyed their best spell of the match.Sinclair provided some much-needed attacking thrust for the hosts with a purposeful run through the middle which was halted by a foul. From 30 yards out, Edouard curled the resultant free-kick wide.

    Two minutes into the second half, Edouard came close to the opener after more good work from Sinclair. The Englishman raced forward from the halfway line and played in Edouard, but his final effort was blocked and the ball spun into Mannus’ arms.

    Although the away side threatened, when Foster knocked a dangerous ball across goal with no takers, Brendan Rodgers’ side had upped the tempo and showing greater attacking intent.After twisting away from his marker, Musonda had a shot pushed round the post by Mannus.

    Celtic cleverly worked the resultant corner and McGregor had two shots charged down as the Saints desperately threw men in front of the ball.Just after the hour mark, Rogic was withdrawn and replaced by Forrest, with Musonda moving inside to the No.10 role and he had another effort saved by Mannus, this time from a free-kick following a foul on Edouard.

    The Hoops were dominating possession but Tommy Wright’s team still posed a threat on the counter and Kristoffer Ajer had to make a timely tackle to divert Matthew Willock’s cutback to safety.Down the other end, Mannus came to his side’s rescue, saving at his near post from Sinclair, while Dembele, who had entered the fray in place of Edouard, headed wide from Miller’s centre.

    Kieran Tierney also came on a substitute in the closing stages, and his precise pass sent Sinclair scampering clear in the box, but somehow no-one was on hand to convert his cutback in the six-yard box.And despite further late pressure, Celtic couldn’t find a way through, with attention now turning towards European matters as the champions aim to book their place in the Europa League last 16 in Russia this week against Zenit.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Miller (Tierney 79); Kouassi; Rogic (Forrest 61), McGregor; Musonda, Edouard (Dembele 74), Sinclair

    Not Used: Bain, Simunovic, McInroy, Ralston

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Mannus; Shaughnessy, Kerr, Anderson, Foster (Tanser 59); Alston, Miller (Craig 89), Davidson, Wotherspoon; Williams (Willock 65), MacLean

    Not Used: Clark, Johnstone, McLean, Kane


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    UEFA Europa League

    Round of 32, 1st leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Thursday, February 15, 2018

    CELTIC…1

    (McGregor 78)

    ZENIT ST PETERSBURG…0

    CALLUM McGregor celebrated his 150th appearance for the Hoops with a stunning goal that gave Celtic a 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Europa League. Brendan Rodgers’ side produced an impressive European performance and were worthy winners of this last 32 tie.

    Indeed, the Russians were fortunate not to find themselves trailing by a considerable margin by the end of a first-half dominated by Celtic, but McGregor finally broke the deadlock in the second period with a fantastic goal on 78 minutes to hand Celtic a one-goal advantage going into the second leg.Brendan Rodgers made two changes from the side that defeated Partick Thistle 3-2 at the weekend, with McGregor and Eboue Kouassi starting ahead of Scott Sinclair and Charly Musonda.

    And Celtic dominated possession from the off, wasting no time in attacking the visitors as they went in search of an early lead.  Kieran Tierney was lively in attack and managed to get a shot off inside the box which was deflected out for a corner. The full-back used his change of pace to good effect as he burst past Miha Mevlja down the left flank again and again, and delivered dangerous crosses into the Zenit box.

    Olivier Ntcham also came close when he latched on to a pass from Moussa Dembele, but his shot went inches wide of the post.On the rare occasions that Zenit did have the ball, Celtic pressed them aggressively and the Russian side struggled to deal with the pressure. Kouassi won back possession deep inside Zenit’s half and quickly fed the ball to McGregor who worked enough space to get a shot off but it was saved by the Zenit keeper.

    Zenit rarely threatened in the half but they did issue a warning of their attacking threat when they forced a brilliant save from Dorus De Vries with a low cross at the near post which the Hoops keeper saved before Tierney cleared the resulting header off the line.McGregor played a key role in much of Celtic’s attacking play and troubled Zenit with his willingness to run at their defence and link up with Dembele. And he had a golden opportunity midway through the half when Ntcham delivered a great ball into the box, but McGregor’s shot was deflected out for a corner.

    And Dembele came within inches of scoring with 10 minutes remaining in the half but Tierney’s excellent low cross was just out of reach for both him and Kouassi.Celtic started the second half on the front foot and continued to heap pressure on Zenit. Opportunities soon followed with Tierney, initiating a counter-attack by firing a great diagonal ball across to Kouassi on the right. The Ivorian controlled well with his chest and immediately tried to slip the ball through to McGregor, but the Zenit goalkeeper rushed out to smoother the danger.

    Kouassi himself had a shot at goal shortly afterwards and surprised the Zenit keeper with a thunderous effort from distance which he could only awkwardly push away.As the half unfolded, a stubborn Zenit defence were able to limit Celtic’s chances and Brendan Rodgers responded by bringing on Charly Mussonda for Kouassi.

    The change had an almost immediate effect as the Hoops took the lead. Surrounded by Zent players out on the left touchline Musonda weaved space for himself and threaded the ball to Dembele, initiating a Celtic counter attack.A neat one-two down the left then saw Musonda loft the ball toward the back post where McGregor controlled the ball before smashing it across goal and into the roof of the net. It was a wonderful goal that capped a wonderful performance from the midfielder.

    Celtic managed the remaining 12 minutes of the game with composure to record an impressive and well-deserved 1-0 win over a top European side. Now they go into next week’s second leg in Russia aiming to complete the job.

    CELTIC: (3-5-1-1) De Vries; Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer; Forrest, Kouassi (Musonda 73), Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; McGregor; Dembele (Edouard 83).

    Not Used: Bain, Miller, Hendry, Rogic, Sinclair

    ZENIT ST PETERSBURG (4-3-3) Lunev; Mevlja, Mammana, Criscito, Smolnikov; Erokorin, Kuzyaev (Kranevitter 61), Paredes; Rigoni (Driussi 61), Kokorin, Zabolotny.

    Not Used: Lodygin, Terentyev, Poloz, Zhirkov, Ivanovic


    Scottish-Cup

    Scottish Cup fifth round

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, February 10, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Forrest 2, 10, 54)

    PARTICK THISTLE…2

    (Doolan 20, Sammon 84)

    JAMES Forrest hammered in his first-ever hat-trick as the Hoops edged past Partick Thistle to seal their spot in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals, on the day the Celtic family remembered former player Liam Miller.

    Forrest had already bagged his brace inside the opening 10 minutes as the champions made a blistering start to the contest.Although Kris Doolan reduced arrears, profiting from Jozo Simunovic’s errant back-pass, Forrest finished off a long passing move early in the second half to put the hosts back in charge.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side spurned chances to add to their tally, before Connor Sammon gave the visitors hope with a goal six minutes from time.

    But the Celts saw out the closing stages to book their place in Sunday’s draw for the last-eight of the competition, keeping their hopes alive of back-to-back trebles.

    There were three changes to the team who faced Kilmarnock last week, with Mikael Lustig, Simunovic and Scott Sinclair coming into the starting XI. The injured Dedryck Boyata, Jack Hendry and Eboue Kouassi dropped out.

    There was a poignant start to proceedings as Paradise stood in a minute’s silence to pay tribute to Miller, who sadly passed away last night at the age of 36. Both sets of players also wore black armbands to mark the memory of the Irishman, a graduate of the Celtic Youth Academy who went on to make 44 appearances for the club.

    Once the action got underway, it only took the Hoops 76 seconds to open the scoring as they burst from the blocks. Moussa Dembele controlled Scott Brown’s ball over the top and pulled the trigger. Although Danny Devine managed to block the striker’s shot, Forrest was on hand to bury the loose ball.

    Playing at a furious tempo, the Hoops quickly fashioned further chances, with no-one able to capitalise on Sinclair’s dangerous cutback from the byline and Dembele heading over from Kieran Tierney’s delivery.

    Within 10 minute, they broke Thistle’s resistance again thanks to a superb solo goal from Forrest. Picking up possession near the halfway line, the winger accelerated away from several opponents, danced past two defenders and then beat goalkeeper Tomas Cerny with a fine finish.

    Brimming with confidence, Forrest continued to cause consternation to the Jags with his purposeful runs and trickery. And he almost made it 3-0 and bagged a 15-minute hat-trick after combing with Musonda, making his first home start, but Cerny pulled off an excellent save to push his low effort beyond the post.

    It had been one-way traffic, with Dorus de Vries barely having a touch of the ball, but a defensive mistake allowed the Maryhill side back into the contest. Simunovic’s back-pass was intercepted by Doolan, who bore down on de Vires and fired home.

    That goal gave Alan Archibald’s a lift and Tierney had to make a timely interception to thwart Ryan Edwards on the half-hour mark.From being in complete control, Celtic had lost their earlier fluency and attacking verve, with the game becoming increasingly scrappy and punctuated by fouls.

    However, the interval provided them with an opportunity to regroup and they restored their two-goal nine minutes after the restart. Following a prolonged passage of passes, Musonda Tierney and Sinclair provided the penetration down the left.

    And when Sinclair picked out Forrest in the middle, the Scotland internationalist took a terrific touch to evade a host of Thistle defenders, before rifling beyond Cerny to claim his treble and move onto 16 goals for the season.

    Moments later, the champions threatened from the same flank as Tierney’s inviting cross flashed across the six-yard box, with no takers.

    At the other end, a tremendous tackle from Kirstoffer Ajer on Blair Spittal, just as the wide-man prepared to pull the trigger, saw the Celts launch a swift breakaway only for the move to fizzle out.

    As Thistle committed more men forward, Brendan Rodgers’ men came close to inflicting further punishment – Dembele dragged a shot wide, before Sinclair shot straight at Cerny after being played in by BrownStill, it looked as though it would be a comfortable conclusion to the contest for the cup holders until substitute Sammon pulled a late goal back for the Firhill side.

    There would be no late rescue act for the Jags, however, as the cup holders marched on and took another step towards the Hampden showpiece in May.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney; Ntcham, Brown; Forrest (Kouassi 88), Musonda (McGregor 65), Sinclair (Edouard 79); Dembele

    Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Rogic, Miller

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Cerny; McGinn, Devine, Cargill, Booth; Barton (Osman 57), Woods (McCarthy 79); Spittal, Edwards, Erskine; Doolan (Sammon 60)

    Not Used: Scully, Dumbuya, Penrice, Storey




    Scottish Premiership

    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    CELTIC…0

    KILMARNOCK…1

    (Mulumbu 70)

    CELTIC were unable to take any points from Rugby Park as a stubborn Kilmarnock side snatched a 1-0 win. The result was Kilmarnock’s first home win over the Hoops in eight years and only the second time the Bhoys have lost in the Scottish Premiership under Brendan Rodgers. A second half-goal from Youssouf Mulumbu was enough to separate the two sides in a fiercely contested match in Ayrshire.

    The manager had made two changes to the side that beat Hearts 3-1 at Paradise in midweek with Jack Hendry making his Hoops bow.. He started at right-back in a Celtic back-three in place of Jozo Simunovic.The second change saw Charly Musonda starting ahead of Odsonne Edouard in midfield.

    Celtic dominated possession in the opening stages and patiently chipped away at Kilie’s defence, with some good attacking playing coming down the left flank from Kieran Tierney.The first real chance came from Olivier Ntcham, who created enough space from himself to have a shot at goal from 25-yards but the surface caused him to slip and he dragged his effort narrowly wide of the post.

    Play was briefly halted early on after Dedryck Boyata sustained an injury from making a tackle just inside the Celtic box and he had to be substituted. He was replaced by Nir Bitton. Kristoffer Ajer also picked up an injury later in the half and had to be substituted as Scott Sinclair entered the fray.

    Dorus de Vries was called into action when he was forced into a great save by Jordan Jones, who had a shot from close range following a Kilmarnock corner. The winger enjoyed a similar chance later in the half when he turned inside the box and had a go but again de Vries saved.The home side were well organised and made life difficult for Celtic, particularly in the last third where the Scottish champions were limited to few real clear cut chances.

    Ntcham was the source of Celtic’s only other real chance in the first half came from a free-kick, but his shot lacked enough dip and skimmed off the top of the net.

    Celtic went in at the interval having enjoyed most of the possession and controlled the play for large parts, but Kilmarnock’s organisation and aggression made for a scrappy game and curbed Celtic’s goal-scoring opportunities.

    Celtic started the second half which more attacking intent and began to open up their opponents.Sinclair was involved in Celtic’s first chance which stemmed from a great James Forrest run from the halfway line. Sinclair’s effort with the outside of his right foot took a deflection and MacDonald held on to it.

    Celtic were then denied a penalty when Tierney’s delivery into the box hit the thigh of Stephen O’Donnell and then bounced off the Killie man’s outstretched arm.

    They continued to probe at the Kilmarnock defence, though, and began to carve openings. Dembele held the ball up well for Sinclair inside the box but the winger sent his shot across the face of goal.

    Musonda then had a go when he dribbled his way into the box but a challenge knocked his stride and his shot sliced wide of the mark.Kilmarnock snatched the lead with 20 minutes to go after Jones swung a cross into the back post which Mulumbu fired back across the face of goal and into the bottom corner.

    Celtic worked the ball from flank to flank in search of an equaliser but Kilmarnock sat deep and made things difficult for Brendan Rodgers’ side.Edouard came on as a sub following the goal and managed to cause some problems. Tierney slipped a terrific ball through to him inside the box but the Frenchman’s cut-back failed to find any team-mates inside a packed area.

    Celtic bombarded the Kilmarnock defence in the closing stages and Ntcham came close late on with a great free-kick which MacDonald pushed wide of his goal but they were unable to salvage anything from the game on a frustrating afternoon.

    CELTIC: (3-4-2-1) De Vries: Hendry, Boyata (Bitton 10), Ajer (Sinclair 34); Forrest, Kouassi (Edouard 70), Brown, Tierney; Ntcham, Musonda, Dembele

    Not Used: Bain, Gamboa, Miller, McGregor

    KILMARNOCK: (4-4-2) MacDonald; O’Donnell, Greer, Broadfoot, Taylor; McKenzie, Dicker, Mulumbu, Jones (Findlay 90); Brophy (Erwin 81), Boyd (Tshibola 64)

    Not Used: Fasan, Simpson, Kiltie, Frizzell


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    CELTIC…3

    (Edouard 3, Boyata 25, Dembele 36)

    HEARTS…1

    (Lafferty 67)

    CELTIC blew Hearts away with a blistering first-half performance to move 14 points clear at the top of the table on the night new Bhoy Charly Musonda made his Hoops bow.Goals from Odsonne Edouard, Dedryck Boyata and Moussa Dembele had the champions in complete control at the break as they ran amok in Paradise.

    Although the visitors belatedly pulled a goal back through Kyle Lafferty’s opportunist strike, the Hoops should have added to their tally in the second period as they coasted to a well-deserved victory, which keeps them in a commanding position in the title race.

    The manager had made four changes to the team that beaten Hibernian 1-0 at the weekend.

    Dorus de Vries started between the sticks in place of the injured Craig Gordon, while Eboue Kouassi, Edouard and Dembele also came into the side.Along with Gordon, Callum McGregor, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths, who picked up a calf injury in the win over Hibs, were the players to drop out.

    There was already a buzz around the ground with the news that Musonda had been named on the bench, following his arrival from Chelsea last night on an 18-month loan deal.And the positive atmosphere continued into the contest as the champions roared out the blocks and opened the scoring inside three minutes. Dembele held the ball up on the halfway line and fed the onrushing Edouard, whose searing pace saw him burst beyond the Hearts backline, and the young forward finished in some style, beating goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin from just inside the area with an accurate finish.

    That early breakthrough only served to further embolden Celtic as they attacked with pace and purpose, with a series of dangerous crosses flashed into the visitors’ box from either flank. Tierney was next to try his luck, firing just wide from distance after a mazy run.

    Off the ball, the Bhoys’ work-rate and aggression was keeping them on the front foot and preventing Craig Levein’s side from building any momentum. Indeed, Celtic’s next chance stemmed from Kouassi’s tremendous tackle, with the loose ball falling for Dembele, who was denied by McLaughlin.

    Goal number two wasn’t long in arriving. though. Once more, Dembele was the provider, controlling the ball in the box and playing in Boyata who coolly slotted under McLaughlin from an acute angle.Playing with an incredible ferocity and urgency, the champions were threatening to run riot, and they broke the away side’s resistance again 10 minutes before the break. The outstanding Tierney bamboozled Connor Randall after a surging run down the left, and Dembele was on hand in the middle to apply the finish to the left-back’s inviting delivery.

    Hearts managed to survive further punishment until half-time, despite some close calls, but Brendan Rodgers’ side were determined to reassert their dominance as they emerged for the restart, quickly putting the Tynecastle side under pressure as they fashioned several promising positions.Gradually, the Hearts rearguard started to creak. Dembele curled inches over after being picked out by Ntcham and then Edouard raced through on goal but saw his effort blocked by McLaughlin.

    Just past the hour mark, Paradise then stood to acclaim Charly Musonda as he made his Hoops bow, replacing Forrest, and it only took a few minutes for the 21-year-old to show his flair with an exquisite back-heel that released Kristoffer Ajer in the box.

    The Norwegian’s cross was knocked back into the mix by Dembele, and Edouard’s close-range effort was blocked as somehow Hearts escaped.Straight up the other end, they then reduced the deficit as Lafferty fastened on to a loose ball and found the far corner from 18 yards.

    Normal service soon resumed, though, as Ntcham twice shot narrowly wide and Musonda dragged an effort past the post.It would have been fitting for Celtic to put the gloss on an dazzling display, and they did threaten in the closing stages though Scott Sinclair’s curling attempt and Ntcham, who had a shot blocked at the near post, but their impressive first-half efforts had been more than enough.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) De Vries; Boyata, Simunovic, Ajer; Forrest (Musonda 62), Kouassi, Brown, Tierney; Ntcham, Eduoard (McGregor 84); Dembele (Sinclair 70)

    Not Used: Doohan, Bitton, Gamboa, Miller

    HEARTS (4-1-4-1) McLaughlin; Randall, Souttar, Berra, Mitchell; Djoum; Callachan (Amankwaa 46), Cowie, Cochran (Bauben 38), Milinkovic; Lafferty (Naismith 78)

    Not Used: Hamilton, Smith, Hughes, Moore



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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, January 27, 2018

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 27)

    HIBERNIAN…0

    LEIGH Griffiths was the goal hero for the second time inside a week as Celtic defeated Hibernian 1-0 at Paradise. The striker scored against his former club for the first time in his career and he is now just three shy of 100 goals for the Hoops.

    The 27-year-old started in place of Odsonne Edouard as Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that defeated Partick Thistle 2-1 in Tuesday’s Glasgow derby in which Griffiths came on to score the winner.

    The other change saw Jozo Simunovic come into the heart of a Celtic back-three in place of Mikael Lustig.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were organised and composed as Hibs moved the ball around the centre of the pitch in the opening stages but within 10 minutes Celtic had settled into a good rhythm and created a couple of opportunities.

    The first saw James Forrest continue to exemplify his excellent form this season as he used his pace to burst down the right wing and swing a great ball into the box for Griffiths, which was headed clear by the visitors.

    Olivier Ntcham was lively from the off and looked to test Ofir Marciano early on with a strike from around 30 yards but the keeper saved comfortably. The Frenchman almost assisted Grifiths shortly afterwards when he drove down the left wing and fired a dangerous ball across the six-yard box.

    The best opportunity to open the scoring fell to Scott Sinclair midway through the half. Celtic were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area after Callum McGregor and Marciano pulled off a good save to get a hand to Griffiths’ shot.

    Sinclair was there in a flash for the rebound but the ball bounced high and his side-footed effort in front of an empty net hit the underside of the crossbar.

    Hibs responded to the scare and threatened Celtic on a couple of occasions, notably when the pace of Brandon Barker allowed the winger to get in behind the Celtic defence and force a great save from Craig Gordon inside the box.

    From there, though, Celtic strengthened their grasp on the game as they began to pick apart the visitors, particularly down the wings where Stevenson and Ambrose were unable to prevent Sinclair and Forrest delivering some good balls into the box.

    On one such occasion Sinclair sped past Dylan McGeouch and chipped the ball into Griffiths but the striker was unable to hit his volley cleanly and it bounced the wrong side of the post.

    He only needed a half chance to make up for the miss, however, moments later. Paul Hanlon’s attempted clearance from a Tierney cross fell to the Hoops striker inside the six-yard box and he slid in to cushion a shot into the net. It marked his 97th Celtic goal and his first against his former employers.

    Griffiths’ delight turned to frustration 10 minutes before the break, though, as he was forced off with an injury and was replaced by Moussa Dembele.

    There was also a change in keepers for the start of the second period as Dorus De Vries replaced Craig Gordon, who had picked up a knock towards the end of the half, in the Celtic goal.

    Celtic continued to dominate possession and looked to attack Neil Lennon’s side from the restart and were unfortunate not to have increased their lead early on.

    Sinclair was denied a chance to finally get his name on the scoresheet early in the second half. Tierney was brought down close to the byline and Ntcham’s low ball from the resulting free-kick eventually found the Englishman. His shot from just outside a packed six-yard box was on target but straight at the keeper.

    The close call again spurred Hibs into action and they looked to attack Celtic more when in possession, however, De Vries was never really tested and it was Celtic who were more productive with possession.

    Sinclair was again at the fore of a Celtic attack when he breezed past Ambrose out on the wing and cut a perfect ball back for the on-rushing Forrest, whose resulting shot from inside the box went high over the crossbar.

    The chances were limited as the second half progressed and, apart from a Dembele shot from a tight angle and a Martin Boyle effort from distance, neither side were able to forge any more clear-cut chances.

    In the closing stages, Celtic dominated possession, comfortably seeing out the game to secure a 1-0 win and cement their commanding lead at the top of the table.

    CELTIC: (3-4-2-1) Gordon (De Vries 45); Boyata, Simunovic, Ajer; Tierney, Ntcham, Brown, Forrest (Kouassi 70); Sinclair, McGregor; Griffiths (Dembele 34)

    Not Used: Bitton, Gamboa, Miller, Edouard

    HIBERNIAN (4-5-1) Marciano; Ambrose, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson; McGinn, Barker (MacLaren 84), Boyle (Murray 54), Slivka, McGeouch; Shaw (Swanson 68)

    Not Used: Bain, Matulevicius, Rherras, Porteous


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    Scottish Premiership

    Firhill, Glasgow

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    CELTIC…2

    (Sinclair 55, Griffiths 70)

    PARTICK THISTLE…1

    (Sammon 33)

    CELTIC returned to action in the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 win over Partick Thistle at Firhill. The Hoops battled back to clinch a thrilling victory in the Glasgow derby and move 11 points clear at the top of the table.

    The Jags went into half-time in the lead after being awarded a penalty, but second-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths ensured the Hoops secured a well-deserved win.

    Celtic kicked off proceedings at pace and attacked Thistle from the start. Kieran Tierney drove a low ball across the face of goal in the first minute which deflected through to Edouard, but the French striker was unable to test the keeper with his effort.

    He had a better opportunity two minutes later when Olivier Ntcham intercepted a stray pass and quickly slipped the ball through to his team-mate. Edouard cut inside and fired off a shot with his right foot from the edge of the area, but Tomas Cerney saved comfortably.

    Celtic’s best opportunity of the half came by way of Ntcham. The French midfielder had a shot from 30 yards but his strike flashed just wide of the post.

    Craig Gordon was forced into making a great save midway through the half when he pushed over Miles Storey’s shot from the right side of the box. Alan Archibald’s side were well-organised and made life difficult for the Hoops with high pressing and aggressive defending which limited any space for Celtic to exploit.

    They almost conceded from a corner, though. A high ball to the back post was side footed back across goal by Ntcham and Edouard’s back-heel was saved by Cerny.

    As the half progressed Celtic chipped away at their opponent’s defence and continued to craft opportunities. Tierney went in search of his fourth goal of the season when he cut inside and drove towards goal but his shot from 25 yards failed to hit the target.

    The Jags took the lead against the run of play though when Mikael Lustig’s attempted clearance gifted Storey the ball inside the box. Craig Gordon rush off his line to pounce on the danger but the referee awarded a penalty after ruling Lustig had pulled the Thistle striker, and Conor Sammon finished from the spot.

    Brendan Rodgers made some changes at half-time and Celtic switched to a back three as Lustig made way for Griffiths.

    The Scotland striker was unable to covert a golden opportunity early in the second period. The ball was played through to him and he had only the keeper to beat, but Cerny was off his line in a flash and was able to block the shot.

    It took Celtic just 10 minutes from the restart to force a way back into the game, though. Scott Sinclair cut inside and ran across goal before being chopped down by Mustapha Dumbuya inside the box. The Hoops winger then calmly tucked away the penalty away to score his 17th goal of the season.

    From there Celtic appeared to move up a gear and began playing at a tempo which Thistle struggled to contain. Forrest was on form all night and looked determined to get his name on the scoresheet. He came close to doing so when he burst forward with the ball and cut outside before letting off a powerful shot which was unfortunately straight at the keeper.

    Ntcham played well in the second half and created openings in the final third with some astute passing in behind the defence. He supplied McGregor, who timed his run perfectly, with a wonderful pass into the box but the shot was again saved.

    Moments later Cerny again saved his team when Tierney’s right-footed driven shot from distance was heading for the bottom corner before he tipped it round the post.

    Brendan Rodgers’ tactical changes at half-time paid off and Celtic had turned the game around midway through the second half when Griffiths put Celtic ahead. Another darting run from Forrest opened Thistle up and the winger slipped the ball out to Brown. The captain picked out the in running Griffiths who threaded the ball in with his left foot at the near post.

    A third goal for the Hoops looked certain when a looping ball over the top found Griffiths clear through on goal but Thistle defender Baily Cargill denied him with a last-ditch tackle inside the penalty box.

    In the end Celtic had to settle for just 2-1 win but it could have been far more given the numerous chances.

    CELTIC: (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig (Griffiths 45), Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Ntcham; Forrest, Sinclair (Simunovic 76), Edouard (Bitton 83)

    Not Used: De Vries , Kouassi, Johnston, Dembele,

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerney; Dumbuya, Cargill, Keown, Osman; Spittal, Sammon, Edwards, Penrice, McCarthy; Storey (Erskin 76)

    Not Used: Scully, Booth, Doolan, Barton, McGinn, Nitriansky


    Celtic v Rangers - Scottish Premier League


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, December 30, 2017

    CELTIC…0

    RANGERS…0

    CELTIC were held to a frustrating goal-less draw by Rangers in today’s Glasgow derby but they will still head into the winter shutdown with a commanding lead at the top of the table.

    Scott Sinclair passed up the Scottish treble-winners’ best chance to find the net in the first-half, the winger firing wide in the box after being picked out by Stuart Armstrong.

    And while Brendan Rodgers’ side were unable to harvest the three points they would have wanted against their city rivals, they can still reflect on a highly-satisfying first half of the season, which sees them in possession of the League Cup, holding a handsome lead at the league summit and still involved in European football.

    There were three changes to the Celtic team that defeated Dundee on Boxing Day, with Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele coming into the starting XI at the expense of Oliver Ntcham, Leigh Griffiths and the injured Jonny Hayes.

    As the match began at a furious pace, it was the visitors who fashioned the first opening in the fifth minute. Josh Windass intercepted Mikael Lustig’s pass and played in Alfredo Morelos, but Craig Gordon was equal to the striker’s angled effort, with Lustig scrambling back to clear the rebound.

    Stung into action, the champions started to stamp their authority on proceedings and created a flurry of chances in quick succession.

    First, following Armstrong’s free-kick, Dembele got an outstretched boot to Dedryck Boyata’s knockdown, but the Frenchman couldn’t generate sufficient power to trouble Wes Foderingham. James Forrest came even closer moments later. Taking Kieran Tierney’s low cross in his stride, he evaded one defender before seeing his low effort tipped inches wide by Foderingham.

    On the quarter-hour mark, the Ibrox side had another lucky escape. From another Armstrong set-piece, Dembele’s looping header forced Foderingham into a one-handed save. Sinclair’s had two attempts to convert the rebound yet, somehow, James Tavernier and then Foderingham managed to deny him on the line.

    Driven on by the tireless and tenacious Scott Brown, Brendan Rodgers’ side were now dominating the midfield, and a mazy run from Sinclair down the left saw them unlock the Rangers rearguard again 10 minutes before the interval. However, while the winger’s fizzing delivery eluded Foderingham, it also had too much pace for Dembele to reach it.

    On the stroke of half-time, the Bhoys should have opened the scoring. Thrusting purposely into the box, Armstrong collected a return pass from Callum McGregor. His cutback fell invitingly for Sinclair but, as Paradise waited for the net to bulge, he dragged his shot narrowly wide of the post.

    That almost proved costly as Rangers were denied by a superb save from Gordon early in the second period. Daniel Candeias dug out a cross from the right and Tavernier met it flush on the volley, but Celtic’s No.1 got an outstretched hand to the ball.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Armstrong, under pressure, could only lash wide from an acute angle after being supplied by Forrest.

    As the half wore on, Graeme Murty’s side grew in ascendency, and Gordon made a sensational stop to block Morelos’ header from point-blank range.

    In an attempt to wrestle back control of the contest, Griffiths and Ntcham were introduced for Dembele and Sinclair. But Morelos spurned another opportunity when he headed wide from Tavernier’s excellent cross.

    With 10 minutes left on the clock, some clever footwork from Ntcham allowed the Bhoys to mount a breakaway, but Griffiths and then McGregor were crowded out before they could pull the trigger.

    Ntcham’s strength and composure was making a difference, however, and Forrest had a shot charged down in the box after being picked out by the French Under-21 internationalist. And although the hosts mounted some late pressure, they couldn’t conjure up a late winner to finish a memorable 2017 with a flourish as a hard-fought encounter ended in stalemate.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Forrest, Dembele (Griffiths 61), Sinclair (Ntcham 72).

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Edouard, Johnston

    RANGERS (4-1-4-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Alves (Bates 18) Wilson, John; McCrorie; Candeias, Holt, Kranjcar (Pena 80) Windass; Morelos (Herrera 89).

    Not Used: Alnwick, Hodson, Hardie, Barjona



    Scottish Premiership

    Dens Park, Dundee

    Tuesday December 26, 2017

    DUNDEE…0

    CELTIC…2

    (Forrest 7, Griffiths 42)

    JAMES Forrest scored his 12th goal of the season as Celtic eased past Dundee with a 2-0 win at Dens Park. The champions now sit 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after clinching their third successive win without conceeding.

    Forrest opened the scoring early on before Leigh Griffiths doubled the advantage late in the first half. Celtic dominated the entire game and Dundee were fortunate to escape with only a 2-0 loss.

    Leigh Griffiths replaced Odsonne Edouard in attack while Jonny Hayes retained his place in the starting XI after scoring his debut for Celtic in the 3-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday. Hayes was accompanied on the opposite wing by James Forrest with Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham in the centre of midfield in front of captain Scott Brown.

    Kristoffer Ajer’s impressive displays in the heart of defence in recent weeks saw the 19-year-old handed a place in the starting XI for the third game running as he lined up alongside Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney.

    The Hoops quickly took control of proceedings with slick passing and high pressing which never allowed Neil McCann’s side to gain a footing in the game. James Forrest issued a warning of things to come for the home side when he lashed a low shot across goal inside two minutes before Callum McGregor hit the post with a side-footed effort from Mikael Lustig’s cut-back.

    Forrest made amends for the missed opportunity minutes later when he scored his 12th goal of the season. The champion’s sharp passing opened up the hosts when Griffiths slipped the ball in behind the Dundee defence for Kieran Tierney to cut back for Forrest to fire homke from six yards.

    Mikey Johnston made his third appearance of the season when he came on for the injured Jonny Hayes, who had to be stretchered off with 15 minutes remaining in the first half. Celtic’s momentum was unaffected by the lengthy injury stoppage and Dundee quickly found themselves on the back foot again once the game restarted, with Ntcham coming close from distance and Tierney firing another low pass across the six-yard box.

    Dundee’s inability to contend with Celtic’s high pressing almost cost them another goal with five minutes remaining in the first half. Substitute Darren O’Dea’s back-pass to Elliot Parish left his keeper short and Griffiths darted in to steal the ball. He rounded the keeper close to the byline but Parish recovered well to thwart the danger.

    He could not deny Griffith minutes later after Scott Brown won the ball in the middle of the pitch and quickly released Ntcham. The Frenchman slipped the ball out to Griffiths who timed his run well and tucked the ball beyond Parish with his clinical left foot.

    Young Mikey Johnston illustrated why Brendan Rodgers has praised him so highly with some excellent attacking play down the left wing. The 18-year-old forced a great save out of Parish just before the break after running at the Dundee defence and creating enough space with his quick footwork to fire a low shot towards the near post.

    Dundee were fortunate to escape the half with only the two-goal deficit, thanks to a great save from Parish to deny a wonderful effort from Forrest from a tight angle. McGregor resumed the attack in the second half and created a good opportunity for himself when he nutmeged Jack Hendry and drove towards goal but his left-footed effort from outside the box was too high.

    Celtic completely controlled possession and picked apart their opponents with neat passing and lots of movement off the ball. Midway through the half, Ntcham ran across goal and struck a wonderful shot from the edge of the box which was narrowly wide of the far post. Forrest then came close with a mazy run that saw him skip past three players before shooting back across and missing the target.

    Celtic were rarely tested in the second half, with the exception of an O’Dea header from a set-piece which went over and a McGowan shot from the edge of the penalty box which went a few yards wide.The champions moved up a gear in the latter stages of the half as they went in search of a third goal.

    It nearly came with around 10 minutes remaining when a burst of pace from Forrest afforded him enough space to dink a fantastic ball to the back post. Johnston dashed into the space to meet the ball first-time with a volley that went narrowly over the crossbar.

    The win sees Celtic extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 11 points, with second place Aberdeen scheduled to play tomorrow. Brendan Rodgers’ side will now turn their attention to their last fixture before the winter break when Rangers come to Paradise this Saturday.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 67); Hayes (Johnston 29), Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 79)

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Edouard

    DUNDEE (4-4-1-1) Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, Kamara, McGowan, El Bakhtaoui (Lambert 61); Leitch-Smith (Henvey 78), Moussa

    Not Used: Ferrie, Holt, Waddell, Curran



    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday December 23, 2017

    CELTIC…3

    (Lustig 40, Hayes 68, Ntcham 74)

    ABERDEEN…0

    JONNY Hayes scored his first competitive goal in the Hoops as the champions swept aside second-placed Aberdeen with a convincing 3-0 win at Paradise.

    Celtic punished Aberdeen from start to finish, dominating them in the second half as the Bhoys surged eight-points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership at Christmas.

    Mikael Lustig opened the scoring in the first half before Hayes and Olivier Ntcham added two more in the second half.

    Hayes lined-up against his former employers as Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the team that recorded a 2-0 win over Partick Thistle on Wednesday night.

    Olivier Ntcham and Moussa Dembele returned to the starting XI while Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard dropped to the bench.

    Kristoffer Ajer retained his spot in the heart of the backline alongside Dedryck Boyata, and the young Norwegian put in another convincing performance following his impressive showing against the Jags in midweek.

    Celtic piled the pressure on their opponents from the off and hemmed them into their own penalty area in the opening minutes as Aberdeen put themselves under pressure by conceding numerous free-kicks with reckless tackles.

    The champions illustrated their attacking intent early on when Lustig threaded a wonderful ball in behind Considine for Hayes down the right. The Irish midfielder swung a great ball into the Aberdeen box which was defended well.

    Aberdeen were exposed on the opposite flank early on when Scott Sinclair slipped the ball into an on-rushing Kieran Tierney inside the visitors’ box. Tierney took it to the byline but Considine cut off the space to kill the threat of the cut back.

    The game began to balance out midway through the half as the tempo increased and Aberdeen began to create some opportunities of their own. Gary Mackay-Steven was gifted a great chance midway through the half when Dedryck Boyata was caught out by bounce of the ball in the final third. The former Celtic winger shaved the outside of the far post with his low, driven shot.

    Scott Sinclair, however, had the best chance of the first half when he raced through on goal but he was denied his 16th goal of the season after Joe Lewis pulled off a fantastic save.

    Hayes was troubling the Dons with his pace and quick footwork, and when he twisted his way to the byline, there were no takers for his excellent pass across he six-yard box.

    The first half was end-to-end, with both sides creating good opportunities in an enthralling top of the table clash but it was Celtic who struck first through Lustig.  Five minutes before the break, the ball was laid back for the Swedish defender and Lewis was left helpless after his shot deflected off Kari Arnason and into the back of the net.

    As the home side upped the tempo following the start of the second half, Dembele nearly benefited from a wonderful Stuart Armstrong run, but the striker’s shot across goal flashed beyond the far post. Ntcham also came close moments later when his drive from outside the box flew narrowly wide.

    The Hoops had moved up a gear following the restart, and Armstrong almost scored his second goal in four days when Sinclair supplied him up, but his half-volley flew over, before Tierney burst through and tested Lewis at his near post.

    The hard-working Dembele then had two chance to score when Lewis smothered his low effort, before the Frenchman curled over after rounding Lewis and receiving a return pass from Sinclair.

    Celtic strengthened their grip on the game when Hayes’ diligent work-rate and attacking intent paid off midway through the second half as he doubled the lead. Sinclair cut the ball back, before the ball rebounded favourably for the Irishman, who tucked the ball away.

    Ntcham put the game to bed six minutes later. Intercepting Kenny McLean’s poor back-pass, the Celtic midfielder stole the ball, rounded Lewis and rolled the ball into the net.

    Celtic were unrelenting in their pursuit of more goals, and Dembele was unable to convert an excellent chance after Tierney picked out the French striker with a perfect cross but the header was straight at Lewis.

    A fourth goal almost came near the end as Odsonne Edouard’s shot was deflected behind, but it had been a fantastic afternoon for the six-in-a-row champions, who moved another step closer to meeting Brendan Rodgers’ target of finishing 2017 with a double-figure points advantage at the league summit.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham, Armstrong; Hayes (McGregor 75), Sinclair (Forrest 69), Dembele (Edouard 80)

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Griffiths

    ABERDEEN (4-1-4-1) Lewis; Ball, O’Connor, Arnason, Consie; Reynolds; Stewart (Ross 84), McLean, Shinnie, Mackay-Steven (Harvie 88), Rooney (Maynard 66)

    Not Used: Rogers, Wright, McKenna, Campbell



    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, December 20, 2017

    CELTIC…2

    (Armstrong 35, Tierney 68)

    PARTICK THISTLE…0

    STUART Armstrong’s Christmas cracker helped Celtic record a comfortable Glasgow derby victory over Partick Thistle and deliver further festive cheer in the form of a five-point lead at the top of the Premiership table.

    The 25-year-old’s thunderous drive into the top corner 10 minutes before the break put the Hoops in charge in Paradise. After Brendan Rodgers’ side had passed up further chances to add their tally in the second period, Kieran Tierney’s ferocious finish sealed a return to winning ways for the Bhoys following their first loss in over 18 months at Hearts on Sunday.

    Odsonne Edouard led the line for the Bhoys in one of three changes to the team that lost to Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday. There was also a slight reshuffle in defence and midfield, with Kristoffer Ajer and Armstrong recalled.

    And it was Armstrong who provided the early forward thrusts for the hosts, with one driving run into the box from the midfielder ending with a powerful low cross that had no takers. A foul on the Scotland internationalist then gave the Hoops a free-kick on the left. Armstrong took the set-piece himself and Ajer rose highest but was unable to direct his header on target.

    As the champions continued to probe for openings, Tierney had a shot saved from distance, before the Jags fashioned their first sight of goal in the 18th minute, when Jordan Turnbull headed a corner on target but Scott Brown was on hand to make the clearance.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Scott Sinclair had a dangerous cutback intercepted and Lustig sent a half-volley over as the game remained deadlocked. Just beyond the half-hour, a superb raking pass from Craig Gordon gave Sinclair his first sight of goal and the winger’s fizzing shot from 25 yards wasn’t far away.

    It had been a frustrating opening to the contest for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but the opening goal was worth waiting for. Tierney fed the onrushing Armstrong and he unleashed an unstoppable left-footed strike into the top corner.

    That injected further impetus into the home side’s attacks and they immediately looked more menacing as they entered the final third, and another long-range Armstrong drive forced Tomas Cerny into a low stop.

    At half-time, new signing Marvin Compper was given a rousing reception as he told the Hoops faithful of his pride at becoming a Bhoy following his move from RB Leipzig.

    Celtic continued to dominate possession in the early stages of the second half. Tierney tried his luck twice and Armstrong had a free-kick blocked by the wall after Edouard had been sent tumbling by Daniel Devine.

    Armstrong’s purposeful play came close to doubling the Hoops’ lead, the former Dundee United man evading his marker and sending in a dangerous delivery which was only as cleared as far as Edouard, whose attempt was smartly saved by Cerny.

    Moments later, Edouard threatened again when he connected with Sinclair’s cross but Cerny was equal to it. The pressure paid off midway through the half as Tierney collected Sinclair’s return pass in the box and powered a rasping shot high into the net.

    And the Celtic fans remained on their feet, not only paying their traditional tribute to the Lisbon Lions in the 67th minute, but bursting into song two minutes later to salute the team’s record-breaking 69-match domestic unbeaten run which came to an end last weekend.

    Teenager Mikey Johnston entered the fray from the bench and soon made his presence felt, slipping a ball into Edouard, and his drilled cross was almost turned into his own net by Devine.

    Leigh Griffiths was also introduced in place of Edouard. His first touch was a pinpoint corner which Boyata bulleted goalwards but it was straight at Cerny. Looking eager to make an impact, Griffiths also had a near-post effort pushed away by Cerny following Brown’s pass.

    In the closing stages, Johnston displayed his nimble footwork and confidence with several piercing runs as the Bhoys bounced back and cemented their position at the league summit ahead of Saturday’s top-of-the-table tussle with Aberdeen.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 62), Edouard (Griffiths 79), Sinclair (Johnston 71)

    Subs: Hazard, Dembele, Ntcham, Sviatchenko

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-2-3-1) Cerny; McGinn, Keown, Devine, Turnbull; Edwards, Barton; Spittal (Fraser 73), McCarthy (Erskine 58), Lawless; Storey (Doolan 64)

    Not Used: Scully, Nitriansky, Sammon, Nisbet


    Hearts-vs-Celtic-Prediction-and-Tips


    Scottish Premiership

    Tynecastle, Edinburgh

    Sunday, December 17, 2017

    HEARTS…4

    (Cochrane 26, Lafferty 34, Milinkovic 47, 75)

    CELTIC…0

    CELTIC’S incredible 69-game domestic unbeaten run came to an end today as the six-in-a-row champions tasted defeat for the first time in a year-and-a-half with a 4-0 away loss to Hearts.An organised and aggressive Hearts side frustrated the Hoops as the record-breaking run finally came to a conclusion in the capital.

    Goals from Harry Cochrane and Kyle Lafferty gave Hearts a two-goal lead going into half-time. David Milinkovic then scored early in the second half before bagging his brace from the penalty spot.It was a disappointing result for the Scottish treble-winners but the Celtic support stayed until the final whistle to salute Brendan Rodgers and his players for their tremendous consistency over the past 18 months, and the team will be determined to bounce back in Wednesday’s night’s Glasgow derby against Partick Thistle.

    The manager had made four changes to the side which beat Hamilton 3-1 at Paradise in midweek with Griffiths replacing Odsonne Edouard up front. The Scotland internationalist was supported by Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair in attack, with James Forrest and Kieran Tierney out on the wings. Olivier Ntcham paired up with captain Scott Brown in the centre of midfield in front of a back-three of Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata.

    The home side made a positive start and showed aggression in the opening stages as they pressed Celtic high up the pitch. This presented opportunities for the Hoops on the counter attack which Ntcham took advantage of early on. The French midfielder collected the ball deep inside Celtic’s half and broke forward before threading a wonderful pass through to Sinclair. Connor Randall’s well- timed sliding tackle inside the box was enough to stop the Celtic winger getting his shot off though.

    Hearts then gave Celtic a scare when Lafferty controlled a ball over the top of the defence with his chest and broke free, however, the linesman had flagged him offside. The hosts came close to grabbing a goal from a set piece when Christophe Berra’s glancing at the near post flashed past Craig Gordon’s goal.

    Celtic continued to open up Hearts on the counter attack and Forrest created a couple of golden opportunities for Griffiths. The Scotland striker slipped at the crucial moment for the first chance and hit the side netting with his shot moments later, after peeling away from his marker on the edge of the area.

    Hearts’ high pressing game paid off in the 26th minute. Don Cowie won the ball deep inside the Celtic half before working the ball to Harry Cochrane on the edge of the penalty box. The 16-year-old controlled the ball and quickly fired off a low shot into the bottom corner to give Craig Levein’s side the lead.

    Craig Gordon made a wonderful to deny Milinkovic from close range but Hearts found the back of the net for a second time with ten minutes remaining in the half. Milinkovic received the ball on the halfway line and slipped the ball out to Lafferty who was wide open on the right. The striker lashed in a low shot from the edge of the area to double Hearts’ advantage.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes at half time, with Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong coming on for Kieran Tierney and Olivier Ntcham. Celtic showed more attacking intent at the start of the second half, particularly Forrest who troubled the opposition with direct runs and crosses into the box.

    The Hoops were dealt another blow early in the second half when a defensive error gifted Milinkovic a goal. Gordon rushed off his line to try and thwart the danger but Milinkovic was well positioned to round the Hoops keeper and slot beyond a covering Lustig.

    Celtic piled the pressure on Hearts as they went in search of a way back into the game and flooded Jon McLaughlin’s goalmouth with a steady stream of attacks. Griffiths forced a wonderful save from the Hearts keeper when he cut inside and fired a rocket of a shot from 20 yards.

    As the Bhoys continued to pour forward, Sinclair caused problems with his pace and trickery but he uncharacteristically fired over from inside the box after doing well to open up space inside the box. Moments later he almost set up Griffiths but his final ball across goal was just beyond his team-mate.

    Instead, it was the hosts who found the net. Ross Callachan won a penalty in the 75th minute after Gordon’s outstretched arm brought him down in the box and Milinkovic converted from the spot kick.Hearts defended deep for the remainder of the half and made life difficult for the Hoops. Dembele was unable to test McLaughlin from his half volley inside the area and Edouard fired wide of the far post with his own half volley.

    Griffiths almost grabbed a consolation goal in the dying minutes when he ran across goal and let off a shot which was straight at the McLaughlin. Sinclair, similarly, came close after cutting inside and unleashing a right- footed shot but Berra blocked the effort inside a crowded Hearts’ box.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata; Forrest, Ntcham (Armstrong 45), Brown, Tierney (Dembele 45); McGregor (Edouard 67), Sinclair; Griffiths

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Hayes, Kouassi

    HEARTS (4-5-1) McLaughlin; Brandon, Buaben (McDonald 67), Berra, Smith; Cochrane, Callachan (Grzelak 84), Cowie, Randall, Milinkovic; Lafferty (Stockton 71)

    Not Used: Hamilton, Hughes, Keena, Goncalves


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday 13 December, 2017

    CELTIC…3

    (Ntcham 11, Forrest 40, Sinclair 41)

    HAMILTON…1

    (Redmond 28)

    A DOMINANT Celtic cemented their place at the top of the Premiership with a convincing 3-1 win over Hamilton Accies. The champions subjected their opponents to wave after wave of attack as they returned to winning ways following last weekend’s draw away to Hibernian.

    Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the team that were held to a 2-2 at Easter Road for the second meeting between Hamilton and Celtic this season.

    Kristoffer Ajer, Nir Bitton and Stuart Armstrong came into the starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney who all started the bench.

    French teenager Odsonne Edouard, who scored a hat-trick in Celtic’s recent 5-1 win over Motherwell at Paradise, led the attack against the team he scored his debut goal against back in September. He was supported by wingers James Forrest and Scott Sinclair.

    Celtic played with a real sense of urgency and aggression in attack as they started the game with a high tempo which the visitors had no answer for.

    Gary Woods was busy from the off as Nir Bitton tested the Hamilton keeper with a shot from distance which he managed to palm away. Stuart Armstrong quickly followed up with a curling 25-yard effort which went over the crossbar, before a well worked corner saw Olivier Ntcham’s shot come close to opening the scoring.

    The French midfielder took his next chance though, putting his team ahead with a wonderful finish just after the 10-minute mark. Scott Sinclair dribbled his way into the Hamilton penalty area and lofted an inch perfect pass across goal which Ntcham volleyed home from close range.

    He almost scored another technically brilliant goal midway through the half when his half-volley from outside the box forced great save out of Woods.

    Celtic dominated possession and looked to be in complete control, however, Hamilton snatched an equaliser with their first shot on goal when Danny Redmond’s shot from the edge of the area found the far top corner.

    Martin Canning’s team then looked to frustrate Celtic after drawing level by sitting deeper in an attempt to stifle Celtic’s attack, but the champions restored their lead towards the end of the half. Armstrong threaded a great ball through the visitors’ defence for Forrest, who rounded Woods and tucked the ball in to secure his sixth league goal of the season.

    Scott Sinclair scored his third goal in two games just one minute later. Forrest fired a low ball into the box for his fellow winger. Sinclair controlled the ball well and the Hamilton defence stood off him, allowing him the time to pick out the top corner.

    The second half saw the Hoops winger continue to torment Hamilton down the left wing, helped by some wonderful passing from Callum McGregor, who weaved a string of precise balls into the box for his team-mates.

    McGregor looked at ease in the left full-back position and showed impressive vision to continually pierce the Hamilton backline with sharp passing.

    Edouard had a couple of opportunities to add his name to the scoresheet early in the second half. His first chance was scrambled away after a heavy first touch inside the box. Scott Brown created the second opportunity with a perfectly-weighted pass through the Hamilton defence but Woods was off his line in a flash to prevent Edouard getting a shot off.

    The Invincibles maintained their relentless attacking football with wave after wave of attack. Armstrong replicated his earlier effort with a curling shot from distance which shaved the outside of the post.

    Despite seeing very little possession, Hamilton still fashioned a couple of opportunities in the second half. Rakish Bingham fired wide from close range after getting on the end of a cut-back from his team-mate and then he hit the inside of the post after fastening onto Jozo Simunovic’s short back-pass.

    Leigh Griffiths replaced Edouard with just over 20 minutes remaining, and the 27-year-old looked lively in attack, coming close to extending Celtic’s lead multiple times in the in the closing stages. First, Woods steered his shot round the post and, moments later, Massimo Donati stabbed the ball away from him inside the box. His 90th minute effort from the edge of the area also went narrowly over.

    Having returned to winning ways, Celtic now sit four clear at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand, with their domestic unbeaten run now standing at 69 games. Preparations will now begin for their fifth game in December when they travel to Tynecastle on Sunday to face Craig Levein’s Hearts.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Ajer, Bitton, Boyata (Simunovic 72), McGregor; Brown, Ntcham; Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 78), Sinclair; Edouard (Griffiths 67)

    Not Used: De Vries, Dembele, Lustig, Tierney

    HAMILTON (4-5-1) Woods; McMann, Tomas, Gillespie (Skondras 49), Gogic; Imrie, Docherty, Redmond (Lyon 78), MacKinnon, Donati, Bingham (Cunningham 83)

    Not Used: Fulton, Templeton, Ferguson, Sarris



    P

    Scottish Premiership

    Easter Road, Edinburgh

    Sunday December 12, 2017

    HIBERNIAN…2

    (Ambrose 76, Shaw 79)

    CELTIC…2

    (Sinclair 59, 63)

    SCOTT Sinclair returned to goalscoring action with a brace as Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 68 games in an exhilarating 2-2 draw against Hibernian at Easter Road. Two second half goals from Sinclair gave Celtic a 2-0 lead but Hibernian fought their way back into the game with goals from Efe Ambrose and Oli Shaw.

    Celtic wasted little time in looking for an opening goal and it almost came in the first few minutes when Ntcham played a brilliant ball over the top for McGregor. Lewis Stevenson tracked back and made a last-gasp tackle just as McGregor was about to pull the trigger.

    The home side struggled to deal with Celtic’s own high-pressing game and were fortunate not to find themselves trailing after some defensive errors. Ntcham intercepted a loose ball by Efe Ambrose and rolled it into Sinclair but the winger was flagged offside inside the penalty area.

    Dylan McGeouch then gifted James Forrest a glorious opportunity midway through the half when his pass across goal was snatched by the Hoops winger. Forrest was one-on-one with Ofir Marciano but he uncharacteristically dragged his shot wide of the post.

    Craig Gordon had little to do but was excellent when called upon. John McGinn produced a fine ball over the Celtic defence and right into the path of Martin Boyle who saw his shot saved by the legs of Gordon.

    As the half progressed Hibs sat in and Celtic’s dominance in possession grew. Celtic passed the ball really well but the clear cut goal scoring opportunities were limited. Mikael Lustig came within inches of breaking the deadlock shortly before the break when Forrest teed up the defender on the edge of the area but the Swede curled his effort beyond the far post.

    Early in the second half Tierney issued a warning to the hosts when he came on to his right foot and let off an ambitious shot from distance. He was kept busy with his defensive duties too as Martin Boyle tested him with his pace.

    Scott Sinclair gave Neil Lennon’s side a scare when he managed to get away from Whittaker inside the box and broke free. Marciano reacted quickly, though, and rushed off his line to smothered the shot and keep the score goalless.

    He could do little to deny Sinclair moments later when the winger touched home the rebound from Odsonne Edouard’s shot which came back off the post, and Sinclair was first to react when he side footed in from close range.

    The Englishman appeared to grow in confidence following the goal and doubled his tally four minutes later when he fired in Celtic’s second of the afternoon. McGregor fed in his team-mate out on the left and Sinclair cut inside. He opened up space for himself before firing a low shot which deflected of Bartley and past a hapless Marciano.

    The invincibles looked determined to kill off the game and began to find more openings in the final third with some tightknit passing but Celtic were unable to find enough space in a packed Hibs area. Ntcham came close with a dangerous looking effort from distance and Sinclair was denied his hat-trick when his flashing shot found the far corner, only to be scrapped by the linesman’s flag.

    Neil Lennon’s side were handed a lifeline back into the game when McGinn worked his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Whittaker. The shot was blocked by Tierney but it fell invitingly to Ambrose whose shot deflected off Lustig and into the Celtic goal.

    Celtic responded immediately and substitute Moussa Dembele broke away from Ambrose before letting off a shot from a tight angle that was saved.

    Hibernian the took their chances and substitute Oli Shaw levelled the scoring just a few minutes later. The young striker showed great composure and strength to turn and get his shot away and over Gordon.

    It was an enthralling and frantic end to the game with great chances from both sides in the closing stages. Boyata almost headed in from a Stuart Armstrong free-kick in the 90th minute and Lustig made a goal-line clearance from Shaw in injury-time to preserve Celtic’s unbeaten run.

    NSinclair blasted the ball over the crossbar right at the death and game was drawn to a conclusion. The win sees Celtic move five points clear at the top of the Premiership with a game in hand.

    CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 85); Forrest (Hayes, 80) Sinclair; Edouard (Dembele 71)

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Bitton, Griffiths

    HIBERNIAN (4-3-2-1) Marciano; Whittaker (McGregor 81), Ambrose, Hanlon, Stevenson; Boyle, Bartley (Shaw 71), Barker (Slivka 81), McGinn, McGeouch, Stokes


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, December 2, 2017

    CELTIC…5

    (Edouard 16, 33, 84, Forrest 76, 88)

    MOTHERWELL…1

    (Frear 65)

    ODSONNE Edouard bagged his first senior hat-trick as Celtic swept aside Motherwell 5-1 to stretch their domestic unbeaten run to a magnificent 67 matches.

    The Steelmen had held the Hoops to a draw on Wednesday night but there never looked like being a repeat of that as the Hoops dominated from start to finish in the third meeting of the side in seven days.

    Edouard and Jonny Hayes came in to make their starts in over a month as Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the team that drew with the Fir Park side on Wednesday night. Along with Edouard and Hayes, Kristofer Ajer, Olivier Ntcham, Tom Rogic and Scott Sinclair, who scored the late leveller from the penalty spot in Lanarkshire, also came into the team.

    Despite the changes in personnel, Celtic were straight into their stride, moving the ball around with pace and purpose and launching several early promising attacks, with Edouard unfortunate not to fasten on to Sinclair’s through ball, before Kieran Tierney was taken out by goalkeeper Scott Carson as he attempted to connect with a loose ball in the box, the referee, Kevin Clancy, adjusting that no infringement had been committed.

    Hayes had been lively in the early stages, having a shot blocked and causing opposite number, Charles Dunne, problems with his direct running, and it was from his inviting cross to the back post that Richard Tait almost headed into his own net. From the resultant corner, Ntcham’s rasping drive was charged down.

    Motherwell managed to break the siege in the 12th minute to muster their first attempt on goal when Chris Cadden shot narrowly over from distance but the Hoops broke through in their next attack.

    Ntcham’s precise pass picked out Sinclair’s run into the box and the winger’s cutback was met by Edouard, who applied the finish to a wonderfully-worked goal. Celtic’s dominance continued unabated, and Hayes wasn’t far away with a curling effort after cutting in from the right.

    And the visitors’ task could have become even more difficult had the referee had deemed Louis Moult’s elbow to the face of Scott Brown a deliberate act, which would have resulted in a red card. Instead, he decided it was an accidental collision, much to the frustration of the Celtic captain, who required treatment on the touchline.

    There was no stopping Brendan Rodgers’ side, however, as they deservedly doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark. Rogic was the architect, supplying Edouard with a clever pass, and the young Frenchman did the rest, finding the far corner from 18 yards with an accurate finish.

    It looked as though the Hoops would go with a three-goal lead at the interval when Rogic capped off another flowing move, sweeping beyond Carson from Ntcham’s pass. But after a long delay, and with the hosts heading back to the halfway line for the restart, referee Clancy consulted with his linesman, who hadn’t raised his flag, and ruled out the goal.

    Stephen Robinson’s side made two changes at the break to try and stem the tide but it had no effect as Celtic remained in complete control, with Edouard coming close to claiming his treble early in the second half, heading inches wide from Sinclair’s cross.

    The one-way traffic continued as Lustig forced Carson into action with a stinging volley and Tierney blasted wide after Ntcham’s free-kick had been shovelled away by Carson.

    It seemed a matter of how many the Hoops would score but in their first meaningful attack of the match, Motherwell reduced arrears as substitute Elliot Frear slid in to convert Tait’s cross.

    James Forrest and Callum McGregor were introduced midway through the half, and Forrest was quickly to the fore, teeing up Rogic with a great chance to restore the two-goal advantage, but the Australian internationalist lashed over from the edge of the box.

    The next time Forrest collected the ball on the right, he took matters into his own hands and sealed the victory. After controlling Tierney’s raking cross-field pass, he cut inside onto his left foot and his measured finish beat Carson.

    Forrest could have had a quick-fire double after Gordon instigated another lightening counter-attack, but Carson made a superb save to deny the winger. The keeper would still have to pick the ball out of his net twice more before the final whistle, however, as the Hoops finished with a flourish.

    First, Edouard got his treble after capitalising on Tait’s weak header back to Carson, and then, Forrest underlined his confidence with another accurate strike into the far corner – his 10th goal of the season.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ajer, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham (McGregor 68), Brown; Hayes (Forrest 68), Rogic, Sinclair (Armstrong 77); Edouard

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Griffiths, Kouassi

    MOTHERWELL (4-1-2-1-2) Carson; Tait, Cipre, Hartley, Dunne; Campbell; Cadden (Frear 46), Rose; Tanner (McHugh 46); Moult (Petravicius 58), Bowman

    Not Used: Griffiths, Grimshaw, Brigirimana, Plummer

    Scottish Premiership

    Fir Park, Motherwell

    Wednesday November 29, 2017

    MOTHERWELL…1

    (Lustig OG 78)

    CELTIC…1

    (Sinclair 88)

    SCOTT Sinclair was the Celtic goal hero at Fir Park, scoring the equaliser in a thrilling 1-1 draw against Motherwell. The champions dominated the game and were unfortunate to not have come away with all three points as they extended their unbeaten domestic run to 66 games.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side which defeated Motherwell in Sunday’s League Cup final at Hampden, with Leigh Griffiths replacing the injured Moussa Dembele up front and Scott Sinclair making way for Patrick Roberts who started out on the right, with James Forrest switching to the left wing.

    Motherwell started the game in a similar fashion to Sunday’s match as they pressed Celtic high up the pitch and tried to pressure Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic in defence. Celtic remained composed in possession, however, and began to create openings down the flanks early, with Kieran Tierney and James Forrest linking up well.

    Out on the opposite wing Roberts picked up an injury just 10 minutes in and had to be replaced by Tom Rogic.Griffiths initiated Celtic’s first chance with a shot from the edge of the area which was deflected out for a corner. Callum McGregor was causing the home side problems with well-timed runs and quick footwork.

    Midway through the first half he received the ball on the edge of the box and created enough space to get a shot off. Trevor Carson was equal to it and McGregor fizzed the rebound just wide of the far post.

    Rogic tested Carson next when he got on the end of Forrest’s cut back on the edge of the penalty area, only to send his effort over the crossbar. Forrest then had a chance of his own when he burst into the area from the left and created a yard of space allowing him to shot, but Richard Tait slid in to block the effort.

    Tierney was inches away from breaking the deadlock just before the break but Carson pulled off a wonder save to deny him just a couple of yards from the goal-line.

    Celtic immediately stepped things up a gear with the start of the second half as they went in search of a goal. A burst of pace from Tierney resulted in a wonderful cross along the six-yard box. Griffiths’ collected the ball but his shot was blocked as was Forrest’s follow-up

    Motherwell maintained their energetic pressing but Celtic remained composed in possession and were take advantage of the home side’s high line by catching them on the counter-attack.

    Rogic initiated one such attack early in the second half when he darted away with the ball alongside Forrest and McGregor in support. Forrest cut inside and fed the ball to McGregor whose low shot was heading for the back of the net if not for a brilliant save from Carson.

    Moments later McGregor skipped past two Motherwell defenders inside the box and flashed a low shot inches wide of the far post.

    However, the home side struck lucky with 12 minutes remaining when Mikael Lustig deflected a Craig Tanner free-kick into the back of the Celtic net.

    Fortune continued to favour Motherwell when Rogic’s strike from outside the area rebounded off the inside of the post and into the arms of a grateful Carson. However, Motherwell’s luck ran out with two minutes remaining. McGregor’s effort was saved by Carson but the Hoops midfielder was brought down by Andy Rose in the box.

    Substitute Scott Sinclair stepped up to take the spot-kick amidst a chorus of booing from the home support and coolly tucked the ball into the top corner.

    CELTIC: (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig (Edouard 80), Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong (Sinclair 73); Roberts, Forrest; Griffiths

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Sviatchenko, Ntcham, Rogic,

    MOTHERWELL: (5-4-1) Carson; Cadden, Kipre, Hartley, Dunne, Tait; McHugh (Bowman 76), Campbell, Petravicius (Rose 45), Frear (Tanner 66); Moult

    Not Used: Griffiths, Grimshaw, Bigirimana,

    Cup Final

    Sunday, November 26, 2017

    Hampden

    CELTIC… 2

    (Forrest 49, Dembele 59pen)

    MOTHERWELL… 0

    BRENDAN Rodgers made more Celtic history at Hampden today when he became the first Celtic manager to win his first four consecutive domestic trophies.Having secured the treble last season, the Irishman’s Invincibles kept hold of the League Cup with a 2-0 victory over Motherwell courtesy of goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele.

    In the process, the Hoops also extended the unbeaten run to an incredible 65 games.

    It was Motherwell who got the final underway but, not surprisingly, it was Celtic who immediately took the game to their opponents, forcing the first corner of the game after six minutes, though Motherwell dealt comfortably with the set-piece delivery from Callum McGregor.

    It was a half of few chances, and only a couple of real contentious moments. A crude challenge by Cedric Kipre on Moussa Dembele on the edge of the Motherwell area went unpunished, though three minutes later, the Celtic striker was yellow-carded for a similar challenge.

    Celtic were using the width of the Hampden pitch, trying to stretch a Motherwell side who put every outfield player behind the ball whenever they lost possession, with Forest always looking a threat down the right flank.

    But apart from a Dembele header on the half-hour mark, Celtic didn’t really trouble Trevor Carson in the Motherwell goal. Craig Gordon was similarly untroubled, with a 30-yard free-kick from captain, Carl McHugh, Motherwell’s only real chance in a first-half most notable for the applause tribute to former Celtic and Motherwell midfielder, Phil O’Donnell in the 10th minute.

    The first goal at Hampden was always going to be crucial and that breakthrough came for the cup holders just four minutes into the second-half. Callum McGregor collected a pass on the edge of the Motherwell area and slid the ball to James Forrest who cut on to his left-foot and curled a precise shot beyond Carson’s despairing dive.

    The game immediately began to open up and Motherwell almost equalised four minutes later, but Louis Moult’s header from six yards out was stopped by a world-class save from Craig Gordon.

    McHugh became the first Motherwell player booked before Moussa Dembele was inches wide with a header from a McGregor corner.

    The task for Motherwell, already difficult, became near enough insurmountable just before the hour mark when Celtic won a penalty, with Cedric Kipre red-carded for the challenge on Scott Sinclair.

    Dembele, whose pass had found Sinclair inside the area, coolly stepped up and converted the spot-kick to make it 2-0, for his second penalty in consecutive League Cup finals.

    With a two-goal lead and a numerical advantage, Celtic swept forward at every opportunity and Stuart Armstrong was twice denied in quick succession by Carson in the Motherwell goal, who dealt well with both shots from just outside the area.

    McGregor, always effective in the Celtic midfield, was next to try his luck, but his shot from 19 yards out was wide of the target.Forrest, outstanding throughout the match, produced a dazzling piece of dribbling in the middle of the park before he was upended by Allan Campbell on the edge of the box, the Motherwell substitute earning a yellow card.

    And from the subsequent free-kick, Leigh Griffiths, on as a substitute for Dembele, fired a powerful low shot which Carson pushed away.

    Griffiths should have scored with 10 minutes remaining after McGregor slid a pass through the middle for the striker to latch on to, but his shot crashed off the post before Motherwell cleared the danger. And the Celtic No.9 came close with a header on 87 minutes.

    Armstrong and Roberts then combined well inside the area, with the former firing a shot across the six-yard box which took a deflection off a Motherwell defender before being saved by Carson. And Roberts, who was causing constant problems down the right since his introduction, shot inches over from just inside the area.

    The last chance of the game for Celtic came from the left foot of Tom Rogic, also on as a late substitute, whose shot from the edge of the area was saved by Carson before Motherwell hit the post from a Moult free-kick right on the final whistle.

    The League Cup final victory over Motherwell at Hampden is Celtic’s 17th triumph in the competition, and the first time they’ve retained the trophy in 16 years. The Celtic supporters, who filled two-thirds of Hampden, celebrated another trophy success under Brendan Rodgers in the knowledge that the double-treble remains on the cards for the Hoops.

    CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown: McGregor (Rogic 88), Armstrong, Forrest (Roberts 77), Dembele (Griffiths 63), Sinclair.

    Subs: De Vries, Rogic, Ntcham, Sviatchenko, Ajer.

    MOTHERWELL: Carson, Tait, Grimshaw (Tanner 50), Hartley, Cadden, McHugh, Moult, Bowman (Campbell 63), Rose (Frear 70), Dunne, Kipre.

    Subs: Griffiths, Hammell, Fisher, Petravicius,

    sport-preview-opta-psg-v-celtic


    UEFA Champions League

    Group B, Match Day Five

    Parc des Princes, Paris

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN…7

    (Neymar 8, 21, Cavani 27, 78, Mbappe 34, Veratti 75, Alves 79)

    CELTIC…1

    (Dembele 1)

    CELTIC were the first team to score against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League but the accolade proved to be in vain as the French side’s clinical finishing saw them finish the game with a six-goal advantage, winning 7-1 in the Parc des Princes.

    Moussa Dembele handed Celtic a shock lead inside the first minute but goals from PSG’s world-class front three as well as contributions from Dani Alves and Marco Verratti ensured a comfortable win for the home side.

    Celtic won a corner inside the first minute and Olivier Ntcham fired a low ball across the PSG box for Moussa Dembele, whose shot went beyond Alphonse Areola in the PSG goal for the opener. And the Hoops maintained their grip on the game with high-pressing and sharp passing which prevented the home side from settling into their stride.

    A glimmer of individual quality from the £200million Brazilian forward, Neymar levelled the scoring just seven minutes later. And he added a second in the 21st minutes to give the home side the lead, both goals slotted in at the far post. The 25-year-old then turned provider minutes later when he headed the ball back across goal for Edinson Cavani to cushion it into the back of the net.

    While Celtic continued to try and play their own game whenever they had possession, it was PSG who scored again before the break through Kylian Mbappe. And only a Craig Gordon save denied the 18-year-old his second of the night.

    The Hoops started the second half in attacking fashion and wasted no time in creating a chance when Kieran Tierney swung a great ball into the box for Dembele but the PSG defence cleared the danger.

    The home side continued to look a threat going forward though Celtic dealt well with the attacking threat. However, three goals in the space of six minutes gave PSG a margin of victory which was cruel to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

    Cavani with his second of the night made it 5-1 before Dani Alves and Marco Verratti scored in quick succession. It was another tough night for the Hoops against the French side, but Celtic know that European football remains within their grasp as they look forward to a home match against Anderlecht early next month.

    The immediate focus, however, must now turn to the League Cup final on Sunday where Celtic will face Motherwell at Hampden.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig (Bitton 12), Boyata, Simunovic; Tierney, Ntcham (Kouassi 68) Brown, Forrest; McGregor, Rogic; Dembele (Griffiths 75)

    Not Used: De Vries , Armstrong, Roberts, Sinclair

    PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (4-3-3) Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Veratti (Lo Celso 75), Rabiot, Draxler (Pastore 65), Mbappe (Di Maria 75), Neymar, Cavani

    Not Used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Meunier, Berchiche


    IMG_1767


    Scottish Premiership

    Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall

    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Attendance – 6,590

    ROSS COUNTY…0

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 77)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ sublime free-kick ensured Celtic left the Highlands with all three points to remain top of the Premiership. A well-organised Ross County gave the champions a difficult afternoon but they could not prevent the Brenden Rodgers’ side from extending their domestic unbeaten run to 64 games.

    Kieran Tierney became a century Bhoy with his 100th appearance in the Hoops. The 20-year-old, who recently captained Scotland for the first time, is one of the youngest Celts to have reached the landmark. Moussa Dembele, who scored a hat-trick with the French Under-21 side earlier in the week, led the Celtic attack as Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged starting XI from the side which beat St Johnstone 4-0 two weeks ago.

    Ross County pressed Celtic high up the pitch in the opening stages and threatened the Hoops when David Keillor-Dunn threaded a great ball through to Michael Gardyne. There was too much pace on the pass for the forward, though, and Craig Gordon rushed off his line to pounce on the ball.

    The pair had another crack at goal 10 minutes later when Gardyne cut out Nir Bitton’s pass and found Dunn in space at the edge of the box. He tried to curl the ball into the far top corner but his first-time effort went high over the crossbar.

    Despite the home side having a couple of ambitious efforts early on, Celtic dominated possession and looked comfortable and patient in the build-up as they assessed the best way to break through the opposition defence.

    McGregor was amongst the liveliest Celts and troubled the Ross County defence with quick footwork and dangerous passes into the box from the wide areas. Midway through the first half the Scotland midfielder weaved his way into the Stags’ penalty area, skipping past Christopher Routis’ tackle but captain Andrew Davis brought him down just before he could pull the trigger with a challenge which merited a penalty.

    Tierney provided a good opportunity for Dembele with a long, looping pass over the Ross County defence but McCarey was quick off his line and used his body to clear the danger just outside his box.

    Gardyne could do nothing to prevent Tierney powering past him out on the left and the Hoops full-back brushed past him on two occasions. Tierney’s cutbacks into a packed penalty area were scrambled clear and the half ended goal-less.

    Mikael Lustig almost changed that within two minutes of the restart when he came within inches of scoring from a set-piece. The Swedish defender ran across the box and attempted to redirect McGregor’s outswinging corner into the top corner with the outside of his foot but the ball flashed just wide of McCarey’s near post.

    Celtic had started the second half on the front foot and wasted little time in creating further opportunities with McGregor continuing to be the instigator. He drove at the home side’s defence and fed the ball out to Dembele who cut inside and looked for the far corner but his shot was held by the keeper.

    Celtic’s opportunities were limited by Ross County who defended well and frustrated the champions. Brenden Rodgers brought on Leigh Griffiths and Jonny Hayes midway through the second half and the Hoops continued to grind out chances.

    The breakthrough came thanks to Griffiths. Celtic were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and Scotland internationalist clipped the ball over the wall and into the top corner.

    Olivier Ntcham replaced Dembele with just under 10 minutes remaining and the French midfielder almost doubled Celtic’s lead with a wonderful half volley from the edge of the box. The champions began to open up the home side more in the closing stages and Sinclair was unfortunate not to find himself on the score sheet when he sliced his shot from inside the box wide.

    Celtic now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League where they will face Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital on Wednesday (November 22).

    CELTIC: (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Tierney, Boyata, Bitton, Lustig; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 64), McGregor (Griffiths 64), Sinclair, Dembele (Ntcham 81)Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Kouassi, Edouard

    ROSS COUNTY (5-4-1) McCarey; Naismith, Fraser, Kelly, Gardyne, Davies; Keillor-Dunn (Dow 86), Routis, Draper, O’Brien (Mikkelsen 81), Curran (Schalk 61)

    Not Used: Munro, Chow, Mikkelsen, McKay, Van Der Weg


    UEFA Champions League

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    CELTIC…1

    (McGregor 74)

    BAYERN MUNICH…2

    (Coman 22, Javi Martinez 77)

    DESPITE a tremendous performance, full of bravery, aggression and no little style, Celtic ended a pulsating UEFA Champions League encounter with Bayern Munich with no reward, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat in Paradise.

    The Hoops impressed in the first-half but they trailed at the interval after Kingsley Coman capitalised on the home side’s failure to deal with Sven Ulreich’s long clearance But Callum McGregor deservedly levelled for the Hoops with 16 minutes left on the clock, finding the net after excellent work from James Forrest, who ran the away side ragged all night with a wonderful display of wing-wizardry.

    That set up a grandstand finish but it was the Germans who grabbed the winner when Javi Martinez headed in Coman’s cross, an undeserved outcome for Brendan Rodgers’ side who will take huge heart from a mature and spirited showing that proved they could mix it with the best in Europe.

    Scott Brown was one of seven players restored to the side following Saturday’s draw with Kilmarnock, with Dedryck Boyata, Forrest, Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair, McGregor and Moussa Dembele also coming back into the team.

    On Hallowe’en, the home crowd served up their customary fearsome noise levels ahead of kick-off and the atmosphere soon reached red-hot levels in the Paradise caldron as the Hoops fashioned the first chance in the fifth minute.

    Tierney showed terrific tenacity to drive forward down the right and move the ball on to to Forrest. He darted into the box before picking out the onrushing Armstrong, who had ghosted in at the far post, but the Scotland internationalist was unable to steer his shot on target.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side, lining up with a back-three, were confident and purposeful in the opening exchanges, showing excellent composure on the ball as they enjoyed prolonged periods of possessions, despite the high pressing of the German side.

    When the Hoops attacked, they did so with real pace and intensity, with the explosive Forrest particularly prominent, and he caused problems again in the 13th minute after collecting Armstrong’s return pass and cutting the ball from the byline, but the ball was hooked clear by the visitors.

    Making his first UEFA Champions League start this season, Dembele looked hungry to make an impact and he did well to shrug off the attentions of Jerome Boateng and progress into the box, though he could only drag his final effort wide.

    Bayern had been restricted to speculative long-range attempts from Arturo Vidal and David Alaba, but they almost found a way through in the 20th minute when Alaba and Coman combined down the left, but Boyata was on hand to make a vital interception.

    Given Jupp Heynckes’ side had barely threatened, there was real frustration among the hosts when they took the lead after a defensive mix-up. From goalkeeper Ulreich’s long punt up the park, Coman broke clear and evaded Craig Gordon, who had raced from his goal, and the French internationalist picked his spot, despite the efforts of two backtracking Celtic defenders.

    Coman did appear to handle the ball in the build-up but Celtic’s appeals to the officials were in vain.  Undeterred by this setback, the Hoops stuck to their game-plan and only a last-ditch tackle from Alaba prevented them from restoring parity as Dembele prepared to apply the finish to Armstrong’s return pass, following another slick attacking move.

    Celtic continued to look threatening, forcing a series of corners and sending a number of dangerous deliveries into the box, with Lustig having a shot blocked from Armstrong’s free-kick – though Bayern did serve a warning towards the end of the half when Corentin Tolisso volleyed over.

    Continuing where they left off in the first-half, the Scottish treble-winners were quickly back on the front foot after the restart, and Ulreich had to make a superb one-handed save to deny Armstrong after another enterprising burst from Forrest.

    Nir Bitton also called Ulreich into action with a dipping free-kick, though this proved a more comfortable stop for the Bayern keeper. At the other end, Gordon saved from Alaba,

    Both teams were going toe-to-toe in an enthralling contest.

    James had a shot brilliantly blocked by Gordon and the outstanding Forrest had a shot deflected wide of the near post.As the Hoops faithful paid their traditional tribute to the Lisbon Lions in the 67th minute, their roars of encouragement galvanised the Celts into further offensive action and after good work from Tierney down the left, Forrest knocked the ball back into the mix, and it took a last-gasp tackle from Niklas Sule to thwart Dembele from connecting.

    Finally, their pressure paid off. Forrest, unsurprisingly was to the fore, thrusting at the heart of the Bayern backline and spotting the run for McGregor, who steered a shot under Ulreich, sending Celtic Park into raptures.

    Paradise was absolutely rocking in a wave of euphoria, but just three minutes later, the Bundesliga outfit ruthlessly restored their lead as Martinez headed home from Coman’s cross.

    Back came the Bhoys, and Dembele shot over on the half-volley from Tierney’s delivery and, although they applied some late pressure, Bayern held firm to claim the three points. But the applause at the final whistle said it all. This had been a Celtic performance to be proud of.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Bitton; Forrest, Brown, Armstrong (Griffiths 79), Tierney; Sinclair (Rogic 64), McGregor; Dembele

    Not Used: de Vries, Gamboa, Hayes, Ntcham, Ajer

    BAYERN MUNICH (4-2-3-1) Ulreich; Rafinha, Sule, Boateng, Alaba; Tolisso (Kimmich 83), Martinez; Robben (Thiago 90+3), Vidal (Rudy 59), Coman; James

    Not Used: Starke, Hummels, Friedl, Wintzheimer


    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, October 28, 2017

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 43)

    KILMARNOCK…1

    (Jones 60)

    CELTIC equalled their 100-year unbeaten record today as they made it a remarkable 62 domestic games without defeat, despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Kilmarnock in Paradise. It was Willie Maley’s legendary side who had set that magnificent milestone back in 1917 after they beat Hibernian 1-0 at Easter Road.

    For a century it has stood alone as a Scottish and British record but, fittingly, another Celtic team has now matched it, and Brendan Rodgers’ side will have the opportunity to eclipse it next weekend when they take on St Johnstone in Perth.

    Leigh Griffiths’ first-half goal had the Scottish treble-winners on course for another three points after they had completely dominated the opening 45 minutes, but the visitors levelled through Jordan Jones on the hour-mark. And although the home side applied some late pressure, they were unable to fashion a later winner as the match ended in stalemate.

    With Celtic in the midst of a hectic fixture schedule, and Bayern Munich visiting Paradise in three days in the UEFA Champions League, Brendan Rodgers made six changes from the team that had dispatched Aberdeen in such superb style on Wednesday night at Pittodrie.

    Mikey Johnston was the most notable inclusion in the starting XI, reward for the 18-year-old’s impressive displays for the Development Squad in recent weeks, particularly in the UEFA Youth League.

    Kristoffer Ajer, Eboue Kouassi, Olivier Ntcham, Patrick Roberts and Griffiths also came into the side, with Dedryck Boyata, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong, Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Moussa Dembele making way.Despite the changes in personnel, Celtic were straight into their stride, and Griffiths headed narrowly over from Kieran Tierney’s pinpoint cross inside the opening two minutes.

    As the Hoops continued to pour forward in search of an early breakthrough, Tom Rogic curled wide, Tierney had a shot deflected into Jamie MacDonald’s hands, after being teed-up by Johnston, and Ntcham was also off target from distance.It was a case of attack versus defence as the visitors encamped across the edge of their own box, deploying every man behind the ball in an effort to stifle Brendan Rodgers’ side, who attempted to carve a route through the massed ranks of defenders with quick interchanges of passing and clever movement.

    At times they were successful in breaching, but they couldn’t add the finishing touch.

    Mikael Lustig sent over a half-volley and the lively Roberts also had a low effort by MacDonald, before Rogic and Roberts were crowded out in the box.And they were dealt a blow on the half-hour mark as Roberts, who had served up his usual flair and trickery, was forced from the fray holding his hamstring. He was replaced by Scott Sinclair.

    But just as it looked as it was going to be a frustrating first-half for the hosts, they broke the deadlock two minutes before the interval. Kouassi was the architect, threading a sublime pass through the Kilmarnock backline for Griffiths and he beat MacDonald with a composed first-time finish.

    Ntcham and Rogic tried their luck for the Celts after the restart but on the hour-mark, Steve Clarke’s side replied with their first meaningful attack of the match. Jones raced towards the box and saw his shot cannon off the post. Kilmarnock retrieved the loose ball and Jones was on hand to collect Rory McKenzie’s return pass and roll a shot under Craig Gordon.

    Stung back into action, Celtic replied when Griffiths flashed two inviting low balls across the six-yard box – but there were no takers. In the 70th minute, Kristoffer Ajer drove over after rampaging forward out of defence, the prelude to the introduction of Moussa Dembele in place of Johnston, who was warmly applauded by the home crowd for his efforts.

    In increasingly blustery conditions, Celtic continued to press in their search for a winner, with Rogic firing over and Dembele having a shot deflected into MacDonald’s arms. At the other end, Chris Burke saw his attempt from 20 yards saved by Gordon. Griffiths tested MacDonald from long-range, and the Bhoys had a number of corners and free-kicks as the clock ticked down, but they were unable to restore their advantage and had to settle for a point.

    CELTIC: (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Ajer, Tierney; Kouassi, Ntcham (Armstrong 61); Roberts (Sinclair 30), Rogic, Johnston (Dembele 72); Griffiths

    Not Used: De Vries, Boyata, Miller, McGregor

    KILMARNOCK (4-4-1-1) MacDonald; O’Donnell, Broadfoot, Greer, Findlay; McKenzie, Power, Taylor (Waters 90+2), Burke (Thomas 84); Jones; Erwin (Brophy 71)

    Not Used: Bell, Boyd, Boyd, Frizzel



    Scottish Premiership

    Pittodrie, Aberdeen

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017

    ABERDEEN…0

    CELTIC…3

    (Tierney 13, Dembele 38, 62)

    MOUSSA Dembele scored his fourth goal in two games as Celtic swaggered three points clear at the top of the Premiership with an exquisite 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie. The destruction of Aberdeen also extends the Hoops’ remarkable domestic unbeaten run to 61 games.

    Kieran Tierney opened the scoring early in the first half before Moussa Dembele added two more either side of half-time.

    Dembele, who helped secure Celtic’s place in the League Cup final with two goals in Saturday’s 4-2 win against Hibernian, started up front in place of Leigh Griffiths. The Frenchman’s inclusion in the XI was part of three changes to the side from the weekend with Patrick Roberts making way for James Forrest out on the right and Scott Sinclair being replaced by Tom Rogic. The Australian took up a central position behind Dembele with McGregor out on the left wing.

    The Hoops arrived in the Granite City high in confidence from their 60-game unbeaten run and bolstered by a strong record against the Dons which had seen them not fail to score at Pittodrie since the 2000/01 season.Celtic put the home side under pressure early on and quickly took control of the game in the midfield. A couple of early crosses into the Aberdeen box threatened the Dons but their defence was able to clear the danger.

    Graeme Shinnie tested Craig Gordon with two powerful shots from distance but the Hoops stopper comfortably held on to both efforts, and the Celtic keeper had a quiet night for the remainder of the game.

    The breakthrough for Brendan Rodgers’ side came on 12 minutes when Dembele turned Kari Arnason and had the pace to get away from the Dons defender. His pass across the six-yard box was just beyond Mcgregor but Kieran Tierney ran in at the back post and smashed the ball in off the underside of the crossbar with a wonderful finish.

    Tom Rogic, who had scored four goals in his last five games against Derek McInnes’ team prior to the game, look intent to continue his fine record as he ran at the home side’s back line and used his quick footwork to cut inside and trouble Lewis with a couple of curling efforts from outside the area.

    Celtic almost doubled their advantage midway through the half when Rogic was brought down on the edge of the box. Armstrong curled his free-kick around the wall but the ball went narrowly wide of the post.

    The Hoops continued to pepper Aberdeen goal as they moved up a gear in search of a second goal which came seven minutes from the break. Tierney knocked the ball round Shaleum Logan on the half-way line and burst down the left wing before firing a ball into the box which Dembele side-footed into the net.

    Celtic’s momentum ran into the second half as Armstrong took a turn of threatening the home team with a low driving shot from outside the box before tearing up the left wing moments later and delivering a near perfect cross which was inches beyond the head of Dembele.

    Shortly afterwards Armstrong threaded a perfectly-weighted pass in behind the Aberdeen defence for James Forrest who shot was saved by Lewis. The rebound rolled to Dembele whose shot was blocked by Arnason.

    The Hoops soon passed their way into a wonderful rhythm and Derek McInnes’ side could get nowhere near the ball, instead resorted to fouling the Celtic players as their frustration began to show.

    It would be to their detriment as Celtic extended their advantage in the 62nd minute. Dembele was on superb form and his power and pace caused problems for the Aberdeen centre-backs all night. A foul on the Frenchman by the touchline resulted in a free-kick which was whipped into the box and tucked away by Dembele after Dedryck Boyata’s header back across the six-yard box.

    Scott Sinclair replaced Rogic in midfield and ensured Celtic’s pressure never let up thanks to his pace and willingness to run at a demoralised Dons side. Jonny Hayes came on for Forrest and almost scored against his old side in the dying embers of the game when he came close to getting on the end of a great cross from Leigh Griffiths, who came on for Dembele.

    It was a perfect performance from the champions who dominated their closest rivals with a relentless tempo which Aberdeen had no answer for. Celtic’s complete control of possession throughout and attacking prowess illustrated why they are treble-winning invincibles and they showed no sign on relinquishing that crown based on tonight’s performance.

    Celtic now move three points clear at the top of the Premiership and will equal their 100-year-old unbeaten run if they can secure at least a point against Kilmarnock on Saturday (October 28) at Paradise.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes), McGregor, Rogic (Sinclair 72); Dembele (Griffiths 81).

    Not Used: De Vries, Roberts, Ajer, Ntcham

    ABERDEEN (4-1-4-1) Lewis; Logan, Arnason, McKenna, Shinnie; O’Connor; Mackay-Steven (Tansey 70), Considine, McLean, May (Maynard 77); Rooney (Wright 58).

    Not Used: Rogers, Reynolds, Stewart, BalL



    Betfred League Cup

    Semi-final

    Hampden Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, October 21, 2017

    CELTIC…4

    (Lustig 14, 41, Dembele 65, 87)

    HIBERNIAN…2

    (Stokes 60 pen, Shaw 70)

    CELTIC booked their place in the League Cup final thanks to two goals apiece from Mikael Lustig and Moussa Dembele as the cup holders defeated Hibernian 4-2 at Hampden. The win also now extends the Hoops’ unbeaten domestic run to 60 games.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that faced Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League in midweek as Mikael Lustig returned at right-back in place of Cristian Gamboa and Nir Bitton slotted into the centre of defence alongside Dedryck Boyata. The other change saw Callum McGregor in the starting XI alongside Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong in the centre of midfield.

    And it took Celtic less than 15 minutes to open the scoring at the National Stadium. The Hibs defence failed to clear Stuart Armstrong’s lofted ball into the Hibs area and Mikael Lustig pounced to side-foot the ball beyond Ross Laidlaw.

    Celtic had quickly found their rhythm and began to control the play as they moved up a gear in search of a second goal. They had a chance from a free-kick on the edge of the box after Callum McGregor had been fouled, but Leigh Griffiths’ effort was cleared.

    Then Lustig tried a curling effort from the edge of the box which was high and wide.But the Swedish defender was not to be denied a second goal, which arrived three minutes before the break. An out-swinging corner from Griffiths found Lustig in space at the back post and he was able to guide the ball beyond Laidlaw with his right foot.

    It was a comfortable first half for Celtic, who dominated possession and controlled the play with wave after wave of attack. Hibs were unable to pose a threat, with Celtic’s pressure making it impossible for them to support Anthony Stokes up front.

    The second-half continued in the same vein, with Brendan Rodgers’ side dominating possession and controlling the game, and there looked to be no way back for the Edinburgh side until the 60th minute when they were awarded a controversial penalty.

    Dedryck Boyata’s precise and well-timed challenge on Martin Boyle was adjudged by referee Kevin Clancy and his assistant to have been a penalty, much to the astonishment of the Celtic players and just about everyone else in the stadium. Anthony Stokes duly converted the spot-kick.

    However, Celtic quickly restored their two-goal advantage when Moussa Dembele, on as a substitute, converted from close-range. At that point, it looked as though the Hoops were home and dry but Neil Lennon’s side continued battling and got their reward when one of their subs, Oliver Shaw, reduced the deficit with a good finish inside the area.

    The remaining 20 minutes were played at a frantic pace as both teams pushed for more goals, with Celtic showing great resolve and reserves of energy following their midweek exertions against Bayern Munich.

    Dembele was denied another goal by Hibs keeper, Laidlaw, after being put through on goal in the 83rd minute, but with three minutes remaining, he did finish superbly to make it 4-2 and ensure the League Cup holders will return to the National Stadium at the end of November, looking to retain their trophy against the winners of the Motherwell versus Rangers semi-final.

    CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, McGregor, Armstrong (Rogic 73); Roberts (Forrest 60), Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 60).

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Gamboa, Ntcham,

    HIBERNIAN (4-4-1-1) Laidlaw; Gray (Whittaker 45), Hanlon, Stevenson, Ambrose; Bartley (Boyle 45), McGinn, Slivka (Shaw 69), Barker, McGeouch; Stokes.

    Not Used: Marciano, Swanson, S. Murray, PorteouS


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, September 30, 2017

    CELTIC…2

    (McGregor 15, 79)

    HIBERNIAN…2

    (McGinn 52, 76)

    CALLUM McGregor was the Hoops hero at Paradise after his two goals secured a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Hibernian, and extended the unbeaten domestic run to 58 games.

    However it was a tough match against a Hibs side who had their own two-goal hero in the shape of John McGinn, the midfielder netting twice to put the Edinburgh side in the lead following McGregor’s first-half opener.

    Brendan Rodgers tasked Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele with leading the attack as two young French strikers started their first game together since 19-year-old Edouard joined Celtic in the summer.

    Their inclusion was part of five changes made to the side which won 3-0 in Brussels against Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League last Wednesday night, with the three goalscorers, Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair all dropping to the bench, though the trio would all be called into action in the second-half.

    Neil Lennon’s side arrived at Paradise, having only lost one game this season, and they showed more attacking intent throughout the game than any other Scottish side who have visited Celtic Park since Brendan Rodgers’ arrival.

    The opening goal came after 15 minutes, and involved a great passing move from the Hoops. Kieran Tierney slid the ball down the inside-left channel for Moussa Dembele, who held it up well on the edge of the area before rolling it into the path of Callum McGregor. The midfielder took a touch before firing home an unstoppable left-foot shot into the Hibernian net.

    Tom Rogic then came close to doubling Celtic’s lead following some wonderful skill, but his effort with the outside of his left foot was well-saved by Hibs goalkeeper, Ross Laidlaw.

    Scott Sinclair was introduced at the start of the second-half for Edouard, but it was the visitors who grabbed an equaliser on 52 minutes when McGinn fired a powerful left-foot shot low into Craig Gordon’s left-hand corner from the edge of the penalty area.

    And Neil Lennon’s side could have taken the lead but for a world-class save from Gordon, denying Steven Whittaker from a couple of yards out with a breathtaking stop.

    However, Hibs were not to be denied, and McGinn grabbed his second of the afternoon with 14 minutes remaining when he fired home from the edge of the area.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side maintained their composure and drove forward in search of an equaliser. That came just three minutes later when the ball fell to McGregor inside the area and he coolly passed it into the net.

    The Hoops, roared on by a sell-out crowd, droved forward in search of a winner and Scott Sinclair had a good claim for a penalty when his jersey was tugged as he skipped past Efe Ambrose, but referee Willie Collum waved play on, much to the annoyance of the Celtic support.

    There was to be no further scoring, however, and Celtic go into the international break, still leading the Premiership and having extended their unbeaten domestic run to 58 games.

    CELTIC (3-1-4-2) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Tierney; Ntcham; Forrest (Roberts 69), Rogic, McGregor, Hayes; Edouard (Sinclair 45), Dembele (Griffiths 60).

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, E. Henderson

    HIBERNIAN (4-4-2) Laidlaw; Whittaker, Hanlon, Stevenson, Ambrose; Boyle Bartley, McGinn, Slivka (Barker 82), McGeouch; Stokes.

    Not Used: Dabrowski, Matulevicius, Swanson, S. Murray, F. Murray, Ryan Porteous



    UEFA Champions League

    Group B, Matchday Two

    Constant Vanden Stockstadion, Belgium Wednesday, September 27, 2017

    ANDERLECHT…0

    CELTIC…3

    (Griffiths 37, Roberts 49, Sinclair 90)

    CELTIC produced a magical European night in Brussels with a dominant performance over Anderlecht, beating the Belgian champions 3- 0 to take all three points thanks to goals from Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair.

    Griffiths opened the scoring late in the first- half before Roberts doubled Celtic’s lead just four minutes into the second-half. And Sinclair put the seal on a superb performance with a last-minute goal.

    The hosts could not cope with Celtic’s free- flowing, attacking football and struggled to contain threats from all areas of the pitch, and throughout the second-half, Brendan Rodgers’ side carved open their opponents, always looking likely to extend their lead.

    Olivier Ntcham returned to the Celtic starting XI in the only change to the team that dominated Saturday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox.

    The Frenchman, who scored in his last European away match for the Scottish treble- winners against FC Astana, replaced Stuart Armstrong in central midfield alongside captain Scott Brown.

    After an opening half-hour or so, when Celtic enjoyed controlled possession, while the home side were content to sit in defensively, it was Ntcham who helped create the opening goal. His precise pass through the inside-left channel found the overlapping Kieran Tierney, and his low cross to the far post was finished superbly by Leigh Griffiths.

    Anderlecht responded immediately, with their captain, Sofiane Hanni hitting a shot from the edge of the box which Craig Gordon saved comfortably. The home side went in search of an equaliser at the start of the second-half but were undone by Celtic’s high-pressing game.

    Patrick Roberts dispossessed Olivier Deschacht on the edge of his area, and then, cutting on to his left foot, fired in a shot which took a deflection off substitute Serigne Mbodji and ended up in the net to make it 2-0 for the Hoops.

    From that point on, Brendan Rodgers’ side controlled the game, showing a maturity in possession that has become a hallmark of the side.They had further chances to score, through Roberts, Griffiths and McGregor, while the Celtic defence dealt comfortably with any attacking threat from the home side. And Craig Gordon produced one superb save when a shot was fired on target, tipping the ball over the bar.

    Celtic got further reward for a dominant display in the final minute when Ntcham intercepted a forward pass and threaded the ball through to Scott Sinclair, who surged into the box before finishing with aplomb.

    The impressive victory – only Celtic’s second ever away win in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League – puts Brendan Rodgers’ side in a strong position in Group B ahead of a vital double-header against Bayern Munich as they aim to secure European football after Christmas.

    CELTIC (4-3-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown (Bitton 69), Ntcham, Rogic (McGregor 64); Sinclair, Roberts (Forrest 77); Griffiths.

    Not Used: De Vries, Hayes, Armstrong, Dembele

    ANDERLECHT (5-2-3) Boeckx; Chipciu, Spajic (Mbodji 43) Dendoncker, Deschacht (Stanciu 56), Appiah; Hanni, Gerkens, Trebel, Onyekuru, Teodorczyk.

    Not Used: Sels, Bruno, Beric, Sowah, Harbaoui



    Scottish Premiership

    Ibrox, Glasgow

    Saturday, September 23, 2017

    RANGERS…0

    CELTIC…2

    (Rogic 49, Griffiths 68)

    CELTIC reaffirmed their dominance in the Scottish Premiership as they completely outclassed city rivals Rangers on another memorable day at Ibrox.

    Second-half goals from Tom Rogic and Leigh Griffiths cemented the Hoops’ lead at the top of the table and extended their remarkable domestic unbeaten run to 57 games.

    Rogic opened the scoring shortly after the break before Griffiths doubled Celtic’s lead midway through the half.

    Celtic dictated the game from start to finish and their dominance was perhaps not reflected in just the two-goal cushion. They enjoyed the vast majority of possession and created numerous opportunities which kept the Rangers defence busy all afternoon.

    Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side that booked Celtic’s place in the League Cup semi-final in the midweek win over Dundee at Dens Park.

    Jozo Simunovic replaced Nir Bitton in defence as Celtic reverted to a back four, with Dedryck Boyaya in the centre and Kieran Tierney and Mikael Lustig taking up the full- back responsibilities.

    Olivier Ntcham and James Forrest made way for Stuart Armstrong, who started in the centre of midfield alongside Hoops captain Scott Brown.

    Rogic played behind Leigh Griffiths who led the Celtic attack, with Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair on the wings.

    Celtic piled the pressure on Rangers from the off, pressing the home side high up the pitch and subjecting them to wave after wave of attack throughout a first half in which Rangers saw little of the ball and were fortunate not to find themselves trailing.

    Celtic’s dominance was evident with all the Hoops forwards creating openings and ensuring goalkeeper Wes Foderingham was kept busy.

    Celtic started strongly and came close scoring within seconds of the kick-off. Rogic picked the ball up 30 yards and drove at the Rangers defence before letting off a shot from distance which flashed just over the crossbar.

    Roberts began causing problems for the home side early on and created a wonderful opportunity for Rogic just five minutes after the start. The tricky winger slipped an inch perfect pass through to Rogic inside the right- hand side of the box. He took the ball to the by-line and attempted to chip it beyond Foderingham at the near post but the keeper saved it.

    Griffiths looked disappointed not to have scored inside 10 minutes when his header at the back post from Kieran Tierney’s cross went over the crossbar.

    Rogic continued to ask questions of the Rangers defence as he linked up well with Roberts and Scott Sinclair in the Celtic attack. The Australian internationalist threaded a great pass through to Sinclair inside the box but his cutback was headed behind for a corner.

    Midway through the first-half, as the Hoops continued to boss proceedings, Griffiths almost opened the scoring when he latched on to headed clearance 35 yards out. The striker looked to curl the ball into the far corner from distance but Foderingham was able to save.

    Roberts’ nimble footwork then left Lee Hodson looking helpless in the 33rd minute as the winger danced past the Rangers defender inside the box, but he couldn’t find a way past the keeper from a tight angle.

    Armstrong joined Rogic in tormenting the home defence and was handed a golden opportunity when Rogic dinked a fantastic ball into the path of the Scotland internationalist, but he stumbled inside the box at the vital moment.

    Moments later Armstrong fired off a low shot from the edge of box which was stopped by Foderingham.Celtic started the second-half from where they left off and increased the intensity and frequency of the onslaught on the Rangers’ goal.

    Brown was instrumental in the Celtic midfield and that allowed Armstrong to push forward and join in on the attack.Within the first minute of the second period, Rogic found Sinclair inside the box with a great through ball. The winger picked out Griffiths who would have found the back of the net had his shot not been deflected out for a corner.

    It would take Brendan Rodgers’ side less than five minutes of the second half to break the deadlock, however. The Rangers defence struggled to clear a corner and Roberts’ effort broke to Rogic inside the box.

    The Australian was clinical in his finishing as he fired the ball past Foderingham and high into the roof of the net.Moments later and Sinclair himself almost scored after cutting inside and fizzling a shot just wide of Foderingham’s far post.

    Craig Gordon had little to do throughout the course of the afternoon but when the Scotland keeper was called into action around the hour-mark, he pulled off a sublime save, showing lightening quick reactions to keep out a close range header from Alfredo Morelos.

    Celtic’s dominance soon began to be reflected in the scoreline, as 15 minutes after Rogic had opened the scoring, Griffiths joined him by bagging his sixth goal of the season. The Scotland striker timed his run perfectly as he collected a superb through ball from Roberts just inside the Rangers box before firing a low shot beyond the keeper.

    Celtic never relented in their pursuit of another goal as Griffiths was denied by Hodson, while Simunovic headed over from a Griffiths corner.The Celtic striker was then replaced by Moussa Dembele shortly before the end, but Lustig, substitute James Forrest and Armstrong all ahd efforts in the closing stages, ensuring Foderingham had no respite with as the clock ticked down.

    The victory continues Celtic’s domestic unbeaten run to a remarakble 57 matches, and the Hoops will now turn their attention to European duties as Brendan Rodgers and his squad prepare for their second group B game in the UEFA Champions League this season when they travel to Belgium to face Anderlecht on Wednesday.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Rogic (McGregor 65), Roberts (Forrest 71), Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 83)

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Ntcham, Hayes

    RANGERS (4-5-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Cardoso, Hodson, McCrorie; Jack, Dorrans, Windass (Herrera 75), Pena (Miller 52), Candeias (Nemane 86); Morelos

    Not Used: Alnwick, Gomes, Holt, Wilson



    League Cup quarter-final

    Dens Park, Dundee

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    DUNDEE…0

    CELTIC…4

    (Sinclair 24, Forrest 42, 90+2, McGregor 87)

    CELTIC took a huge stride forward towards the defence of the League Cup after seeing off a dogged Dundee side 4-0 at Dens Park to progress to the semi-finals of the competition.

    The Hoops found the back of the net four times as Brendan Rodgers’ side extended their domestic unbeaten run to 56 games with a convincing and dominant performance.

    Scott Sinclair put Celtic ahead midway through the first half with a coolly converted penalty, before James Forrest doubled the lead with an instinctive finish just before half-time.

    Substitute Callum McGregor then grabbed a third moments from the end before Forrest scored again as the clock ticked down.Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side that beat Ross County 4-0 at Paradise on Saturday, with Dedryck Boyata coming in to make his first start of the season for Celtic.

    The Belgian internationalist had been absent since sustaining a knee injury in the pre-season friendly against Slavia Prague in early July, and he was stationed at the centre of a defensive back-three alongside Mikael Lustig and Nir Bitton.

    Kieran Tierney returned to the side after being rested at the weekend and took up a midfield position on the left, where he troubled the Dundee reaguard all night with his strength and pace down the flank.

    Patrick Roberts started in a more central midfield position with Forrest playing out wide on the right.

    Olivier Ntcham and Scott Sinclair also returned to the starting XI, which took to the field wearing black armbands in memory of former Celt, Paul Wilson, who passed away earlier in the week at the age of 66.

    Neil McCann’s side tried to contain Celtic during the first half but sustained wave after wave of attack from a composed and proficient Hoops team, who were able to exploit weaknesses both down the left and the centre of the Dundee defence.

    Ntcham almost put Celtic in front within the first few minutes after receiving the ball from Roberts on the edge of the box. With his back to goal the Frenchman spun round and fired off a low shot which flashed justify  wide of Bain’s left-hand post.

    Scott Brown had an outstanding game and he showed a great burst of pace in the 18th minute when A-Jay Leitch-Smith was through on goal and charging towards Craig Gordon’s box.

    The Celtic captain read the danger and was able to sprint back and make a crucial tackle before the Dundee forward pulled the trigger.Celtic got off the mark in the 24th minute thanks to a trademark Sinclair run. The forward’s explosive pace and nimble footwork saw him drive into the Dundee box, where he was brought down by Jack Hendry for a penalty.

    Sinclair then waited to see which direction Bain went before calmly placing the ball in the bottom right corner of the net.

    Ten minutes later and he almost helped Celtic double their lead. With space out on the left he skipped past a helpless Cammy Kerr and fired a dangerous low ball across the Dundee six-yard box – but there were no takers for the Bhoys.

    Dundee were most troubled down the left flank all night with Sinclair and Tierney linking up well and feeding some threatening crosses into the box. Such was the case three-minutes from half time when Tierney read Forrest’s run into the box and picked out the winger with a flashing cross, which Forrest slid in to score his fourth league goal of the season.

    In the second half Dundee stepped up their attempts to stifle Celtic’s attack, while Leigh Griffiths intensified his attempts to get on the scoresheet. The Scotland internationalist came close two minutes after the break when a drop of the shoulder created just enough space for him to fire off a powerful shot which was deflected out for a corner

    Boyata was replaced by 18-year-old Anthony Ralston after getting a valuable 67 minutes of action under his belt, which will go some way to helping the 26-year-old return to full match sharpness. Ralston slotted into right-back, with Lustig taking up the central position in defence.

    Five-minutes later McGregor came on for Roberts as Celtic went in search of a third and the substitute almost found the back of the net moments after coming on. Tierney and Sinclair continued to link-up well and the young full-back picked out McGregor on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked. Forrest then showed great control to collect the loose ball in the box but his half-volleyed attempt was saved by Bain.

    McGregor put the tie beyond any doubt in the 87th minute with a ruthless finish into the bottom corner. The substitute burst forward alongside Sinclair, who teed him up on the edge of the box with a great ball which McGregor then fired into the back of the net.

    Forrest then scored in added on time with a great shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner as the Hoops finished with a flourish. Having booked a date at Hampden in October, Celtic will now turn their attentions back to the Scottish Premiership where they will travel to Ibrox on Saturday (September 23) to face third-placed Rangers.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Ralston 67), Bitton; Forrest, Brown, Ntcham, Tierney; Roberts (McGregor 72), Sinclair; Griffiths (Edouard 84)

    Not Used: De Vries, Armstrong, Hayes, Rogic,

    DUNDEE (4-5-1) Bain; Kerr, Holt, O’Dea, Hendry; Leitch-Smith, Kamara, O’Hara, Wolters (Deacon 63) Spence (Megan cGowan 72), BakhtaouBb

    Not Used: Parish, Williams, Aurtenetxe, Waddell, Henvey


    UEFA Champions League

    Group B, Matchday One

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Tuesday, September 12, 2017

    CELTIC…0

    PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN…5

    (Neymar 19, Mbappe 34, Cavani 39, 85 Lustig 82)

    CELTIC found it very tough in their opening UEFA Champions League group-stage match against an impressive Paris Saint-Germain side, who scored five goals without reply at Celtic Park to take all three points.

    Neymar opened the scoring in the 19th minute after collecting a through pass and firing the ball beyond Crais Gordon. Striker Kylian Mbappe, on loan from Monaco, doubled the lead from close-range before Edinson Cavani converted a penalty to make it 3-0 at the break. Cavani scored again in the second-half after a Mikael Lustig own goal had put the French side four goals ahead.

    Brendan Rodgers made three changes to the side which had swept aside Hamilton in the Scottish Premiership last Friday night, with Anthony Ralston making his first European start for the Hoops. The 18-year-old slotted into right-back in a defensive four alongside Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Kieran Tierney. Striker Leigh Griffiths recovered from injury to lead the attack for Celtic.

    Both teams started the game in search of an early goal and Celtic’s first opportunity fell to Olivier Ntcham in the ninth minute. The Frenchman had a shot on goal from 25 yards out but his low drive went past the Areola’s right-hand post.

    However, it was Paris Saint-Germain who were enjoying the bulk of possession and looked dangerous whenever they surged forward. And it was their £200million striker, Neymar, who opened the scoring after 19 minutes.

    Celtic thought they should have been given a free-kick when Dani Alves fouled Scott Sinclair just inside the PSG half, but the Italian referee waved play on, and the French side hit on the counter-attack. The ball was threaded through to the Brazilian striker, who got ahead of the Celtic defence and raced into the box before lifting the ball over Craig Gordon and into the net.

    Celtic looked to respond, and following good play from Patrick Roberts, which earned his side a free-kick, Leigh Griffiths’ 35-yard effort was well-saved by Areola, who pushed the ball over for a corner.

    PSG doubled their lead in the 34th minute with Kylian Mbappe finding a way past Craig Gordon. Verratti’s cross from the right was headed back across goal by Neymar, and after Cavani had missed his shot completely, 18-year-old Mbappe was there to fire home.

    And things got worse for Celtic five minutes later when Jozo Simunovic was penalised for a challenge on Cavani inside the box. The Uruguayan striker converted the resulting penalty to make it 3-0 at half-time, despite a late Scott Sinclair in the half which brought out another good Areola save.

    With Tom Rogic on at the start of the second-half for Stuart Armstrong, Celtic started the second half on the front foot as they looked to find a way back into the game, with Scott Sinclair looking dangerous whenever he got on the ball.

    Anthony Ralston surged forward into the PSG area, but was eventually crowed out, while a Sinclair shot was blocked by Marquinhos at the edge of the area. PSG, meanwhile, continued to look dangerous when they attacked, and Neymar missed two chances to extend his side’s lead, while a Mbappe shot was blocked by Ralston inside the six-yard box.

    However, the French side made it 4-0 with eight minutes remaining when substitute Julian Draxler’s low driving ball across the Celtic six-yard box deflected in off Mikael Lustig. Two minutes later Cavani’s diving header at the far post looped beyond Gordon and into the back of the net for the fifth and final goal of a very tough opening UEFA Champions League group-stage game.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Armstrong (Rogic 45), Roberts (Forrest 77), Sinclair; Griffiths (Edouard 68).

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Ajer, McGregor,

    PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN (4-3-3) Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa; Veratti, Motta, Rabiot (Draxler 61); Mbappe (Lo Celso 83), Neymar, Cavani.

    Not Used: Trapp, Kimpembe, Lucas, Meunier, Berchic



    Scottish Premiership

    New Douglas Park, Hamilton

    Friday, September 8, 2017

    HAMILTON…1

    (Gogic 83)

    CELTIC…4

    (Armstrong 16, Sinclair 29, 42, Odsonne 65)

    NEW Bhoy Odsonne Edouard scored on his Celtic debut as the Hoops returned to the top of the Scottish Premiership table with a dominant 4-1 win away to Hamilton Accies.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side tormented the hosts all night as they cruised to a morale-boosting victory ahead of next Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain

    Stuart Armstrong opened the scoring after 16 minutes, showing some quick footwork to open up the Hamilton defence inside the box and place a wonder-strike into the far corner.

    Sinclair doubled Celtic’s lead just before the half-hour mark after a great run from Edouard allowed the winger to curl home a shot inside the box. He then grabbed his second of the night five minutes before half-time with one of his trademark runs which resulted in him tucking home from a rebound.French striker Edouard then opened his account with the Bhoys when he linked up brilliantly with Patrick Roberts to sneak the ball under a helpless Gary Woods in the Hamilton goal.

    Accies never had enough of the ball to ever threaten Celtic, but were able to grab a goal seven minutes from time after substitute Alex Gogic headed in from a corner.

    The Hoops returned to action following the international break in which the majority of the squad saw action. The busy schedule didn’t look to have left the Bhoys tired and, if anything, the break only served to make them hungrier for another three points and to extend their domestic unbeaten run, which now stands at 54 games.

    Brendan Rodgers made five changes to the side which drew with St Johnstone two weeks ago, and the travelling Celtic fans were delighted to see Roberts among the changes as the talented young winger started his first game for the Hoops since the Scottish Cup final following his return to the club from Manchester City on a season-long loan.

    Roberts looked as if he had never been away from the squad. Only five minutes into the game he collected the ball on the halfway line before glancing up and cutting open the Hamilton defence with a good pass through to Edouard who was through on goal. The Frenchman, however, was flagged offside.

    It would be a sign of things to come as the teenager looked hungry from the off as he troubled the Hamilton defence with his strength and pace.Moments later, and Roberts was at it again when he slipped the ball through to Sinclair in the box, but the linesman rescued Hamilton with the offside flag.Celtic came close to opening the scoring after just nine minutes when Hamilton failed to clear a James Forrest cross into the box. The ball fell to Sinclair who reacted quickly but his shot was straight at Woods.

    Woods was again called into action after Roberts’ lovely first touch out on the wing sent him clear on his way. His perfectly weighted pass across the edge of the box picked out McGregor whose low driving shot was deflected behind.However, Stuart Armstrong ensured that the away support fans would not have to wait much longer to celebrate a goal. The Scotland internationalist got Celtic off the mark in the 16th minute when he used some silky footwork on the edge of the box to create space for himself and pick out the bottom far corner with a deft finish.

    Hamilton could only manage to hold out for a further 13 minutes before Celtic doubled their lead. Jozo Suminovic left the Hamilton defence helpless with a piercing through ball to Edouard who timed his run perfectly. The young striker showed great strength and pace as he sprinted towards goal with the ball. Hamilton defender Scott McMann made a last ditch-tackle on the edge of the box, but Sinclair anticipated the loose ball and curled a low shot into the back of the net.

    Roberts almost found the back of the net himself five minutes before half-time when the Hamilton defence crowded round Sinclair in an attempt to stifle the another attack. Roberts took advantage of the space with a well-timed run into the box but, having been found by Sinclair, his attempt to find the far corner was blocked and went out for a corner.

    Sinclair was far from finished tormenting the Hamilton defence and, three minutes from the break, he gave Celtic a comfortable lead. After collecting the ball 40 yards out, he utilised his pace and tricky footwork with another dash into the Hamilton box. McMann’s tackle resulted in the ball hitting the post and Sinclair was first to react to the rebound as he fired in from close range.

    Celtic ended the second half three goals up and exuded an energy and fluency that showed their desire to retain the top spot in the table. Roberts and Sinclair looked threatening throughout and the Celtic defence was only busy with attempted assists.

    The Hoops started the second half as dominantly as they had finished the first. Hamilton could not get the ball off Celtic and struggled to shut out the attack from the wings and through the middle.

    Having scored a brace, Sinclair looked sure to clinch a hat-trick with his constant forays into the box. His closest opportunity to grab a third goal came in the 60th minute when Kieran Tierney lifted a sublime long ball over the Hamilton defence to Sinclair, who was through on goal and unlucky to see his chipped shot land on the roof of the net.

    The Hamilton net would only lie empty for a further five minutes though as new Bhoy Edouard rounded off the scoring. He latched onto a stray pass 40 yards out, shrugged off a tackle and accelerated at the Hamilton defence before playing a lovely one-two with Roberts and slipping the ball under Woods.

    Odsonne came close to scoring his second of the night after a well-timed run allowed him to receive the ball from Sinclair, fashion a yard of space and fire off a shot which was blocked.AAs the clock ticked down, Hamilton sub Gogic scored from a corner to provide some consolation to Martin Canning’s team.The three points ensured Celtic take to the league summit, before the weekend round of league fixtures, and the convincing performance will leave Hoops fans confident that their team are fully prepared for the arrival of PSG in the Champions League on Tuesday.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic (Bitton 75), Tierney; Brown, Armstrong (Ntcham 67), Forrest, McGregor; Roberts (Hayes 67), Sinclair; Edouard.

    Not Used: De Vries, Rogic, Ajer, Ralston

    HAMILTON (4-5-1) Woods; Skondras, McMann, Tomas, Imrie (Gogic 76); Docherty, Bingham (Longridge 11), Crawford, MacKinnon, Boyd (Templeton 79), Sarris

    Not Used: Jamieson, Biabi, Donati, Lion



    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, August 26, 2017

    CELTIC…1

    (McGregor 79)

    St Johnstone…1

    (MacLean 39)

    CALLUM McGregor ensured that Celtic extended their unbeaten domestic run to 53 games after coming off the bench to fire home an equaliser against a combative St Johnstone side. And Brendan Rodgers’ side were unfortunate not to come away with all three points, having enjoyed the bulk of possession and chances in the 90 minutes.

    The Hoops had largely dominated the first-half in terms of possession, and Leigh Griffiths, James Forrest and Mikael Lustig all came close to putting the Hoops ahead. However, it was the visitors who took the lead close to half-time after a mistake at the back allowed Steven MacLean to tuck the ball past Craig Gordon from close-range.

    And while Celtic attacked relentlessly throughout the second-half, it took until the 79th minute before McGregor levelled with a precise right-foot shot from just inside the box.

    Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side which secured Celtic’s place in the UEFA Champions League group stages in midweek for the top of the table clash with St Johnstone. Anthony Ralston started at right-back as Mikael Lustig replaced Kristoffer Ajer in the centre of defence, while Tom Rogic returned to the starting line-up in place of Callum McGregor.

    The match was halted within the first minute and play held up for six minutes after Murray Davidson sustained a head injury after clashing heads with team-mate Aaron Comrie on the edge of the Celtic box.

    And after lengthy treatment, he had to be stretchered off, to be replaced by Liam CraigCeltic’s first opportunity came in the 10th minute when Tom Rogic collected the ball in midfield, skipped past Paul Paton and played the ball out to Forrest on the right. His cutback found Leigh Griffiths who made space with a great first touch, but his shot hit the side-netting.

    Lustig came close to putting the Hoops ahead in the 18th minute when Griffiths’ free kick from the edge of the box picked out the Swedish defender at the back post, only for his header to direct the ball just over the crossbar.

    Forrest’s was next to test Mannus in the St Johnstone goal after 21 minutes. Brown ran across the edge of the box and set up Forrest, who had enough space on the edge of the box to shoot. He directed his shot towards the left-hand corner but Mannus got down to it.

    And Griffiths also came close to scoring 10 minutes before half-time after Kieran Tierney played a perfectly-weighted pass in behind the St Johnston defence, but the striker’s shot was blocked on the corner of the six-yard box.

    St Johnstone were then gifted a goal in the 39th minute after Craig Gordon’s pass out from the back fell to substitute Liam Craig. His pass found Steven McLean inside the box, and the St Johnstone striker took a touch, turned and tucked the ball away.

    Scott Sinclair almost levelled the scoring on the stroke of half-time, dribbling his way into the box, but Mannus dealt well with the shot.Brendan Rodgers made two changes at half-time, with Jonny Hayes coming on for Forrest on the right and Stuart Armstrong replacing Olivier Ntcham.

    And the Hoops created a plethora of opportunities early in the second half as Sinclair and Rogic persistently troubled the St Johnstone defence with darting runs and some creative dribbling.

    Rogic’s attempt to equalise early in the second half came in the form of a powerful effort from around 25 yards that brushed past the right-hand post, but a late challenge on him by Paul Paton resulted in a free-kick which Leigh Griffiths couldn’t direct on target.

    Armstrong looked lively in attack and seven minutes after coming on, he created a great chance for himself, gliding past David Wotherspoon before firing a powerful shot which Mannus tipped over.

    St Johnstone’s goalscorer MacLean was lucky to escape a straight red card in the 72nd minute after appearing to throw a punch at Kieran Tierney. Referee, Willie Collum, only issued a yellow card, much to the disbelief of just about everyone inside Celtic Park.

    But Celtic finally got the goal their effort deserved when Callum McGregor, on as a substitute for Anthony Ralston as the Hoops went to a back three, curled a low shot into the bottom right corner.

    Celtic pressed forward in search of the winner and were denied by a combination of Alan Mannus in the St Johnstone goal and the woodwork, with Sinclair, Hayes and Lustig all coming close. But the visitors held out for the point, while the Hoops extended their unbeaten domestic run to 53 games.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston (McGregor 60), Lustig, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Hayes 45); Forrest (Armstrong 45), Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths.

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Simunovic, Benyu

    ST JOHNSTONE (5-4-1) Mannus; Foster, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Easton, Comrie; Wotherspoon (Tanser76), Davidson (Craig 7), Paton, O’Halloran (Johnstone 81); MacLean.

    Not Used: Clark, Scougall, Gilchrist, Cummins



    Scottish Premiership

    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    KILMARNOCK…0

    CELTIC…2

    (Forrest 39, McGregor 87)

    GOALS from James Forrest and Callum McGregor ensured Celtic extended their undefeated domestic run to 52 games away to Kilmarnock after two moments of magic from Tom Rogic created golden opportunities for the pair to score.

    Forrest, who was again tasked with leading the Hoops attack, converted from close range in the 39th minute after Rogic’s quick footwork inside the box saw him weave through the Kilmarnock defence and cut the ball back for him to score.

    Celtic had to overcome a stubborn Kilmarnock defence at Rugby Park, but the Hoops dominated possession and Rogic’s creative flair came to light again when he set McGregor up in the 83rd minute for the second of the afternoon and to seal another three points for the Scottish treble-winners.

    Brendan Rodgers made six changes to the side that dominated Astana 5-0 in the UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg in midweek with Forrest taking over the striking duties from Leigh Griffiths.

    The manager fielded the same back four that defeated Kilmarnock in the League Cup 5-0 last week, and they were rarely challenged by a Killie side that had little possession and failed to present an attacking challenge for Celtic.

    The Hoops produced some impressive play in attack, particularly from the lively Calvin Miller, who caused trouble for Stephen O’Donnell all afternoon. The 19-year-old made some darting runs down the left and delivered numerous dangerous crosses into the box.

    And he came close to scoring himself in the second half after a neat one-two with Forrest inside the box allowed him to get a shot away However, his effort was saved by Jamie MacDonald.

    Miller’s inclusion meant Kieran Tierney moved into centre-back to rekindle his defence partnership with KristofferAjer. The pair were solid in defence and looked vastly more experienced than their years would suggest.

    James Forrest had his first shot of the game five minutes in when he cut inside on the edge of the box and tried to curl his effort into the bottom left corner, however his attempt went wide off the far post.

    Rogic’s creativity began to seriously trouble Kilmarnock towards the later end of the first half. In the 29th minute the Australian fired a long ball to Miller out on the right who then laid off Armstrong, whose attempted cut-back from the by-line was blocked for a corner.

    In the 37th minute Miller delivered a great ball into the back post which Anthony Ralston controlled well before knocking it back across goal, but the opportunity was cleared away by the Kilmarnock defence.

    Then, six minutes before half-time, Yogic produced one of his trademark moments of magic to help open the scoring.

    The midfielder ran at the Kilmarnock defence inside the left-hand side of the box, beating Greg Taylor and taking the ball to the by-line before cutting it back across goal for Forrest to arrive and drive a low shot past a helpless MacDonald.

    Celtic came close to doubling the lead three minutes later when Benyu’s pass to Miller on the left saw the 19 year-old fire a dangerous pass across the six-yard box, but no-one was there to convert.

    The momentum from the first-half continued into the second when Ralston’s pass in the 47th minute found Forrest inside the box.

    After dancing past the Kilmarnock defence, Forrest found enough room to get a rocket of a shot off, but it went narrowly wide of the top right corner.

    Midway through the second-half Kieran Tierney found himself in a similar position to the one where he scored a spectacular goal against Kilmarnock in the League Cup.

    The 20-year-old pushed up from central defence and let off a powerful shot from distance which, thankfully for MacDonald, was directed straight at him.One minute later Miller linked up well with Forrest inside the box with a quick one-two, allowing him to get a shot in, but pressure from the Kilmarnock defence allowed MacDonald to get down to the shot and prevent another goal.

    But another goal seemed inevitable, given pressure which Celtic continued to pile on and Rogic helped put the game beyond any doubt with just three minutes left.

    He picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and began dribbling towards goal before slipping a perfectly weighted through ball to McGregor inside the box who then calmly placed it past the keeper and into the bottom left.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Ajer, Tierney (Bitton 69), Miller; Brown, Armstrong; McGregor, Rogic, Benyu (Lustig 78); Forrest (Griffiths 69).

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Lustig, Henderson

    KILMARNOCK (5-5-1) MacDonald; Taylor, Smith (Brophy 59), O’Donnell, McKenzie, Thomas (Burke 74), Jones, Boyd, Greer, Wilson; Frizzell.

    Subs: Bell, Waters, Power, Boyd, Burke, Spencer, Brophy


    UEFA Champions League play-off first-leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    CELTIC…5

    (Postnikov o.g. 32, Sinclair 42, 60, Forrest 79, Griffiths 88)

    FC ASTANA…0

    CELTIC produced one of the greatest European performances ever seen in Paradise as they completely outclassed FC Astana in a stunning 5-0 victory to leave them within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League group stages.

    It was the perfect European display from Brendan Rodgers’ side as they balanced attacking verve alongside defensive diligence, controlled aggression and composure in possession – and a jubilant Celtic Park lapped it up as the Hoops took complete command of the play-off tie.

    After Tom Rogic’s wonderful run, Evgeni Postnikov’s own goal gave the Hoops a 1-0 lead and Scott Sinclair’s cool finish put the Scottish treble-winners in charge at the break.

    Sinclair bagged his brace and made it 3-0 on the hour mark, before James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths inflicted further punishment on the beleaguered visitors in the closing stages, leaving the Celts with an emphatic advantage ahead of next Tuesday’s second-leg in Kazkahstan.

    Having come on for the final 30 minutes of Celtic’s 1-0 win over Partick Thistle last Friday night, Griffiths had recovered from a calf problem to lead the line for the Celts.

    The inclusion of the Scotland internationalist was one of two changes to the team that saw off the Jags in last week’s Glasgow derby, with Rogic also coming into the starting XI. Callum McGregor and Jonny Hayes were the players to make way.

    A huge crowd had turned out to back the Bhoys in Paradise, generating the usual incredible atmosphere on these special European occasions, and they were soon on their feet as Brendan Rodgers’ side fashioned two decent early opportunities

    The first stemmed from Griffiths’ deadly dead-ball delivery.

    Following a foul on James Forrest on the right, the striker swung the set-piece into the mix and Sinclair was first to the loose ball but was unable to steer it on target.Forrest had started brightly and, after Rogic had fed him on the right, he whipped in an early cross.

    Griffiths met it perfectly but his header flashed inches wide, with goalkeeper Aleksandr Mokin rooted to his line.After that initial flurry of chances, the Hoops remained in control, probing for openings, while the visitors attempted to maintain compact.

    It took them until the 22nd minute for them to test Craig Gordon, but the Celtic No.1 was equal to Serikzhan Muzhikov’s dipping drive from distance.

    Celtic’s patience was finally rewarded just beyond the half-hour mark thanks to a moment of magic from Rogic. In almost a replica of his last-gasp winning goal in the Scottish Cup final, the Australian internationalist weaved his way into the box past several defenders, before lofting the ball over Mokin from an acute angle.

    The ball was drifting towards the far post but defender Evgeni Postnikov’s outstretched boot got the last touch as it spun into the net. Cue bedlam.

    Postnikov had an immediate chance to make amends as Astana immediately won a corner down the other end, but the big centre-half headed wide at the near post.

    Instead, it was the Hoops who doubled their lead as half-time approached. Rogic’s pass deflected into the path of Sinclair, who beat the offside trap and retained his composure to find the far corner, despite Mokin’s best efforts.

    As the second half got underway, Stanimir Stoilov’s side now had a greater onus to push forward in search of an away goal, which left greater gaps for Celtic to exploit on the counter, and Griffiths was narrowly flagged offside after being played in by Sinclair.

    In the 60th minute, they found another way through. Bitton’s lofted pass was flicked on by Rogic for Griffiths. He slipped a pass through for Sinclair, who had timed his run perfectly, and the winger, once again, made no mistake.

    Rogic had suffered a nasty clash of heads with Yuri Logvinenko in the build-up to the goal, which forced both players to leave the fray after several minutes of treatment, and the Celtic midfielder received a well-deserved rapturous reception as he departed after another crucial contribution on the big occasion, playing a part in all three goals. He was replaced by Callum McGregor.

    It could have been even better moments later for the Bhoys as Griffiths found himself through on goal from Tierney’s long ball over the top, but the hit-man was unable to control his finish, slicing wide amid torrential conditions.

    For all of Astana’s hustle and bustle, Celtic remained the more dangerous outfit, and the away side’s frustrations started to grow, with Tierney and Sinclair, in particular on the end of some reckless tackles.

    Their anguish continued with 11 minutes left on the clock as Brendan Rodgers’ clinically added to their tally. Griffiths superbly controlled a long ball and cleverly supplied the overlapping Forrest, who finished with aplomb from a narrow angle.

    Paradise was absolutely rocking, with Astana visibly deflated, and the noise levels were cranked up even more as Griffiths, incredibly, added number five in the closing stages, the 26-year-old slotting home via a deflection from the edge of the box, just reward for a magnificent performance in the lone striking role.

    The final whistle sparked more celebrations as Brendan Rodgers and his players took a well-earned bow after a truly outstanding showing on the biggest stage.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Bitton, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham; Forrest (Armstrong 82), Rogic (McGregor 63) Sinclair; Griffiths

    Not Used: De Vries, Benyu, Ajer, Ralston, Miller

    FC ASTANA (4-4-1-1) Mokin; Shitov, Postnikov, Logvinenko (Beysebekov 65), Shomko; Twumasi, Maevski, Kleinheisler, Tomasov (Murtazayev 77); Muzhikov (Grahovac 82), Kabanaga

    Not Used: Eric, Anicic, Tagybergen, Maliy.


    Scottish Premiership
Firhill,

    Glasgow
Friday, August 11, 2017

    CELTIC…1
(Ntcham 25)

    PARTICK THISTLE…0

    NEW Bhoy Olivier Ntcham ensured Celtic’s dominant display at Firhill resulted in three points after the Frenchman’s first-half volley sunk Partick Thistle.The midfielder showed terrific technique to lash home a ferocious strike in the 25th minute following a Hoops corner to open his account for the club.

    And although the Scottish treble-winners never added to their tally, they never looked in danger of losing their grip on the spoils as they extended their unbeaten domestic run to 51 matches.

    James Forrest led the attack for Celtic as the Invincibles looked to continue their impressive start to the season – one of eight changes to the team that swept Kilmarnock aside in the League Cup second round on Tuesday night.

    Celtic walked away with a 5-0 victory at Firhill in May last season and Brendan Rodgers’ side came into the game high in confidence, having put four goals past Hearts last weekend before going on to dominate the Rugby Park side earlier in the week.

    The Hoops piled on the pressure from the off, with Kieran Tierney looking hungry out on the left. Just minutes into the game the 20-year-old knocked the ball past Steven Lawless and fired a low cross into the box. Moments later, Tierney again found his way past Lawless out on the left and won a corner for the Hoops after his cross into the box was cleared.

    It would be a recurring theme for Thistle with Tierney’s pace and strength troubling them all night.The first clear cut chance came inside 10 minutes after Scott Sinclair picked up the ball outside the box and ran at the Thistle defence before laying off to Forrest, whose driving shot forced a save from Cerny.

    One minute later, and Partick Thistle’s Adam Barton slipped 40 yards out, allowing Ntcham to pounce on the loose ball and find Forrest just outside the box. His low drive from just inside the left-hand side of the box came close to opening the scoring but it rocketed past the wrong side of the far post and went out for a goal kick.

    The only time the Celtic defence was called into action was 20 minutes in, but Jozo Simunovic made a sliding tackle on the edge of the box to comfortably dispossess Ryan Edwards.Celtic quickly resumed the offensive as they won a free kick midway through half after McGregor was brought down just outside the box. It was taken by Bitton whose shot forced a save from the keeper.

    The Hoops broke the deadlock on 25 minutes, after Celtic’s corner was cleared only as far as Ntcham, whose volley from the edge of the box thundered into the centre of the goal under the keeper.

    Celtic continued to dominate proceedings for the remainder of the first half and more chances came. Midway through the first half Mikael Lustig picked out Scott Brown in the box but the captain’s looping header landed on top of the net.

    Jonny Hayes then came close after the Irishman collected the ball on the edge of the box before spinning round and firing off a shot which was saved.Early in the second half, Tierney came close to his second goal in two games afterhe disposed Lawless just inside the Thistle half and tore downthe wing, but his powerful attempt went inches past the far post.

    Griffiths came on for Hayes 16 minutes into the second half and wasted no time in posing a goal-scoring threat. After timing his run well, Griffiths received the ball from Rogic and drove down the right, coming close to picking out Rogic, but the Thistle defence cleared the cross for a corner.

    Simunovic almost doubled Celtic’s lead from a Griffiths corner 20 minutes before the end, but the defender’s header was cleared off the line. Shortly after, the defender galloped forwardand fired off a shot from outside the box which was deflected out for a corner.

    Rogic hit the side netting from a tight angle with 10 minutes left and right at the death, Griffiths’ placed shot from inside the box was blocked by Niall Keown and went behind for a corner as the Bhoys saw out the closing moments to claim the win, with attention now turning to next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off against FC Astana.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 78); Hayes (Griffiths 61), McGregor (Rogic 61), Sinclair; Forrest
Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Benyu,

    PARTICK THISTLE (4-5-1) Cerny; Elliot, Turnbull, Keown, Booth; Lawless (Erskine 64), Bannigan (McCarthy 82), Barton, Edwards, Sammon; Doolan (Storey 55)
Not Used: Scully, Nitriansky, Nisbet, Penrice, McCarthy



    League Cup second round

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Tuesday, August 8, 2017

    CELTIC…5

    (Griffiths 14 pen., 29, Ralston 21, Tierney 66, Armstrong 71)

    KILMARNOCK…0

    LEIGH Griffiths made it back-to-back doubles as Celtic ran riot against Kilmarnock in Paradise to book their place in the League Cup quarter-finals.

    The striker struck a double in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Hearts and his predatory instincts were on show again as he struck either side of Anthony Ralston’s first goal for the club, first from the penalty spot and then with a typically composed finish to put the Hoops in complete command at the interval.

    Kieran Tierney had donned the captain’s armband in the suspended Scott Brown’s absence to become one of the youngest-ever players to skipper the club. And he capped off a memorable night in his career with a truly magnificent goal midway through the second half, the 20-year-old thundering a drive into the top corner from fully 40 yards.

    Stuart Armstrong rounded off the scoring from the impressive Ralston’s delivery as Brendan Rodgers’ side made the perfect start to their League Cup defence.

    Kundai Benyu made his first competitive start for Celtic as the manager made a number of changes from the team that swept aside Hearts in the opening league match of the season. The 19-year-old, who had featured twice from the bench for the Bhoys since joining from Ipswich Town in the summer, started on the left of an attacking trident, operating behind lone striker Griffiths.

    Fellow teenagers Ralston, Kristoffer Ajer and Eboue Kouassi also came into the side, along with Armstrong, Tom Rogic and Jonny Hayes.  Despite all the alterations, the Hoops were swiftly into their stride, with Rogic and Hayes linking up well on the right and forcing a corner.

    Griffiths took the resultant set-piece and the onrushing Ajer was on course to connect with the cross until Lee Erwin’s interception.In the 13th minute, Celtic’s early pressure was rewarded with the opening goal. Fantastic foraging work from Hayes saw him rob Jordan Jones of possession and drive into the box.

    Attempting to atone for his error, the Kilmarnock winger felled Hayes and referee Alan Muir, after a few seconds deliberation, pointed to the spot.

    Up stepped Griffiths and he made no mistake, confidently tucking the ball into the corner.Maintaining their high intensity, Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to pour forward, and some nice interplay between Miller and Armstrong down the left saw the former pick out Griffiths, whose shot was blocked by Kirk Broadfoot.

    Griffiths then turned provider, whipping in a dangerous low delivery that Rogic was inches away from reaching in the middle.

    Number two soon arrived, however.

    Griffiths sent over a corner from the left and Ralston showed great desire to bullet home a header, an unforgettable moment for the boyhood Hoops fan and Celtic Youth Academy graduate.

    Still, the one-way traffic continued, with the Rugby Park side barely venturing out of their own half as Celtic’s high-tempo and furious pressing kept them firmly on the back-foot.

    After another sweeping passing move, Rogic played in Griffiths, who stung Jamie McDonald’s hands with a rasping drive. But the ever-dangerous Griffiths soon had the ball in the net as the rampant Celts made it 3-0. Tierney’s lofted pass found Griffiths, who had evaded the offside trap, in space and he raced in on goal before calmly slotting the ball past MacDonald.

    The hosts should have inflicted further punishment 10 minutes before the break when Griffiths seized upon an errant pass and darted into the box but, with Hayes in space in the middle, the hit-man tried to surprise MacDonald at his near post and the former Hearts keeper was equal to it.

    The only blot on the Bhoys’ copybook in a dominant first-half display was a serious-looking injury to Kouassi, which saw the midfielder stretchered down the tunnel six minutes prior to the interval. He was replaced by Olivier Ntcham.

    There looked no way back for Lee McCulloch’s side but Celtic were not content to see out the contest as they went in search for more goals after the restart.

    Following nimble footwork from Miller, MacDonald came to the visitors’ rescue with a wonderful low save from Armstrong’s curling effort. Armstrong looked keen to get on the act and he saw another shot charged down after a slick pass from Benyu.

    Then it was time for Tierney to take centre-stage and score an early contender for goal of the season. From fully 40 yards, the 20-year-old unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner. Celtic Park erupted to acclaim a truly sensational strike.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were far from finished, however, as Armstrong was rewarded for his persistence with number five. Ralston was the architect, overlapping down the right and supplying the midfielder at the far post and his cushioned volley found the net.

    Only some heroic goalkeeping from MacDonald and last-ditch defending denied Celtic adding to their tally as they maintained their supremacy until the final whistle.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Ajer, Tierney, Miller; Kouassi (Ntcham 39),Armstrong; Hayes, Rogic, Benyu (McGregor 70); Griffiths (Forrest 63)

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Sinclair, Lustig

    KILMARNOCK (4-5-1) MacDonald; Wilson (O’Donnell 58), Greer, Broadfoot, Taylor; Burke, McKenzie, Power, Frizzell, Jones (Graham 46); Erwin

    Not Used:  Bell, Boyd, Thomas, Waters, Samizadeh



    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, August 5, 2017

    CELTIC…4

    (Griffiths 29, 63, Sinclair 51, McGregor 73)

    HEARTS…1

    (Goncalves 84)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ brilliant brace helped an impressive Celtic put Hearts to the sword in Paradise to get their quest for seven-in-a-row off to a perfect start with a 4-1 victory.

    The striker’s cool finish had the Hoops in charge at the break after they had dominated the first half, and it was from his corner that Scott Sinclair doubled the advantage early in the second period.

    Griffiths headed in number three, before he was withdrawn to standing ovation, and Callum McGregor’s ferocious strike sealed the spoils.Substitute Isma Goncalves grabbed a late consolation for the visitors, but it couldn’t take the shine off a sparkling opening-day showing from Brendan Rodgers’ side, who are now unbeaten in 49 domestic matches.

    Griffiths led the line for the Hoops in one of three changes to the team that overcame Rosenborg 1-0 on Wednesday night to book the Bhoys’ spot in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.

    Olivier Ntcham and Nir Bitton also came into the side, with the Israeli internationalist continuing in central defence after his impressive performance in the role in Norway as a first-half substitute.

    The injured Erik Sviatchenko dropped out of the starting XI, along with Stuart Armstrong and Jonny Hayes, who were both named among the substitutes.

    Before the game, in recognition of his 10 years of sterling service to the club, captain Scott Brown unfurled the league flag to huge cheers as Paradise celebrated six-in-a-row.

    After the fanfare, the Hoops soon got down to business, making a brisk start to match, and creating two decent openings inside the opening four minutes.

    McGregor’s precise pass released James Forrest in the box and his cutback narrowly evaded the onrushing Sinclair.

    Moments later, Griffiths’ corner picked out the unmarked Bitton at the far post but he could only find the side-netting with his header.Jon Daly had taken interim charge of the visitors, following the departure of Ian Cathro earlier in the week, and their intentions were clear from kick-off as they deployed nine outfield players behind the ball, leaving Kyle Lafferty to plough a lone furrow up front.

    Aside from a weak shot from Arnaud Djoum that was easily smothered by Craig Gordon, the Tynecastle team offered little going forward and were preoccupied with defensive duties as Celtic probed for openings.

    Midway through the half, persistent play from Griffiths saw him evade the attentions of two defenders before stinging the palms of goalkeeper Jack Hamilton from an acute angle. McGregor reached the rebound but Christophe Berra’s last-ditch tackle denied the midfielder.

    Some typical tenacity from Brown created the Hoops’ next opportunity. The captain stole possession inside the Hearts half and supplied Sinclair, whose perfectly-weighted pass released Griffiths in the box, but the hit-man failed to hit the target.

    Eventually, just before the half-hour mark, the away side’s resistance was broken. Bitton sliced open the Hearts backline with a raking pass through the middle. Griffiths had timed his run to perfection and, although Hamilton managed to get his hands to the ball, the striker had the composure to apply the finish from the loose ball.

    Hungry for further reward, the Hoops came close to doubling their advantage through Gordon’s quick-thinking. Spotting Griffiths early run, the keeper quickly launched the ball forward. The Scotland internationalist was on to it in a flash, but Christophe Berra managed to scramble back to block his shot on the line.

    It was one-way traffic, and Forrest was thwarted by Hamilton from an acute angle after Hearts were unable to clear a Celtic corner, and Bitton also looked to have a strong penalty shout waved away when he was pulled back by Grzelak.

    On the stroke of half-time, a tremendous interchange of passing, with Griffiths, Brown and McGregor to the fore, ripped apart the increasingly beleaguered Hearts backline. McGregor, however, couldn’t deliver the finish to what would have been an early contender for goal of the season.

    The pattern continued after the restart, with Brendan Rodgers’ side bossing possession and maintaining their offensive. Goal number two soon arrived. After Hamilton had saved from McGregor’s drive from distance, Griffiths swung in the resultant corner and, when Berra misjudged the cross, Sinclair bundled the ball home at the far post

    McGregor, growing in prominence, tried his luck twice from long-range, and he was heavily involved in the move that saw Celtic add to their tally. Brown threaded a pass through to the midfielder in the box and he darted to the byline, before picking out Griffiths in the middle, who couldn’t miss from close-range.

    The champions were now in full flow and another sublime piece of play saw them inflict further punishment on the capital club. Receiving possession with his back to goal, Sinclair spun and left his man for dead. He found McGregor, who lashed an unstoppable half-volley into the roof of the net.

    Goncalves’ late goal was no more than mere consolation as the Celts cruised through the closing stages to claim their first three points of the season.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Bitton, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham (Armstrong 87); Forrest, McGregor (Rogic 75), Sinclair; Griffiths (Hayes 67)

    Not Used: De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Kouassi

    HEARTS (4-5-1) Hamilton; Smith, Hughes, Berra, Grzelak (Gonvalves 69); Brandon, Cowie, Bauben (Randall 62), Djoum, Moore; Lafferty (Sammon 71)

    Not Used: Noring, Souttar, Nowak, Martin⋅I’m



    UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round second-leg

    Lerkendal Stadion, Trondheim

    Wednesday, August 2, 2017

    ROSENBORG…0

    CELTIC…1

    (Forrest 69)

    Celtic win 1-0 on aggregate

    JAMES Forrest was the hero as Celtic booked their place in the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League tonight following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Rosenborg in Norway.With 21 minutes left on the clock, the winger’s ferocious angled strike finally broke the deadlock in the tie, with the first-leg in Paradise finishing 0-0, and from that moment, the outcome of the contest never looked in doubt as the Hoops comfortably saw out the closing stages.

    It was a courageous performance from Brendan Rodgers’ men who will now wait to see their pairing in the draw for the play-off which takes place on Friday.Erik Sviatchenko had handed the Bhoys a boost before kick-off by winning his fitness battle to take his place in the starting XI. He was one of three changes to the team that faced the Norwegians at Paradise last week, the Danish defender replacing Kristoffer Ajer, with Jonny Hayes and Callum McGregor also starting at the expense of Olivier Ntcham and Tom Rogic.

    There was a full house in the Lerkendal Stadium and the home support created a good atmosphere as proceedings got underway. And it was Rosenborg who threatened first with an early corner but Sviatchenko dealt well with the danger, though.Despite returning to Hoops line-up, the Dane was forced to be substituted in the 25th minute following a knock in the centre circle, with Nir Bitton slotting in the centre-half position as a result.

    Rosenborg’s Serbian winger Milan Jevtovic, on loan from Turkish side Antalyaspor, tested Gordon in the 15th minute, though his long-range strike was held comfortably by the Hoops stopper.With the game being played at a quick pace, it was the visitors who had the next effort ten minutes later. Kieran Tierney’s cut-back to James Forrest, who was leading the line for Celtic, forced Andre Hansen into a tremendous finger-tipped save.

    The Bhoys began to step up their play, dictating possession and looking to carve out openings. They nearly did that in the 34th minute but Johan Bjordal came to Rosenborg’s rescue, blocking Hayes’ angled drive.Chances began to grow for the visitors and Tierney was next to have a pop at goal – following some good play with Forrest, the left-back’s effort sailed over the bar.As the half drew to a close both Scott Brown and Nicklas Bendtner tested the goalkeepers at either end but Hansen and Gordon saved with ease.

    Rosenborg started the second-half stronger and came close to the opener in the 47th minute. Good link-up play between Bendtner and Yann-Erik De Lanlay had Gordon at full stretch but De Lanlay’s effort fell just wide of the right-hand post.As the game opened up, Tierney was next to come close to the game’s first goal. However, his effort on the break curled wide.The 57th minute saw the return of Leigh Griffiths following a spell on the sidelines. And the Scotland striker was involved in the action minutes later sending in a dangerous cross to Scott Sinclair but the winger couldn’t profit.

    At the other end, Celtic had a lucky escape after captain Mike Jensen’s low and powerful shot brushed the side-netting in the 61st minute.The Hoops’ patience paid off eight minutes later, though, as Rosenborg fell behind. The Scottish treble-winners strung together a series of passes before Forrest rattled a shot off the underside of crossbar and past Hansen to gift his side that vital away goal.

    That scoreline could have been doubled by Forrest in the 82nd minute but with only Hansen to beat the goalkeeper remained strong and the Rosenborg defence cleared.The away side came forward again, and following some delightful footwork from Rogic, Griffiths had his shot parried away. As the game reached its conclusion Celtic showed maturity and experience in defence and attack to see out the tie and deservedly head into the play-offs.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko (Bitton 25), Tierney; Brown, Armstrong (Rogic); Hayes (Griffiths 57), McGregor Sinclair; ForrestmNot Used: de Vries, Gamboa, Kouassi, Ntcha

    ROSENBORG (4-3-3): Hansen; Hedenstad, Bjordal, Skjelvik, Meling; Jensen, Konradsen, Midtsjo; Jevtovic (Helland 73), De Lanlay (Vilhjalmsson 73), Bendtner

    Not Used: Ostbo, Rasmussen, Rashani, Gersbach, Lundemo


    UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, first-leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, July 26, 2017

    CELTIC…0

    ROSENBORG…0

    CELTIC were held to a goal-less draw by Rosenborg on a frustrating night in Paradise, leaving the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie evenly poised ahead of next week’s second-leg in Norway. Despite dominating large swathes of the contest, the Hoops couldn’t find the net against the Norwegian title-winners to secure the lead they wanted to take to Trondheim.

    But, Brendan Rodgers’ side, having not conceded an away goal, will still feel confident of earning a positive result in the away leg and progressing to the next round.With injuries to Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko, Norwegian teenager Kristoffer Ajer made his first competitive start for the Hoops against his compatriots, partnering Jozo Simunovic in central defence.

    Elsewhere, Stuart Armstrong was also restored to the starting XI in the only other change to the team who dispatched Linfield with ease 4-0 last week. He was part of a midfield triumvirate alongside new signing Olivier Ntcham and captain Scott Brown, who played his 84TH European match – a record for a Scottish player.

    Up front, the Scottish treble-winners also went with an attacking trident, with James Forrest and Scott Sinclair operating on the flanks, and Tom Rogic stationed in the central position vacated by the suspended Leigh Griffiths and injured Moussa Dembele.Bossing possession, Celtic controlled the early exchanges, but it took them until the 10th minute to fashion their first opening. Ntcham picked out the run of Armstrong with a delicate ball over the top, and when the midfielder’s effort was blocked by Tore Reginiusssen, Rogic was unable to get the rebound under control.

    A quickly-taken corner provided the next opportunity as Forrest saw a shot charged down at the edge of the box. Ajer then demonstrated his aerial prowess, heading over from the resultant set-piece. It was one-way traffic at this stage, with Brendan Rodgers’ side denying the visitors the chance to build any momentum with their aggression and work-rate. And some patient, probing play, Forrest fastened onto a driven ball into the box and had two shots blocked in quick succession.

    At the midway point of the half, Rosenborg embarked on their first meaningful forward foray. Mike Jensen picked out Milan Jevtovic’s run in behind and, although the winger managed to evade Kiernan Tierney, Ajer was across quickly to avert the danger.Boosted by that, the Norwegian outfit briefly emerged from their defensive shell, Craig Gordon only being called into action once when pushing over a cross-shot.

    As half-time approached, the Hoops resumed the ascendency but they were finding it tough to breach the tightly-packed Rosenborg rearguard, particularly without a focal point in attack.Scampering onto Sinclair’s pass, Tierney did provide some penetration when he dug out a cross from the byline, though Forrest was unable to profit in the middle.

    The same pattern continued after the restart, with Celtic dictating proceedings but struggling to unlock the Rosenborg backline.

    Emboldened at the state of play, Kare Ingebrigtsen’s side became more adventurous, and Gordon had to make an excellent save to tip over Vegar Hedenstad’s free-kick from a narrow angle.

    Forrest replied for the hosts, firing over from Armstrong’s corner, but then they had a huge let-off as Yann-Erik de Lanlay scooped over from point-blank range.Nicklas Bendtner was also thwarted by Gordon, and it wasn’t long before Brendan Rodgers made a switch, sending on Jonny Hayes for Ntcham, with the Irishman taking over the central attacking position, freeing Rogic up to move into his favoured No.10 role.

    The tactical change offered Celtic fresh impetus, and Forrest was unfortunate to see his attempt flash wide of the far post after some nimble footwork in the box.

    Rogic was becoming increasingly prominent and he finally found room to try his luck from distance, though he failed to find the target.At the other end, Bendtner was unable to connect with Jensen’s low delivery, before Armstrong saw his driven attempt parried by Andre Hansen, with the midfielder also curling a free-kick over. As the clock ticked down, the Bhoys launched some desperate attacks in search of a late winner, but it all proved in vain.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Armstrong, Tierney; Brown; Ntcham (Hayes 63), Armstrong; Forrest (Benyu 81), Rogic, Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, McGregor, Ralston, Kouassi

    ROSENBORG (4-3-3) Hansen; Hedenstad, Reginiussen (Bjordal 65), Skjelvik, Meling; Midtsjo, Konradsen, Jensen; Jevtovic (Rashani 79) Bendtner, de Lanlay (Vilhjalmsson 80)

    Not Used: Rasmussen, Gersbach, Ostbo, Lunde


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    UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, second-leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, July 19, 2017

    CELTIC…4

    (Sinclair 4, 54 Rogic 47, Armstrong 90+2)

    LINFIELD…0

    Celtic win 6-0 on aggregate

    SCOTT Sinclair bagged a brace as Celtic cruised into the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round with a 6-0 aggregate win over Linfield.

    The winger’s goals book-ended Tom Rogic’s long-range strike, before substitute Stuart Armstrong lashed home at the death, as the Hoops recorded an emphatic 4-0 victory in Paradise on the back of a 2-0 success last week in Belfast.

    Just like the first leg in Windsor Park, it was a dominant display from the Scottish treble-winners, who laid siege to the Linfield goal from the first whistle. Now Brendan Rodgers’ side can look forward to facing Norwegian champions Rosenborg in the next round of the competition after they saw off Dundalk in extra-time.

    Olivier Ntcham made his competitive Celtic debut seven days after joining the club from Manchester City, having featured in last Saturday’s friendly against Olympique Lyonnais. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team who won 2-0 last week in the first-leg in Belfast. Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembele also came into the side, with Erik Sviatchenko, Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths dropping out.

    And it didn’t take long for the new Bhoy to make a telling contribution as the Hoops made an early breakthrough. Taking aim from around 20 yards, Ntcham’s low shot was blocked by Mark Stafford’s boot but Sinclair fastened on to the loose ball and beat Roy Carroll from an acute angle.

    It had been all Celtic from kick-off, with Ntcham firing wide and McGregor looping a header over from Lustig’s lofted pass as the onslaught continued on Carroll’s goal.Dembele was next to threaten from Kieran Tierney’s inviting cross but the striker was unable to steer his volley on target. And the Frenchman came even close from Sinclair’s corner when his thumping header cannoned off the head of a Linfield defender.

    Sinclair looked like a man on a mission, driving at the visitors’ defence at every opportunity and giving right-back Chris Casement a torrid time. And from another one of the Englishman’s tricky runs, Dembele was off target from distance.There was little respite for David Healy’s men as, whenever they managed to get their foot on the ball, Celtic’s furious pressing allowed them to quickly retrieve possession.

    This was underlined in the 28th minute, when tenacious play from Scott Brown and McGregor saw them steal the ball, presenting Rogic with a sight of goal, his low attempt fizzing inches past the post.

    Brown was to the fore again as Brendan Rodgers’ side almost doubled their advantage on the break. Receiving a pass on the turn just inside in his own half, the skipper did brilliantly to flick the ball over Robert Garret and continue the counter. Rogic played in Sinclair, who tried to pick his spot but curled wide.

    Another pinpoint pass from Rogic then gave Dembele a run on goal but he rolled his shot wide. Sinclair was the next beneficiary of Rogic’s creative craft but, again, Linfield were let off as the winger failed to find the target as he stole in at the far post.On the stroke of half-time, Rogic spurned a gilt-edged chance from Tierney’s cross but the Australian internationalist didn’t take long to achieve redemption.

    Less than two minutes were on the clock in the second half when he picked up the ball around 30 yards from goal, took a touch and then bulleted a shot into the corner beyond Carroll.In the 54th minute, Sinclair bagged his brace to make it 3-0. Scampering into the box in search of a return pass, the ball broke back to the Englishman and he made no mistake.

    James Forrest sent a dipping drive over from the angle of the box, before Sinclair came within inches of his hat-trick as his stunning strike from the edge of the area was superbly saved y Carroll who touched the ball on to the bar.With the result secured, the six-in-a-row champions made a series of substitutions, with Kundai Benyu coming on for his competitive bow. The Hoops had a number of further opportunities to add to their tally, with Carroll called into action on several occasions.

    And then, just as the clock ticked down, Armstrong got off the mark for the new season, sweeping into the net after Rogic has wreaked havoc in the visitors’ rearguard with a mazy run into the box.

    CELTIC (3-1-4-1-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown; Forrest (Hayes 67), McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 67), Sinclair; Rogic; Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Benyu, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

    LINFIELD (4-5-1) Carroll; Casement, Stafford, Haughey, Quinn; Mitchell, Garrett (Millar 65),Mulgrew, Lowry, Smyth (Stewart 65); Waterworth (C. Stewart 74)

    Not Used: , Robinson, Millar, Burns, Clarke, Deane


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    UEFA Champions League

    Second Qualifying Round first leg

    Windsor Park, Belfast

    Friday, July 14, 2017

    LINFIELD … 0

    CELTIC … 2

    (Sinclair 16, Rogic 22)

    CELTIC recorded a 2-0 victory over Linfield in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie on what proved to be a comfortable night in the Belfast rain for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Indeed, had it not been for the heroics of veteran goalkeeper, Roy Carroll, in the Linfield goal, the margin of victory for the Hoops could have been higher.

    As it was, first-half goals from Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic have put the Scottish champions in control of the tie ahead of the second leg at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.Within the first 60 seconds of the game starting, the Hoops signalled their attacking intent when Stuart Armstrong fired a shot on target from 25 yards out, and from then on it was a procession of Celtic attacks.

    Tom Rogic had a left-foot effort which just curled over after 12 minutes before another Armstrong shot four minutes later was deflected wide for the first corner of the game, and it led to the opening goal.Griffiths delivered a ball into the box, and although it was headed to the far post, James Forrest lofted it back into the six-yard box where Scott Sinclair’s header took a deflection off Chris Casement and ended up in the Linfield net.

    Carroll then produced two great saves to deny Sinclair a first-half hat-trick, but there was nothing he could do to prevent Rogic extending Celtic’s lead on 22 minutes. Again, the goal came from a corner. This time, Griffiths’ delivery was fired with pinpoint precision to the near post, and the Australian midfielder met the ball perfectly with his left foot to make it 2-0 for the Scottish champions.

    Linfield’s only chance in the first 45 minutes came from Mark Haughey, who scooped a shot high and wide from eight yards out, but the half ended with Celtic in the ascendancy and laying siege to the Linfield goal.Celtic had the ball in the Linfield net within 60 seconds of the restart, but Leigh Griffiths was ruled offside after he’d latched on to a Rogic pass, while Armstrong tried his luck on the 49th minute from just outside the box, but his effort was saved by Carroll.

    There was a moment of controversy in the 65th minute when Leigh Griffiths was inexplicably yellow-carded by the Spanish referee as he delayed taking a corner because of missiles being thrown at him by the Linfield fans, something which Griffiths endured again at subsequent corners, as did Jonny Hayes when he entered the fray.

    Brendan Rodgers made a double substitute with 20 minutes remaining, Moussa Dembele replacing Griffiths and Hayes coming on for James Forrest, and the Irishman set up Rogic, though his right-foot shot went narrowly wide.And Hayes was again involved on 77 minutes, jinking down the right-hand side before delivering a ball into the box.

    Dembele headed it down and into the path of Armstrong, whose powerful volley was well-saved by Carroll.And the Linfield goalkeeper produced two further saves before the end of the match to deny Mikael Lustig from adding to Celtic’s goal tally. But Brendan Rodgers’ side will be confident of completing the job on Wednesday night and progressing to the third qualifying round, where either Dundalk or Rosenborg await.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Armstrong; Forrest (Hayes 70), Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 69).

    Subs: De Vries, Izaguirre, Bitton, McGregor, Kouassi.

    LINFIELD (3-5-2): Carroll; Stafford, Haughey, Clarke (J.Stewart 53); Casement, Garrett, Mulgrew, Lowry, Quinn; Smyth, Waterworth.

    Subs: Deane, Robinson, C.Stewart, Millae, Burns, Mitchell

    SEASON 2017-2018


    Scottish Premiership 
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Saturday, May 6, 2017

    CELTIC…4
(Roberts 47, 62 Boyata 52, McGregor 72)

    ST JOHNSTONE…1
(MacLean 49)

    PATRICK Roberts’ deadly double helped Celtic cruise to a convincing 4-1 victory over St Johnstone and stretch their unbeaten domestic run this season to 43 games.

    After the champions had dominated the opening 45 minutes, they broke the deadlock early in the second half through Roberts’ accurate finish.

    Although Steven MacLean quickly equalised, Dedryck Boyata thumped in a header from Leigh Griffiths’ corner to put the Bhoys back in charge.

    Roberts bundled home from close range after good supply work from Scott Sinclair to make it 3-1 and Callum McGregor sealed the spoils with a stunning individual effort to continue his fantastic run of form.

    After another sparkling showing, the Hoops are now only one victory away from reaching a century of points, with three league games remaining, before they tackle the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen on May 27, where they will attempt to complete a domestic clean sweep.

    Teenagers Mikey Johnston and Anthony Ralston both started for the Bhoys as Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team which trounced Rangers 5-1 last week at Ibrox.

    It was Johnston’s competitive debut for the Bhoys, while Ralston came in for his first senior start, having made two substitute appearances for the first team.

    Ralston replaced Mikael Lustig at right-back and Johnston started in place of Sinclair on the left of an attacking trident behind lone striker Griffiths. Elsewhere, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic were restored to the team, with McGregor and the suspended Scott Brown dropping out.

    Stuart Armstrong captained the side.

    It only took the Hoops 40 seconds to register their first shot on target as Rogic brought out a low save from Zander Clark with a low drive from 25 yards.

    The tone of the game had been set, with the home side firmly on the front foot and Tommy Wright’s team hoping to soak up the pressure and hit on the break.

    But the away side were almost undone by a swift Celtic counter-attack as Rogic’s deft flick released Roberts. He picked out Griffiths down the right but several back-tracking Saints defenders prevented Rogic from reaching the striker’s delivery in the middle.

    Danny Swanson curled a free-kick over at the other end after Dedryck Boyata had been penalised for a foul, but the Bhoys quickly resumed the offensive as Rogic, at the centre of all Celtic’s creative play, called Clark into action with a rasping effort after being picked out by Bitton.

    Johnston certainly wasn’t looking fazed on his big day and he was next to try his luck, following some nimble footwork from Rogic, though Clark was equal to the task.

    The 18-year-old then showed a delightful piece of skill to dance away from his marker only to drag his final effort wide.

    Making his start at Celtic Park since December 17, Rogic looked completely revitalised after his long injury lay-off as he continued to cause the visitors’ defence consternation with his movement, skill and vision.

    And the the Australian internationalist wasn’t far away after he cleverly engineered some space from Griffiths’ corner, despite the close attentions of Joe Shaughnessy.

    Undeterred, Celtic maintained their assault on the Saints’ goal. Armstrong had a couple of efforts from distance, Ralston’s inviting low centre somehow evaded everyone and Kieran Tierney shot wide.

    The Celts did suffer a scare just before the break when Blair Alston blasted over from close-range following Liam Craig’s knock-down. Two minutes into the second half, however, they opened the scoring.

    Johnston was the architect, evading one challenge down the right and feeding Roberts, who took a touch before sweeping the ball into the far corner from 20 yards beyond Clark.

    Moments later, however, the Perth outfit restored parity.  Ricky Foster swung in a cross from the right and, although Craig Gordon saved brilliantly from Graham Cummins’ header, the loose ball was eventually stabbed home by MacLean.

    Stung back into action, back came the Bhoys, and they only needed three minutes to restore their lead as Boyata bulleted home a header from Griffiths’ corner.

    Just before the hour-mark, Scott Sinclair was introduced for Johnston, who received a well-deserved round of applause after acquitting himself excellently on his bow.

    And Sinclair was soon in the thick of the action, blasting over after a wonderful one-two with Griffiths, while Armstrong was inches wide from the edge of the area.

    Number three soon arrived. Clark could only parry Griffiths’ powerful drive and when Sinclair cut the loose ball back from the byline, Roberts was on hand to apply the finish.

    It was now a matter of how many Celtic would score as the game opened up, with Clark thwarting Sinclair and the winger sending the rebound wide.

    And another substitute sealed the points with a sensational solo effort. McGregor had only been on the field for 60 seconds when he embarked on a mazy run from the right.

    Showing terrific technique, he left a number of opponents trailing his wake and then had the composure to bury a shot past Clark.

    And only some last-ditch defending prevented Brendan Rodgers’ side from adding to their tally as the clock ticked down on another excellent home performance.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ralston, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton, Armstrong; Roberts (Forrest 83), Rogic (McGregor 70), Johnston (Sinclair 57); Griffiths
Not Used: de Vries, Kolo, Gamboa, Henderson

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2 Clark; Foster, Anderson, Shaugnessy, Easton; Alston (Wotherspoon 69), Paton, Craig, Swanson (Kane 80); MacLean, Cummins (Thomson 61)
Not Used: Mannus, Scobbie, Smith, Hurst


    Scottish Premiership

    Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

    Saturday, April 29, 2017

    RANGERS…1
(Miller 81)

    CELTIC…5
(Sinclair 7 pen., Griffiths 18, McGregor 52, Boyata 66, Lustig 87)

    CELTIC turned on the style to run riot against Rangers on a memorable day at Ibrox, completely outclassing their city rivals 5-1 to extend their domestic unbeaten run since the start of the season to a remarkable 42 matches.

    Scott Sinclair put the six-in-a-row champions in the driving seat in the seventh minute from the penalty spot after Patrick Roberts had been felled in the box by Myles Beerman.

    A thunderous strike from Leigh Griffiths soon doubled the advantage as the Hoops made all the running and Brendan Rodgers’ side could have been out of sight at the interval as they fashioned chance after chance.

    It mattered little, however, as Celtic maintained their control after the restart. Callum McGregor added a third with an accurate finish and Dedyrck Boyata’s thumping header from Griffith’s free-kick sent the travelling support into ecstasy.

    Kenny Miller pulled a goal back for the home side but, fittingly, the last word went to Celtic as Mikael Lustig waltzed his way through the beleaguered Rangers defence and slotted home.

    Griffiths came into starting XI in place of the injured Moussa Dembele in the only change from the team that convincingly beat the Ibrox side 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final last weekend.

    And Celtic looked intent on continuing on from their dominant display at Hampden, starting with purpose and urgency and within two minutes they had carved open the home defence.

    A slick passing move down the inside left channel saw Sinclair back-heel the ball to the onrushing McGregor, who drove into the box and saw his low shot blocked by a last-ditch block from Clint Hill, with Griffiths unmarked in the middle and screaming for the pass.

    Josh Windass replied for the hosts with a curling shot flew wide, but the Hoops soon resumed their offensive and opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

    As Roberts darted along the edge of the box, he was sent tumbling by Beerman.  After consulting with his officials, referee John Beaton pointed the spot and, Sinclair, as he had done at Hampden, coolly converted from 12 yards, this time sending Wes Foderingham the wrong way and sparking delirium in the Broomloan Stand.

    It was proving to be an enjoyable afternoon for the travelling support as they watched the Hoops boss possession and play some scintillating football at the home of their city rivals.

    In the 18th minute, Celtic doubled their advantage in stunning style. McGregor sent Griffiths scampering clear down the left and the striker took aim and lashed an unstoppable rocket into the top corner from just inside the box. Cue bedlam in the away end.

    The one-way traffic continued as the Hoops threatened to run riot, cutting open their opponents at will, and only a mix of last-gasp defending missed opportunities prevented them from inflicting further punishment.

    Following a wonderfully-weighted pass from Lustig, Sinclair volleyed wide but the offside flag was raised in any event.

    Sinclair was presented with an even better chance moments later when Griffiths’ curling shot cannoned off the bar and dropped for him in the box but he couldn’t steer the rebound on target.

    With Tierney having acres of space to roam forward down the left, Sinclair was able to drift inside and pick up some brilliant positions.And the 28-year-old could easily have had a hat-trick as he spurned another terrific chance just before the half-hour mark after being found in acres of space at the back post from Griffiths’ low centre.

    Roberts was next to try his luck, shooting over from 25 yards as the champions remained in complete control of proceedings.And from Griffiths’ inviting delivery, Clint Hill was forced into a hurried headed clearance that could have easily ended up in his own net.

    After McGregor’s dangerous delivery had been hacked clear, Miller belatedly fired wide at the other end for the hosts on the stroke of half-time.It had been a completely one-sided opening 45 minutes and the pattern continued as the second half got underway, with McGregor sliding in to connect with Armstrong’s ball across goal, forcing Foderingham into a smart save.

    Playing with his usual sense of adventure, Tierney then picked out Griffiths in the middle but the hit-man was unable to generate enough power with his first-time effort to trouble Foderingham.

    Goal number three soon arrived. The outstanding Roberts was first to a loose ball and fed McGregor, who took his time before drilling into the corner.Griffiths had the ball in the net from an acute angle only it to be ruled for offside and the Scotland internationalist also fired over from a free-kick as the onslaught continued on the Rangers goal.

    Just before the midway point of the half, the Ibrox side’s resistance crumbled again. After the Bhoys had won a free-kick on the right, Griffiths swung the set-piece into the box and Boyata bulleted a header home.    Martyn Waghorn headed wide for Rangers in their best chance of the game, before Armstrong came within inches of finding the net with a terrific effort from the edge of the box.

    Miller fired home a consolation for Pedro Caixinha’s side after collecting a return pass from Joe Garner but there was still time for Celtic to fashion a fifth, Lustig dancing past Danny Wilson’s challenge and slotting expertly into the corner to cap off a sensational showing from the champions and an unforgettable day for the club’s supporters.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown (Kouassi 90) Armstrong (Rogic 77); Roberts (Forrest72), McGregor, Sinclair; Griffiths
Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Gamboa, Sviatchenko,

    RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Hill, Wilson, Beerman; Hyndman (Garner 57), Holt, Windass; Miller, Waghorn, Dodoo (Halliday 46)
Not Used: Alnwick, McKay, Forrester, Bates, O’Halloran


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    Scottish Premiership

    Hampden, Glasgow

    Sunday, April 23, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (McGregor 11, Sinclair pen. 51)

    RANGERS…0

    GOALS in either half from Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair saw a dominant Celtic dispatch Rangers 2-0 at Hampden to book their place in the Scottish Cup final.

    McGregor’s composed finish from 18 yards put the Hoops into an early lead after they had made a blistering start to proceedings.And Sinclair put them in complete command when he converted from the penalty spot six minutes into the second half following James Tavernier’s foul on Leigh Griffiths in the box.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side had further chances to add to their tally, with Tom Rogic striking the woodwork as the clock ticked down, but that mattered little as the green-and-white end of the National Stadium exploded in celebration at the final whistle.

    It was another moment to savour in a stellar first season in charge for the Irishman, with the League Cup and a sixth successive title already secured and a domestic clean sweep now only one victory away. Aberdeen will lie in wait in the final on May 27.

    Patrick Roberts came into the starting XI to make his 50th appearance for the club. His inclusion was one of three changes to the team that extended the club’s unbeaten run in domestic football this season to 40 matches away to Ross County last weekend.

    Dedryck Boyata was restored to the heart of the rearguard and Mikael Lustig came in at right-back as the Bhoys reverted to a back-four for the clash. Erik Sviatchenko, James Forrest and Rogic all dropped to the bench.

    Celtic started with real purpose and drive, immediately taking the game to the Ibrox side and winning an early corner that Moussa Dembele headed wide. Moments later, a reckless lunge from Andy Halliday on Roberts saw the Rangers midfielder enter the book. He was lucky to avoid a red. It couldn’t halt the Hoops’ momentum, however.

    Stuart Armstrong was next to threaten as the one-way traffic continued, the midfielder curling a shot inches wide from 20 yards.In the 11th minute, the Bhoys made the breakthrough. Lustig launched a raking ball over the top for Dembele, who held the ball up, before teeing up McGregor, who coolly stroked the ball into the far corner beyond the statuesque Wes Foderingham.

    It was wholly deserved lead and Brendan Rodgers’ side kept up the pressure, with Armstrong, Scott Brown and McGregor dictating proceedings from midfield as Celtic completely bossed possession. Dembele, who had caused the Rangers rearguard consternation with his pace and power, headed over from Scott Sinclair’s set-piece but his game to a premature end just before the half-hour mark.

    Earning a corner with a clever back-heel, the striker went down holding his hamstring and was unable to continue, with Griffiths eventually taking his place after a period of five minutes.

    Once Brendan Rodgers’ side regrouped, they continued their dominance, and Roberts had a free-kick saved by Foderingham at his near post after he had been felled by Myles Beerman, who was perhaps fortunate not collect a second yellow card.

    It until four minutes before the interval for the Ibrox side to fashion their first shot on goal when Miller blazed a half-volley over from distance. To try and stem the Celtic tide, Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha made a double switch at half-time, introducing Barrie McKay and Joe Dodoo, but the same pattern continued.

    Within six minutes of the restart, the Hoops had doubled their advantage. Racing onto a through ball, Griffiths was sent tumbling in the box by James Tavernier as he bore down on goal.

    Referee Willie Collum had no option other than to award the penalty, and Sinclair made no mistake from the spot, his shot finding the net despite the best efforts of Foderingham who got a hand to the ball.A flurry of chances then followed for the champions, who were now cutting open Rangers at will, much to the delight of a buoyant Celtic support.

    Foderingham made a magnificent save to push over Griffiths’ volley after a terrific piece of control from the striker, and Boyata headed narrowly over from Jozo Simunovic’s knockdown.

    Foderingham then came to his team’s rescue, producing smart saves from the impressive Roberts and Griffiths. Rangers briefly rallied in the closing stages, with Miller having a header saved by Gordon and looping a shot over. Martyn Waghorn also spurned a couple of opportunities as Caixinha’s team mounted some desperate late attacks.

    But the last word almost fell to the champions as substitute Tom Rogic cannoned a thumping drive struck the the post from 20 yards as Celtic finished as they had started, the final whistle prompting wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Armstrong, Brown; Roberts (Forrest 82), McGregor (Rogic 75), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths 34)

    Not Used: Bailly, Gamboa, Sviatchenko, Kouassi

    RANGERS (4-2-3-1) Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates, Wilson, Beerman; Hyndman (Windass 79), Holt, Halliday (McKay 46), Miller; Garner (Dodoo 46); Waghorn

    Not Used: Alnwick, Hill, Toral, Hodson



    Scottish Premiership

    Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall

    Sunday, April 16, 2017

    ROSS COUNTY…2

    (Garydne 50, Boyce pen. 90)

    CELTIC…2

    (Tierney 34, Roberts 78)

    CELTIC extended their unbeaten run in domestic football this season to 40 matches but the champions were denied a deserved victory away to Ross County at the death by a controversial refereeing decision.

    Kieran Tierney’s long-range strike had the Hoops in front at the interval after they had completely dominated the first half.

    The Highlanders restored parity through Michael Gardyne early in the second half but the Hoops looked to be cruising to another three points when substitute Patrick Roberts restored their advantage with a sublime solo effort.

    But in the dying seconds, referee Don Robertson somehow awarded a penalty to the home side after Alex Schalk had gone down in the box without being touched. Liam Boyce converted from the spot and the visitors’ understandable frustration boiled over as Scott Brown saw red in stoppage time for a late tackle on Boyce.

    Tom Rogic took another significant step forward following his long injury lay-off, starting his first game since mid-December in one of three changes made by Brendan Rodgers to the team that beat Kilmarnock last weekend.

    Now fully fit after his spell on the treatment table, Moussa Dembele came in to spearhead the attack, while Erik Sviatchenko was restored the backline. Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Patrick Roberts dropped out.

    Backed by their vocal travelling support, Celtic quickly assumed control of proceedings, bossing possession and pinning the hosts back.

    Although they fashioned a number of promising positions, it took until the 17th minute for the champions to force Scott Fox into action as Tierney’s low effort from distance was saved by the former Celtic youth player at his near post.

    Moments later, Callum McGregor drove to the byline and attempted to pick out Dembele in the middle. In the melee that followed Rogic knocked the ball back across goal and James Forrest’s effort was charged down by Kenny Van Der Weg.

    County captain Andrews Davies was next to come to the rescue of his side, making a last-ditch block to prevent Forrest’s low cross reaching the unmarked Dembele.

    Although it was one-way traffic, the home side, encamped around their own box, were working hard to deny Celtic space, and it took a moment of individual inspiration from Tierney to break the deadlock. There looked little danger when the 19-year-old received a pass 30 yards from goal but he took a touch before sending a blistering strike into the far corner.

    It had no effect on the flow of the game as the Hoops continued to stroke the ball around and probe for openings. Tim Chow did manage to register an effort on target for the Staggies after a loose ball dropped to him in the box.

    His weak volley was easily gathered by Gordon, however For all their dominance, it was a reminder to Celtic of the slenderness of their lead – and within five minutes of the restart, the match was level. Ryan Dow engineered some space down the left and his inviting cross was met by Gardyne, whose looping header found the net via the underside of the bar.

    Playing with renewed belief and purpose, the Staggies threatened to complete a swift turnaround, with Davies having a header saved by Gordon and Liam Boyce missing his kick when well-positioned.

    Seeking to regain the ascendency, Brendan Rodgers introduced all three of his substitutes within the space of six minutes, as Leigh Griffiths, Cristian Gamboa and Roberts replaced Rogic, Dembele and Forrest. It had the desired effect.

    Griffiths – making his first appearance since a back injury sustained on international duty last month for Scotland – tested Fox with ferocious, dipping shot which the keeper could only gather at the second attempt.

    A moment of magic from Roberts then put the Bhoys back in front. Darting in from the right, the winger nutmegged Van Der Weg and rolled the ball under Fox and into the far corner.

    Celtic were back in complete command, and Stuart Armstrong came within inches of sealing the win when his free-kick crashed off the bar.But there would be a further controversial twist in the tale. As the clock ticked down, substitute Schalk went down without being touched in the slightest by Sviatchenko. Inexplicably, referee Robertson pointed to the spot and Boyce found the net from 12 yards.

    As the Hoops piled forward in search of a late winner, Brown got his marching orders for a late challenge on Boyce, sparking a melee on the pitch.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon; Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Forrest (Roberts 69), Brown, Armstrong, McGregor; Rogic (Gamboa 63), Sinclair; Dembele (Griffiths 63)

    Not Used: Bailly, Toure, Izaguirre, Kouassi

    ROSS COUNTY (5-4-1) Fox; Tumilty (Schalk 83) Naismith, Davies, Fraser, Van Der Weg; Gardyne (Franks 90), O’Brien (Routis 85), Chow, Dow; Boyce

    Not Used: McCarey, Curran, Dykes, Lalkovic



    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, April 8, 2017

    CELTIC…..3

    (Armstrong 22, Sinclair 71, Forrest 75)

    KILMARNOCK….1

    (Jones 64)

    CHAMPIONS Celtic brushed aside Kilmarnock to go 39 games unbeaten with a comfortable 3-1 victory in Paradise today (Saturday). Goals from Stuart Armstrong, Scott Sinclair and James Forrest ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side continue their incredible domestic run this season as six-in-a-row champions.

    Armstrong with his 14th goal of the season opened the scoring for the Hoops after 22 minutes, and though Kilmarnock stunned the home support with an equaliser from Jordan Jones just after the hour mark, strikes from Scott Sinclair and James Forrest in quick succession reinforced Celtic’s dominance and ensured that all three points remained at Paradise.

    Captain Scott Brown was one of five Celtic players restored to the starting line-up for the game, the midfielder returning to the team along with Dedryck Boyata, James Forrest, Stuart Armstrong and Kieran Tierney following Wednesday’s derby draw with Partick Thistle.

    From the first whistle it was clear that Kilmarnock’s game-plan was to put everyone behind the ball except for Conor Sammon in a bid to frustrate Celtic’s attacking intent, but the champions showed both patience and determination in maintaining possession and probing for openings.

    Sinclair came agonisingly close to opening the scoring for Celtic after 12 minutes, picking up a lovely pass from Forrest and shooting low and hard across the face of goal, but the ball flashed just past Woodman’s far post.

    Armstrong then set up McGregor five minutes later who unleashed a shot from 25 yards, but the Killie keeper produced a good save to deny the Celtic midfielder.

    But there was nothing he could do to prevent Armstrong giving the home side the lead as he fired in a powerful shot from outside the area which took a deflection on its way into the Kilmarnock net.

    There was a great atmosphere inside the sun-kissed Celtic Park as the Hoops fans celebrated the goal, as well as the title success and Friday’s news that Brendan Rodgers had signed a new four-year deal to keep him at the club until June 2021.

    And as the Irishman’s side went in search of a second goal, Kieran Tierney came close with a half-volley after 36 minutes from inside the box. And the last action of the half saw an Armstrong shot blocked by Killie defender Scott Boyd.

    The pattern of the game continued in the same vein into the second-half, with Roberts and Sinclair both coming close, but Kilmarnock, with a rare foray forward, grabbed an unexpected equaliser. Jones hit a shot from inside the box which ricocheted its way past Gordon to make it 1-1 after 64 minutes.

    However, within six minutes, the Hoops were back in front. Armstrong delivered a free-kick into the box, Boyata headed the ball across the face of goal, and Roberts nudged it into the path of Sinclair who, from a couple of yards out, fired home his 23rd goal of the season. Three minutes later Sinclair almost clinched his second goal of the game but his effort was cleared off the line.

    Brendan Rodgers then introduced Tom Rogic and Moussa Dembele, and the Frenchman had an immediate impact on proceedings. His looping effort from 20 yards out beat the keeper but came back off the post, and Forrest was first to react with a header to make it 3-1 and a comfortable win for the Champions.

    CELTIC (3-4-2-1) Gordon, Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata; Forrest, Brown, Armstrong (Kouassi, 84), Tierney; McGregor (Rogic, 72), Sinclair; Roberts (Dembele, 72).

    Unused subs: Hazard, Izaguirre, Bitton, Sviatchenko,

    KILMARNOCK (5-4-1) Woodman; Hendrie, Wilson, Dicker, S. Boyd, Taylor; Roberts, M. Smith, Longstaff, Jones; Sammon Subs: MacDonald, Osborne, K. Boyd, Frizzell, Hawkshaw, Graham, Cameron



    Scottish Premiership

    Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Sunday, April 2, 2017

    HEARTS…0

    CELTIC…5
(Sinclair 24, 27, 85 pen. Armstrong 55, Roberts 62)

    SCOTT Sinclair hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic ruthlessly swept aside Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle to seal a sixth successive championship in style and, remarkably, without defeat.

    Sinclair’s quick-fire double had the Hoops in charge at the break, despite the best efforts of the home side.Fabulous finishes from Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts in the second half ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side would harvest the three points they needed to cross the finishing line.

    And there was still time for Sinclair to claim his hat-trick and notch up his 21st goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was felled in the box by Krytian Nowak.

    It crowned off yet another dominant display from champions, and it was a fitting way to clinch the prize in a league campaign in which they have achieved astonishing levels of consistency and produced some scintillating attacking football.

    The Bhoys’ victory over Hearts stretched their domestic unbeaten run since the start of the season to 37 matches, eclipsing a 100-year-old club record.And they clinched the championship with eight games to spare, having won 28 times and drawn twice – an extraordinary record.

    Injuries to Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths saw Roberts spearhead the Hoops attack in the only change from the team that saw off Dundee last weekend, with Dembele dropping out.

    Celtic made a brisk start in the spring sunshine and Callum McGregor had the ball in the net inside the opening two minutes after a slick interchange of passes but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.

    Jamie Walker, who had collected an early booking for a late challenge on James Forrest, replied for the hosts with an opportunist volley from distance that flew wide.Craig Gordon was then called into action by Esmael Goncalves after the striker had driven in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot from 18 yards.

    The home side were playing with plenty of vigour and Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again in the 16th minute, blocking Goncalves’ angled drive.

    Straight up the other end, Celtic broke at pace and McGregor spurned a good chance to open the scoring when Sinclair’s delicate delivery picked him out in space at the far post, the midfielder steering his shot wide.

    It was pulsating, frenetic end-to-end stuff, but it was the Bhoys who made the breakthrough in the 24th minute. Sinclair raced onto Roberts’ return pass in the box, before lashing a ferocious shot into the roof of the net.

    The travelling support celebrated the goal with gusto and they had reason to cheer again three minutes later as Sinclair bagged his brace and doubled the advantage.

    Roberts again was the provider. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, he neatly turned away from his marker and then played Sinclair in with a sublime pass. The winger’s pace took him clear of the Hearts defence and he gave goalkeeper Jack Hamilton no chance with a clinical finish.

    As Ian Cathro’s side battled for a way back into the match and the Hoops determinedly sought to preserve their two-goal cushion, increasingly, the match became bogged down in midfield and punctuated by fouls, with the card count mounting up for both teams.

    It took until the start of the second half before either team started rediscovered attacking cutting edge. First Bjorn Johnsen fired over from the edge of the box and then the champions had another goal disallowed for offside after Forrest’s shot was deflected into his own net by Tasos Avlonitis.

    Celtic, however, didn’t have long to wait until goal number three. McGregor dummied Tierney’s pass for Armstrong and the midfielder accurate finish flew into far corner.

    Just beyond the hour-mark, the party got underway in earnest in the away end as Roberts scored an absolute stunner. Fastening onto McGregor’s pass, he cut back onto his left foot and curled an exquisite shot into the top corner.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were now in complete command, and with six minutes left on the clock, Sinclair was brought down by Nowak in the box, allowing him to complete his treble from the penalty spot and cap off a sparkling showing in the capital. It was Celtic’s 9000th league goal – another memorable moment on a memorable day.

    And the final whistle was the cue for jubilant celebrations as the manager and his players took the acclaim of the jubilant travelling support.

    CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lusti (Gamboa 79), Simunovic, Boyata (Toure 87); Forrest, Brown, Armstrong, Tierney; McGregor, Roberts (Mackay-Steven 79), Sinclair
Not Used: Bailly, Bitton, Aitchison, Kouassi

    HEARTS (4-4-2) Hamilton; Struna, Avlonitis, Nowak, Sowah; Cowie, Kitchen, Tziolis (Bauben 65) Walker (Martin 65); Johnsen, Goncalves (Beith 71)
Not Used: Noring, Nicholson, Smith, Currie


    Premiership
 Sunday, March 19, 2017

    DUNDEE…1
(El Bakhtaoui 75)

    CELTIC…2
(Simunovic 45, Armstrong 51)

    Celtic are on the verge of a sixth successive league title following a 2-1 win against Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon. Jozo Simunovic put the Hoops ahead just before half-time with his first goal of the season while Stuart Armstrong doubled Celtic’s lead six minutes after half-time.

    Dundee substitute Faissal El Bakhtaoui reduced the deficit with 15 minutes of the match remaining with a wonder strike, but Brendan Rodgers’ side showed great determination to see out the match and take all three points. It now means that victory at Tynecastle against Hearts in two week’s time will confirm Celtic as champions again.

    It’s now 36 domestic games unbeaten for the Hoops who had two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Rangers last weekend. Jozo Simunovic came into Celtic’s starting XI in place of Erik Sviatchenko whilst Nir Bitton dropped the bench to make way for Callum McGregor who made his 100th appearance for the Hoops.

    And it was the league leaders who got the game underway in the Dundee sunshine following a minute’s silence impeccably observed for Lisbon Lion and former Dundee player and manager Tommy Gemmell, who sadly passed away recently.

    Century Bhoy McGregor and James Forrest put the home team on the back foot inside the first minute with some great play on the right side, McGregor delivered the ball into the 18-yard box but Scott Sinclair couldn’t get the ball under control.

    Celtic enjoyed the majority of possession inside the opening 10 minutes of the game as they searched for a third victory over the Dens Park side this season, and Stuart Armstrong came close with a free-kick after 12 minutes following a foul on Scott Sinclair. Moussa Dembele went even closer minutes later, heading just wide from an Armstrong corner.

    After comfortably controlling most of the opening 30 minutes, Sinclair was through on goal again just before the half-hour mark but Bain rushed out to smother any chance the Englishman had of adding to his goal tally.

    Dundee had the chance to take the lead in the 33rd minute with a corner swung in from the right side by Tom Hateley which was turned round the back post for another corner. Hately again put the ball in from the left this time but the threat was cleared from inside the six-yard box by Mikael Lustig.

    Celtic were relentless as half-time approached with a flurry of corners, and Dedryck Boyata came closest when his header was cleared off the line by Paul McGowan. But the goal came with the last kick of the first-half.

    The ball found its way to Simunovic who slotted into the bottom corner of the net to send Brendan Rodgers’ men into the half-time break 1-0 up.

    It was Dundee with the first chance of the second half when Simunovic fouled Kevin Gomis just outside the box on 46 minutes. The free-kick was taken low and hard by Holt but was straight into the arms of Celtic keeper Craig Gordon.

    And in the 51st minute Armstrong doubled Celtic’s lead to 2-0 after he headed home a superb ball into the box from Forrest on the right side. It was the perfect reward for some brilliant build-up play which saw the move started by Craig Gordon before Lustig, Dembele, McGregor and Forrest all got a touch before Armstrong headed home.

    Marcus Haber came close in the 60th minute for Dundee, his shot flashed wide of Gordon’s post, but the home side did manage to reduce the deficit when El Bakhtaoui, on as a substitute, skipped past Boyata and unleashed a powerful shot that Craig Gordon could do nothing about.

    Dembele had a chance to make it three for the Hoops a couple of minutes later but the low drive was straight at keeper Bain and as the game entered the closing stages both teams fought hard to find another goal.

    However, Brendan Rodgers’ side held firm to take all three points and move within one win of becoming champions.

    CELTIC (4-3-3): Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, McGregor (Kouassi, 68), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts, 70), Sinclair (Sviatchenko, 83), Dembele.
Subs: Bailly, Sviatchenko, Griffiths, Gamboa, Roberts, Bitton, Kouassi.

    DUNDEE: Bain; Holt, Vincent, O’Dea, Hateley, O’Hara, McGowan, Haber, Ojamaa, Kerr, Gomis
Subs: Mitchell, Williams, Ross, El Bakhtaoui, Klok, Gadzhalov, Wighton

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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, March 12, 2017

    CELTIC….1

    (Armstrong 35)

    RANGERS…1

    (Hill 87)

    CELTIC extended their unbeaten domestic run to 35 games but they had to be content with a share of the points as the fourth derby clash of the season against Rangers finished 1-1 at Celtic Park.

    Stuart Armstrong gave the Hoops a first-half lead, and though they dominated most of the second-half, Brendan Rodgers’ side couldn’t extend their lead and were hit by a late sucker-punch as Clint Hill grabbed a 87th-minute equaliser for the visitors.

    The Celtic manager made just one change from the side which had knocked St Mirren out of the Scottish Cup last weekend, with James Forrest replacing Gary Mackay-Steven.

    And in an opening 45 minutes of few chances, though several contentious challenges by the visitors that went unpunished by referee, Bobby Madden, it was the Ibrox side who enjoyed the first clear-cut chance after 24 minutes when Martyn Waghorn raced in on goal. But he was denied by the left foot of Craig Gordon, who did well to deny the Ibrox striker.

    And Gordon’s opposite number in the Rangers goal, Wes Foderingham, produced a great save to deny Stuart Armstrong, pushing his free-kick on to the post and behind for a corner.

    James Forrest was hauled to the ground by Clint Hill as he raced towards the penalty area, winning a free-kick for his side, but not for the first time in the game, the Rangers defender’s foul did not get the yellow card it merited.

    Kieran Tierney, a tireless operator down the left flank throughout the 90 minutes, came close with a fierce shot just after the half-hour mark, and just three minutes later Celtic took the lead.

    Armstrong won possession on the edge of the Rangers box and played the ball out to Forrest, who slotted it back into his path, and from the edge of the box, the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable left-foot shot into the back of the net.

    The last action of the first-half saw Celtic earn a corner, but the referee blew for half-time before the home side could take the set-piece.

    Callum McGregor was a half-time substitute for Nir Bitton, and it was the Hoops who dominated much of the second 45 minutes.

    Clint Hill was finally booked for a foul on Moussa Dembele on 52 minutes, and just four minutes later Armstrong came close to doubling Celtic’s lead with a low shot, but Foderingham denied the midfielder his second goal of the afternoon.

    And the Rangers keeper again foiled Armstrong with another good save on 68 minutes.Brendan Rodgers’ side were continuing to dominate the game and pushing forward in search of a second goal. Leigh Griffiths came on for Armstrong, while Dembele came close with a shot which flashed across the six-yard box with five minutes of the match remaining.

    Two minutes later, however, the visitors grabbed an equaliser they barely deserved. Emerson Hyndman’s shot was saved by Craig Gordon, but Hill was first to pounce and fired the ball into the net.

    There was still time for Celtic to get the winner and they were denied a stonewall penalty when Hill clearly fouled Griffiths inside the box, but referee Madden waved the penalty claims away.The Hoops will now look to continue their unbeaten domestic run when they travel to Dens Park to take on Dundee next weekend.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Armstrong; Forrest, Dembele, Sinclair.

    Subs: De Vries, Simunovic, Griffiths, Gamboa, Roberts, McGregor, Kouassi

    RANGERS (4-4-1-1) Foderingham, Hodson, Hill, Wilson, Wallace; Tavernier, Hyndman, Holt, McKay; Miller, Waghorn.

    Subs: Alnwick, O’Halloran, Dodoo, Windass, Senderos, Bates, Forrester


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    William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, March 5, 2017

    CELTIC….4

    (Lustig 58, Sinclair 59, Dembele 68, Griffiths 78)

    ST MIRREN…1

    (Davis 13)

    CELTIC staged a superb second-half fightback to put a spirited St Mirren side to the sword and book their place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.The Hoops failed to find their normal fluency in the first half and trailed to Harry Davis’ goal at the interval but they rallied after the break to turn the match aroundMikael Lustig and Scott Sinclair scored twice in the space of 60 seconds to put the Hoops ahead before the hour-mark.

    And Moussa Dembele and substitute Leigh Griffiths sealed the victory in the closing stages to book their spot in the draw for the last four of the competition and extend their unbeaten domestic run this season to 34 matches.Brendan Rodgers had kept faith with the same team that dispatched Inverness Caley Thistle so impressively on Wednesday night which extended the champions’ advantage at the top of the table to 27 points.

    The in-form Dembele, who had bagged a brace in the Highlands, again led the line, with Gary Mackay-Steven and Sinclair providing close support from the flanks.There was a poignant start to proceedings as Paradise remembered Celtic legend Tommy Gemmell, who sadly passed away on Thursday at the age of 73, with an impeccably observed minute’s silence.The Lisbon Lion won three Scottish Cups during his illustrious career in the Hoops and the current Celtic team showed their intent to go all the way in the competition this season as they made a brisk start to the match.

    In the third minute, Mackay-Steven dispossessed Stelios Demetriou and raced into the box before the cutting the ball back for Stuart Armstrong, whose low shot was saved by Billy O’BrienThrough the pace of Sinclair, Dembele and Mackay-Steven, the Hoops were looking a real threat when they drove at the Buddies’ backline, and Mackay Steven was unable to capitalise when Armstrong played him in down the inside-right channel.

    But Celtic were stunned in the 13th minute when the Championship club opened the scoring. Following a quickly-taken free-kick, Cameron Smith’s deep cross was nodded back across goal by John Sutton and Harry Davis was left unmarked in the middle to apply the simple finish.It was the first goal the Hoops had conceded in four games and they took some time to rediscover their rhythm. On the half-hour mark, they sparked into life again. Mackay-Steven broke down the right and picked out Sinclair in the box. He teed-up Scott Brown and the captain’s left-foot shot flew wide of the far post.

    Celtic then looked to be denied a strong penalty claim when a high boot from Demetriou caught Mackay-Steven in the face as he attempted to reach a loose ball following a corner, referee Steven McLean unmoved by the protests. Brendan Rodgers’ side were growing in ascendency again as half-time approached and they should have been level at the break, but Dembele could only hold his hands in frustration after scuffing a shot inches past the post.

    Patrick Roberts, back in the squad after a month on the treatment table, replaced Mackay-Steven at the interval as the home side started the second half with real urgency, with Dembele firing wide after a driven cross from Mikael Lustig.The Paisley side were playing with plenty of spirit, however, and they emerged from their defensive shell to create a flurry of chances at the other end.

    First, Sutton had a shot deflected over after Dedryck Boyata’s clearance and fell to him in the box, and then Dembele’s attemped clearance from Mallon’s low free-kick cannoned off the underside of the bar, with Davis unable to divert the rebound home from an acute angle.Those misses proved costly as Celtic turned the game around in the space of 60 seconds. After Demetriou had fouled substitute Griffiths on the right, Roberts floated in the free-kick and Lustig rose highest to glance a header into the far corner.

    When St Mirren tried to launch an attack straight from the restart, Celtic won back possession and countered. Griffiths drilled a pass out to Sinclair on the left and the wide-man burst into the box and curled an exquisite finish into the far corner.It was all Celtic now and only a last-ditch challenge from Gary Irvine denied Sinclair hitting the target again after Griffiths had picked him out again from the left.

    Midway through the half, Brendan Rodgers side effectively put the result beyond doubt with a wonderfully-worked goal. Sinclair raced into the box to collect a return pass from Roberts and then supplied Dembele in the middle who made no mistake. The lively Lewis Morgan replied for Jack Ross’ side with a curling shot that flew wide but the Bhoys were now playing some stylish, free-flowing football, and after a series of first-time passes, Dembele was close to his second when he struck the outside of the post.

    Goal number four arrived 12 minutes from time through a trademark strike from Griffiths. The hit-man received the ball 25 yards of goal and lashed a powerful shot beyond O’Brien.Kouassi Eboue came off the bench to make his Celtic bow, and Boyata and Griffiths both had goals disallowed in the final 10 minutes as the Hoops finished on top and kept their ambitions of a domestic clean sweep alive.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (Griffiths 54), Armstrong (Kouassi 77); Mackay-Steven (Roberts 46), Dembele, Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, McGregor

    ST MIRREN (4-4-1-1) O’Brien; Irvine, Davis, MacKenzie (Baird 75) Demetriou; Magennis (Storie 84), McGinn, Mallon, Morgan; Smith; Sutton (Loy 70)

    Not Used: Langfield, Webster, Fjelde, O’Keefe


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    Scottish Premiership

    Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    CELTIC…4

    (Sinclair 43, Dembele 46,73, Armstrong 66)

    INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

    MOUSSA Dembele moved past the 30-goal milestone this season after his second successive brace helped Celtic crush Inverness Caley Thistle in the Highlands and clock up their 22nd league win on the spin.A sensational strike from Scott Sinclair put the champions ahead on the stroke of half-time and Dembele seized upon a defensive error from the hosts moments into the second period to put the Bhoys in complete command.

    Stuart Armstrong’s fabulous free-kick and Dembele’s cool finish – his 31st goal of the campaign – saw Brendan Rodgers’ side complete an emphatic victory, which stretched their lead at the top of the table to 27 points and extended their unbeaten domestic run to 33 matches. A sixth successive title is now within touching distance.

    Mikael Lustig and Gary Mackay-Steven both started as the manager made two changes to the side which faced against Hamilton Accies last weekend. Cristian Gamboa and the injured James Forrest dropped out.Despite the long journey north and midweek evening kick off, the Celtic support packed out the away end and held up a banner before kick-off to show their support for club icon Billy McNeill after his family revealed on Sunday that he was battling dementia.

    On a freezing night in the Highlands, the Hoops made the early running, with Kieran Tierney shooting over in the box after linking up with Scott Sinclair, and the on-form Dembele drawing two saves from Owan Fon Williams.The home side, buoyed by a recent upturn in form, including a 2-1 win over Rangers in their last match, were playing with renewed vigour, and Billy McKay had their first attempt on goal in the 21st minute but Craig Gordon made a comfortable save.

    Dembele had looked hungry to add to his 29 goals this season in the opening stages and he showcased his power and pace midway through the half with a rampaging run through the heart of the Inverness defence that almost paid dividends.As the half-hour mark approached, the Hoops started to crank up the pressure and make real inroads into the hosts’ defence, who were now encamped on the edge of their own box.

    Fon Wiliams had to make a smart stop from Gary Mackay-Steven’s crisp volley following a corner, Gary Warren blocked Scott Brown’s effort on the edge of the box and Nir Bitton tried his luck from distance. Just two minutes before the interval, Celtic broke the deadlock in impressive style. Sinclair collected a loose ball 30 yards from goal, skipped past Ross Draper and then curled into the top corner. It was a fantastic finish from the winger and his goal in four matches.

    After waiting so long in the first half to open the scoring, the champions only took seconds to double their advantage following the restart as they capitalised on a defensive mishap from the Caley JagsStraight from the Inverness kick off, the ball was worked back to goalkeeper Fon Williams, who made a mess of his clearance. As the loose ball spun in the air, Dembele was first to it, coolly evading the despairing dive of Fon Williams before applying the finish.

    It should have been 3-0 in the 49th minute as Sinclair fired over after brilliant work from Dembele. It was all Celtic now as the Highlanders struggled to stem the tide, and Fon Williams had to pull off an excellent reaction save to thwart Armstrong from close range.

    Nir Bitton fired wide and Mikael Lustig shot over as the onslaught continued from the Bhoys. Goal number soon three soon arrived. Dembele was sent tumbling on the angle of the box and Armstrong deceived Fon Williams, who was expecting the cross, by whipping the resultant free-kick inside the near post.

    Gordon was finally called into meaningful action when he tipped over from substitute Iain Vigurs’ long-range volley. Moments later, however, Brendan Rodgers’ side inflicted further punishment. Tierney picked out the run of Dembele with a raking ball over the top. The Frenchman bore down on goal and confidently chipped the ball over the advancing Fon Williams and into the far corner. And the visitors could have added to their tally as the clock ticked down, with Dembele, Sinclair and McGregor all having chances as the Hoops juggernaut rolled on.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown (Henderson 78) Armstrong; Mackay-Steven (McGregor 67), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Griffiths

    INVERNESS CALEY THITLE (4-2-3-1) Fon Williams; McKay, Laing, Warren, Raven; Tansey, Draper; King, Polworth, Cole (Vigurs 65) Billy McKay (Anier 82)

    Not Used: Hoban, McNaughton, Ebbe, Fisher, Boden


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, February 25, 2017

    CELTIC…2

    (Dembele 45, 60)

    HAMILTON…0

    MOUSSA Dembele moved on to 29 goals for the campaign after his deadly double put Hamilton Accies to the sword in Paradise to extend Celtic’s domestic unbeaten run to 32 matches.

    The prolific striker fired the Hoops ahead on the stroke of half-time with a sublime solo goal that was arguably his best of the season so far.And he ensured the champions would clock up their 21st successive league victory on the hour mark when he converted from the spot after the outstanding Kieran Tierney had been fouled in the box by Massimo Donati.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side now go into Wednesday night’s game away to Inverness Caley Thistle still in possession of their commanding 24-point lead at the top of the table as they close in on their sixth successive title.

    Stuart Armstrong made his first Celtic start in a month after returning from a four-week injury absence in last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell. His inclusion in the starting XI was one of three changes to the team that beat the Steelmen seven days ago, with Cristian Gamboa and Erik Sviatchenko also restored to the side. Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Liam Henderson dropped out.

    Inside the first 10 minutes, Brendan Rodgers was forced to make an enforced change as James Forrest departed from the fray after after a reckless challenge from Danny Redmond near the touchline. He was replaced by Gary Mackay-Steven.

    Prior to that, the Hoops had made a lively start, with Kieran Tierney lashing a dangerous ball across goal that had no takers. It was the left-back who was the most threatening outlet for the champions as he constantly bombed forward against the defensively-minded visitors, operating as an auxiliary winger.

    Time and time again, his desire and work-rate saw him find promising positions near the box and he was next try his luck after Armstrong had rolled the ball into his path but his 25-yard drive flew wide.

    Scott Sinclair rifled a shot over from distance as the champions continued to search for a way through the massed ranks of Hamilton players.

    The Lanarkshire side had shown limited ambition but they emerged from their defensive shell in the 27th minute to launch a counter-attack which culminated in Dougie Imrie shooting wide.

    Just past the half-hour mark, Celtic should have made the breakthrough. Tierney and Sinclair linked up down the left and when the former drilled the ball across the six-yard box, Armstrong had an open goal but he could only hit the bar.

    When Armstrong curled wide a shot minute before the break after being teed-up Nir Bitton’s flick, it looked like Celtic would have nothing to show for their dominance at half-time.

    Step forward Dembele. Collecting possession with his back to goal at the edge of the box, there looked little on but the 20-year-old jinked past Massimo Donati before finding the top corner with a sensational finish.

    Dembele came close to doubling his and the Hoops’ tally early in the second period when, following tremendous industry from Armstrong, he met Tierney’s cutback at the near post but saw his first-time attempt deflected wide. He wouldn’t be denied for long, however, and Tierney was the provider.

    Driving into the box from the left on yet another enterprising run, he was sent tumbling by Donati and referee Crawford Allan immediately pointed to the spot. Dembele took responsibility, coolly sweeping the ball down the middle as Woods dived to his right.

    After that, the hosts never looked in danger of losing their grip on the points, with Craig Gordon only called into serious action deep into stoppage time when he tipped substitute Eamonn Brophy’s header over the bar.

    Most of the action continued at the other end as Mackay-Steven and Armstrong tried their luck, while Sinclair had a penalty shout turned down in another dominant display from Brendan Rodgers’ side.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Armstrong (McGregor 85), Bitton, Brown; Forrest (Mackay-Steven 9), Dembele (Griffiths 72), Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Henderson

    HAMILTON (3-5-2) Woods; Devlin, Donati, McMann; Skondras, McKinnon, Gillespie, Redmond (Kurtaj 69), Imrie; Bingham (Brophy 75), Boyd (Docherty 64)

    Not Used: Matthews, Seaborne, Watson, Adams


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    CELTIC…2

    (Dembele 34 pen., Forrest 41)

    MOTHERWELL…0

    FIRST-HALF goals from Moussa Dembele and James Forrest saw Celtic cruise past Motherwell in Paradise and clock up their 20th successive league victory. Dembele bagged his 27th goal of a prolific season from the spot after he had been fouled in the box by Zak Jules.

    And Forrest, a constant threat with his pace and direct running throughout the match, quickly doubled the advantage with a fine solo effort.

    The champions’ grip on the points never looked in danger, with Craig Gordon rarely tested and the Bhoys coming close on several occasions to adding to their tally. And that meant Brendan Rodgers’ side restored their 27-point lead at the top of the table and extended their unbeaten domestic run since the start of the season to 31 matches.

    Jozo Simunovic came back into the starting XI in the only change to the Hoops team that crushed Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup last weekend, with Erik Sviatchenko dropping to the bench. Liam Henderson made his third successive start in the No.10 role, while goal machine Dembele continued to lead the line after back-to-back hat-tricks.

    Although Celtic dominated possession in the opening stages, meaningful chances were scarce as the visitors, perhaps mindful of their heavy midweek defeat to Aberdeen, adopted a conservative approach and defended deep in their own half.

    With space at a premium through the middle, Forrest and Kieran Tierney tried to offer some cutting edge down the flanks, and it was the Celtic Youth Academy graduates who eventually unlocked the Steelmen backline around the midway point of the half.

    Collecting a pass down the left, Tierney spotted Forrest’s run inside the box and quickly picked out his team-mate. Forrest’s angled shot was pushed away by Craig Samson only as far as Henderson, but the young midfielder was unable to steer the rebound on target.

    In the 34th minute, Celtic’s perseverance paid off.  Henderson’s corner was flicked on by Simunovic and when Dembele attempted to reach the loose ball, he was sent tumbling by defender Jules.

    Referee Don Robertson immediately pointed the spot and Dembele confidently converted from 12 yards to continue his incredible scoring form That sparked a brief response from Mark McGhee’s side, and Gordon was called into action for the first time when he had to push away Stephen Pearson’s effort after Louis Moult had knocked the ball back into box.

    But goal number two didn’t take long to arrive for Brendan Rodgers’ side as Forrest skipped past former Hoops youth player Joe Chalmers and drilled a low shot inside the far post. And Forrest underlined his confidence on the stroke of half-time by stinging Samson’s palms with rasping drive from distance as the Hoops finished the half in complete control.

    Stuart Armstrong replaced Henderson for the start of the second half, making his return after a four-week injury lay-off. And the midfielder showed he was back up at full throttle by stealing possession within moments of the restart and releasing Dembele, whose effort was blocked at the edge of the area.

    Nir Bitton also tested Samson with a blistering long-range shot as the Hoops continued to crank up the pressure. The Israeli midfielder then showed some nimble footwork to dribble into the box and tee-up Dembele, who had another attempt charged down.

    Ominously for Motherwell, Dembele was beginning to find more space and he flashed a shot narrowly wide after being released by Brown as Celtic broke at pace. He threatened again in the 54th minute, when Scott Sinclair, closely marked throughout the match, had the fans on their feet after waltzing past two players and sending the ball across goal.

    With the game becoming more stretched, Sinclair was also growing in prominence and he wasn’t far away with a curling free-kick after being felled on the edge of the box. And he spurned a golden chance to wrap up the points as the game entered its closing stages when he volleyed Forrest’s powerful cross over.

    Brown blasted inches over from 25 yards as the Hoops comfortably saw out the final few minutes to maintain their domestic dominance.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney; Bitton (McGregor 83), Brown; Forrest, Henderson (Armstrong 46), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko

    MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Samson; McMillan, Heneghan, McManus (Jules 5) Chalmers; Cadden (Bowman 54), Lasley, Clay, Pearson; McDonald, Moult

    Not Used: Griffiths, Ainsworth, Frear, Lucas, Campbell

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    Scottish Cup fifth round

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

    CELTIC…6

    (Lustig 21, Dembele 45, 50, 59, Tierney 86, Brown 90+1)

    INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE…0

    MOUSSA Dembele made it back-to-back hat-tricks for Celtic after his quick-fire treble helped the Hoops beat Inverness Caley Thistle 6-0 to book their spot in the Scottish Cup last eight and extend their domestic unbeaten run to 30 matches.Last Sunday against St Johnstone the striker took 24 minutes to complete this three-goal haul but this time he only required 14 minutes to repeat the feat as his sensational debut season with the champions continued.

    Mikael Lustig’s deft finish had put the Hoops deservedly ahead, following superb supply work from Nir Bitton, before Dembele got in on the act on the stroke of half-time when Owain Fon Williams was unable to keep out his low shot.He made it 3-0 early in the second half with a measured finish and completed his hat-trick with a powerful header after meeting a cross from the outstanding James Forrest.

    Forrest again turned provider as Kieran Tierney struck number five, before captain Scott Brown piled on the visitors’ misery by lashing the ball into the top corner in the dying seconds as Paradise stood to acclaim another dazzling display. Still on track for a domestic clean sweep, Brendan Rodgers’ side will now take their place in tomorrow’s (Sunday) draw for the quarter-finals of the competition.

    There were two changes to the side that beat St Johnstone 5-2 at McDiarmid Park last weekend, with Forrest restored to the side and hat-trick hero, Dembele, leading the line. Patrick Roberts and Gary Mackay-Steven were the players to drop out, with the latter named among the substitutes.Liam Henderson, who opened the scoring last Sunday, retained his place in the starting XI and it was the young midfielder who threatened first for the Bhoys when he fired wide from 20 yards inside the opening 60 seconds.

    As Celtic continued to make the early running, Tierney was next to try his luck but he was unable to control his half-volley after a surging run from Forrest down the right.

    After this initial flurry of chances, however, the Hoops had to be content with bossing possession as the visitors threw men behind the ball and tightly-marked several Hoops forwards, such as Scott Sinclair, who was followed by David Raven wherever he roamed.

    But in the 21st minute they unlocked the Inverness rearguard to open the scoring after a piece of superb invention from Bitton and Lustig. The Israeli internationalist picked out the run of the right-back with a sublime lofted pass, and Lustig controlled it an instant before cleverly flicking the ball into the net.

    The champions looked keen to quickly inflict further punishment, with Henderson curling a shot over and Forrest having an attempt blocked by the backtracking Gary Warren.

    To try and stem the Celtic tide, Richie Foran’s side restored to some roughhouse tactics, with Carl Tremarco, Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs all seeing yellow for reckless challenges in the space of eight minutes. Apart from increasing their card count, it had no affect on the flow of the match as Brendan Rodgers’ side remained in complete control and Warren became the fourth Inverness player to enter the book for a foul on Dembele.

    Playing with his usual vigour, Henderson continued to supplement the attack and he found himself in another good position as half-time approached, but he couldn’t keep his a shot down after good work from Sinclair.Moments before the interval, Celtic doubled their advantage. Forrest was the architect, leaving Tremarco for dead and teeing up Dembele, whose low effort crept under Owain Fon Williams and trickled over the line.

    It only took the Hoops five minutes of the second period to add to their tally. The visitors failed to clear their lines and when Raven’s last-gasp challenge on Sinclair rolled invitingly into the path of Dembele, he dispatched the ball into the corner.It now looked a matter of how many more goals Celtic would score as Fon Williams saved smartly from Henderson, following some slick, one-touch build-up play, and Bitton dragged a shot wide.

    Just before the hour-mark, the Highlanders’ resistance crumbed again. As the home side surged forward on the counter, Dembele swept a pass wide to Forrest on the right. The winger reached the byline and delivered an inviting cross which the onrushing Dembele headed emphatically into the net for his second treble in the space of six days.

    The impressive Forrest should have got on the act himself in the 68th minute after he dispossessed the dithering Brad McKay but he drilled inches wide with only Fon Williams to beat.

    Vigurs belatedly blasted wide for the away side, before Dembele and Brown came close. In the closing stages, the Hoops broke through again as Tierney powered a header into the net from Forrest’s centre.And right at the death, Brown smashed the ball beyond Fon Williams after Sinclair had wreaked havoc on the left as the Celtic juggernaut rolled on.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Toure 88), Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown; Forrest, Henderson (McGregor 66), Sinclair; Dembele (Ciftci 81)

    Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

    INVERNESS CALEY THISTLE (4-5-1) Fon Williams; Raven, Warren, McKay, Tremarco; King (Mulraney 54), Draper (Cole 64), Tansey, Vigurs, Anier; Billy McKay (Ebbe 64)

    Not Used: Hoban, Polworth, Fisher, Boden


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    Scottish Premiership

    McDiarmid Park, Perth

    Sunday, February 5, 2017

    ST JOHNSTONE…2

    (Watson 31, Boyata o.g. 43)

    CELTIC…5

    (Henderson 6, Dembele pen. 61, 75, 85 Sinclair 81)

    MOUSSA Dembele came off the bench to bag a 24-minute hat-trick as Celtic fought back to sweep aside St Johnstone 5-2 at McDiamird Park and extend their domestic unbeaten run to 29 games.Liam Henderson had put the Hoops into an early lead in Perth but the hosts went in ahead at the interval thanks to Keith Watson’s header and Dedyrck Boyata’s own goal.

    But moments after entering the fray, Dembele restored parity from the penalty spot after Keith Watson had been penalised for handling Kieran Tierney’s cross.

    The striker’s cool finish from Mikael Lustig’s cutback made it 3-2 and, after Scott Sinclair had sealed the win with a breakaway goal, he completed his treble with five minutes left on the clock following some terrific skill from Lustig and Callum McGregor.Having clocked up their 19th consecutive league victory, Brendan Rodgers’ side now enjoy a 27-point lead at the top of the table as they close in on a sixth successive league title.

    The Irishman had made made three changes from the Celtic team that defeated Aberdeen 1-0 on Wednesday night. Erik Sviatchenko returned in central defence, Henderson started in an advanced midfield role while Gary Mackay-Steven was deployed on the right of the attacking trident. Jozo Simunovic, McGregor and James Forrest were the players to drop out, with all of them named among the substitutes.And it only took Henderson six minutes to justify his selection as he opened the scoring after goalkeeper Zander Clark had denied the Hoops twice in quick succession.

    Industrious play from birthday Bhoy Patrick Roberts sparked the move. He stole possession from Danny Swanson and played in Mackay-Steven, whose shot was parried by Clark. Mackay-Steven retrieved the ball to maintain the danger, however, and then it was Roberts’ turn to be denied by Clark following Brown’s pass. But the shot-stopper left was helpless when Henderson followed up to confidently sweep home the rebound with an accurate left-footed finish.

    It was the perfect start for the champions, who had started with pace and purpose, and Henderson almost bagged a second shortly after when he met Kieran Tierney’s cutback but Tam Scobbie was on hand to block the shot.Having being under the cosh in the opening exchanges, the home side started to grow into the contest. Danny Swanson was off target with an ambitious effort from distance, and it was the Saints’ top scorer who spotted the run of Richard Foster into the box in the 18th minute but Craig Gordon was out quickly to block the wide-man’s effort.

    Celtic continued to look the more dangerous side, though, and a rapid breakaway from the Bhoys should have seen them double their advantage. Henderson fed Sinclair on the halfway line and he accelerated through the middle before supplying Mackay-Steven, who bore down on Clark but was unable to beat the keeper.And Brendan Rodgers’ side were punished for their profligacy just beyond the half-hour mark as the Saints levelled the match. After the Hoops had been forced to concede a corner after a quick counter-attack, Keith Watson rose highest from Swanson’s delivery to head home, despite Gordon’s best efforts.

    Stung by that setback, the Bhoys tried to muster a response and Henderson had a shot saved and Sinclair fired over.But, particularly on the break, the home side remained a threat and they completed a surprise turnaround as half-time approached. David Wotherspoon had just come close with a header minutes earlier, and it was his presence that caused Dedryck Boyata to head into his own net from Swanson’s delivery.

    There was still time for Celtic to mount a late flurry of pressure – Roberts tested Clark with a half-volley and Henderson had a free-kick saved – but they had the unusual sensation of trailing at the interval.The champions looked determined to remedy this situation as they started the second half at a furious tempo, with Henderson thwarted by Clark from an acute angle after a quickly-taken free-kick.St Johnstone midfielder Paul Paton was also lucky not to avoid further censure than just a yellow card when cynically taking out Nir Bitton

    Just beyond the hour-mark, they got their reward. Tierney left Foster for dead on the left, and when his delivery appeared to strike the arm of Watson, referee Craig Thomson pointed to the spot. Dembele, only just on a sub, calmly slotted away the penalty with his first touch of the game.

    The momentum had now swung firmly back in Celtic’s direction, and Dembele put them back in front with 15 minutes left on the clock. Lustig managed to retrieve Tierney’s cross on the byline and when the Swede rolled the ball back towards the edge of the box, Dembele sent a composed finish beyond Clark.That forced the Saints to commit more men forward and Brendan Rodgers’ side took full advantage. From a St Johnstone corner, Brown picked out Roberts on the right. The winger burst inside and found Sinclair, who applied the finish.

    And there was still time for Dembele to grab his hat-trick, the 20-year-old adjusting his feet quickly to find the net after superb work from Lustig and McGregor as the champions survived another test to maintain their fabulous form.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton, Brown; Mackay-Steven (Dembele 59), Henderson (McGregor 71), Sinclair; Roberts (Ciftci 86)

    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, Forrest

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Watson, Shaughnessy, Scobbie, Easton; Foster (MacLean 78), Paton, Wotherspoon (Alston 70), Swanson; Davidson; Cummins

    Not Used: Manus, Millar, Smith, Craig, Thomson


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday February 1, 2017

    CELTIC…1

    (Boyata 57)

    ABERDEEN…0

    DEDRYCK Boyata’s powerful header powered Celtic to their 18th league win in a row and on to the 67-points mark as they overcame a dogged Aberdeen side at Paradise.

    The defender’s second-half strike, his second in three games, was the only goal in a match that was largely controlled by Celtic from start to finish but saw the home side’s chances limited, particularly in a first-half where the Dons defended deep and in numbers.

    The solitary effort nonetheless secured a deserved victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side and helped stretch the champions’ domestic unbeaten run to 28 games.

    After emphatically overcoming Hearts 4-0 at the weekend, the Hoops made just one change to the team, with Mikael Lustig replacing Cristian Gamboa in defence, but there was a more noticeable change to the overall system deployed by Brendan Rodgers at the start of the game, with the Celts lining up with three at the back and four across midfield.

    That switch gave Kieran Tierney licence to roam down the left as an attacking midfielder, but Derek McInnes responded by tasking Jonny Hayes with the responsibility of man-marking the Celtic teenager.

    The 19-year-old won the early battle, however, flashing a shot over from outside the box inside five minutes after losing his man as he and Patrick Roberts led the charge for the Celts early on.

    It took the Dons the better part of 20 minutes to create anything in retaliation but Graeme Shinnie’s shot from 20 yards was still enough to get Craig Gordon scrambling as the ball rippled the outside of the net. The opportunity transpired to be the only one of its kind for the visitors as the champions rarely let possession slip in a dominant but ultimately fruitless first-half.

    The Pittodrie side were marshalled well at the back, defending their 18-yard line in numbers but Celtic’s varied combination play and flashes of skill from Roberts and Scott Sinclair gave hope that a breakthrough could be made before the interval.

    It looked like the Celts were on the verge of doing just that when Callum McGregor’s clinical through pass gave Roberts space to run into five minutes before half-time but Ryan Jack slid in at the precise moment to intercept the winger’s pass to Sinclair and thwart what would surely have been the opener.

    After a goal-less first-half Celtic’s play was given an injection of pace as the Hoops passed the ball even quicker, particularly around the Dons box. The visitors remained tight at the back but a poor tackle from Hayes on Tierney after the 19-year-old evaded his attentions allowed the Bhoys to storm into the lead.

    The foul gave Scott Sinclair the perfect angle to cross into the box from the left and his precise delivery was met perfectly by Dedryck Boyata, who arched his body in mid-air after making a run to the front post to put his back to goal and crash a thunderous header into the net to break the deadlock.

    Sinclair then almost turned from provider to scorer when he controlled Bitton’s looped pass over the backline, spun his marker and curled a shot towards the top corner, but the crossbar denied the Englishman what would have been a stunning goal.

    The winger’s relentless running at the Aberdeen defence soon saw him on the receiving end of a late lunging challenge from Shinnie before Ash Taylor waded in with an incredibly reckless two-footed sliding tackle on the former Manchester City star as he spun away in midfield to launch another attack.

    The Dons were reeling while Celtic were rampant and space was beginning to open in the visiting defence. Gary Mackay-Steven and Liam Henderson’s introduction in the final stages sought to exploit that with yet another domestic win in sight.

    The pair looked lively, with Henderson in particular exhibiting flashes of composure under pressure, but neither could create another clear-cut chance for the Bhoys to add to their lead.

    It mattered little in the end, however, as the Hoops dealt with what limited attack the Dons offered as the game entered its final minutes, allowing Boyata’s header to stand as the only goal of the game, a strike which sent Celtic 25 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership after 23 games.

    The champions now stand on 67 points ahead of Sunday’s trip to McDiarmid Park where they will take on St Johnstone.

    CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata; Forrest (Mackay-Steven 71), Bitton, Brown, Tierney; McGregor (Henderson 79), Roberts (Sviatchenko 86), Sinclair.

    Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Aitchison

    ABERDEEN (5-3-2) Lewis; Hayes, Logan (Pawlett 90), Taylor, Reynolds (Stockley 86), Considine; Jack, McLean, Shinnie; Rooney (Storey 76), McGinn.

    Not used: Alexander, O’Connor, Wright, Ross


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, January 29, 2017

    CELTIC…4
(McGregor 30, Sinclair 77, pen. 90+1, Roberts 80)

    HEARTS…0

    SCOTT Sinclair bagged a late brace as Celtic cruised past Hearts in Paradise to eclipse the Lisbon Lions’ 26-game domestic unbeaten run which they set in the club’s historic 1966/67 season.

    The Hoops led at the break through Callum McGregor and controlled proceedings throughout, but it took them until the closing stages to seal the spoils when Sinclair and Patrick Roberts struck in quick succession.

    And there was still time for Sinclair to convert from the penalty spot after 16-year-old Jack Aitchison, on as a late substitute, was sent tumbling in the box by Lennard Sowah.

    It was the champions’ 17th consecutive league victory and restored their 22-point advantage at the top of the table as their domestic domination shows no sign of abating.

    Roberts came into the Celtic starting XI in one of two changes to the team that saw off St Johnstone on Wednesday night. The winger, who last started for the Bhoys on Christmas Eve away to Hamilton, replaced Moussa Dembele, with Scott Sinclair moving inside to spearhead the Hoops attack.

    An injury to Stuart Armstrong in the warm-up forced Brendan Rodgers into another enforced switch, with McGregor promoted from the bench. Emilio Izaguirre took his spot among the substitutes.

    The Bhoys bossed possession in the early stages but it took them until the ninth minute to garner a sight of goal, with Nir Bitton having a shot deflected over from 20 yards. And the Israeli internationalist was also on the end of the resultant corner, glancing a volley wide from Roberts’ delivery.

    An alert James Forrest then robbed John Souttar of possession inside the box but Sinclair was flagged offside when he received the ball.

    Aside from long-range shots from Malaury Martin and Jamie Walker, the visitors were generally preoccupied by defensive duties, flooding men behind the ball in attempt to frustrate the champions.

    It was proving a successful strategy as the Hoops struggled to meaningfully test goalkeeper Jack Hamilton but on the half-hour mark he was beaten as the home side clinically broke the deadlock with their first shot on target.

    Having just been moved back out to his traditional left-flank position by Brendan Rodgers, Sinclair collected possession and embarked on a mazy run. He picked out the run from McGregor, and the midfielder impressively took the ball in his stride before dispatching a shot into the net via the inside of the post.

    The thrusting runs of Kieran Tierney down the left looked the most likely outlet for Celtic to add to their tally but Ian Cathro’s side held firm and could have levelled on the stroke of half-time had Walker kept his header down from Martin’s free-kick.

    That was a timely reminder of the slenderness of the home side’s lead and they started the second period with urgency and purpose in search of building a more secure advantage.

    James Forrest flashed a dangerous cross into the box, Cristian Gamboa shot wide and only a last-ditch from Liam Smith denied Forrest as the winger bore down on goal.

    Bitton and Roberts also had shots comfortably saved by Hamilton, though the keeper was motionless when Roberts took aim again in the 68th minute and was relieved see the ball curl inches beyond his far post.

    Hearts survived this spell of pressure, however, and they created their best chance of the match, when Martin broke clear from a simple ball over the top but Craig Gordon was able to claw his shot to safety.

    Straight up the other end, Tierney showed terrific tenacity to beat Smith to the ball and send in a wonderful cross for Sinclair, but the wide-man was unable to divert the ball home.

    The killer second goal finally arrived with 13 minutes left on the clock. Tierney was the architect, drilling the ball across goal and when Aaron Hughes failed to deal with the danger, Sinclair forced the ball home from close-range.

    Celtic quickly inflicted further punishment as the away side’s resistance crumbled. Once again, Tierney was the provider, racing on to Henderson’s pass and cutting the ball back for Roberts, who had time to take a touch before lashing high into the net.

    Substitute Liam Henderson had a shot blocked by Hughes and then Sinclair crowned off a memorable afternoon with a confidently-taken penalty after teenager Aitchison had been felled by Sowah in the box.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Lustig 79), Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, Armstrong; Roberts (Aitchison 82), Sinclair, Forrest (Henderson 67)
Not Used: De Vries, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre,

    HEARTS (4-2-3-1) Hamilton; Smith, Souttar, Hughes, Sowah; Kitchen (Beith 81) Cowie; Nicholson (Choulay 59), Martin (Sammon 78) Walker; Johnsen
Not Used: Noring, Oshaniwa, Bikey, Zanata,


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday January 25, 2017

    CELTIC…1
(Boyata 71)

    ST JOHNSTONE…0

    BRENDAN Rodgers’ Celtic etched their names into the history books as they equalled the Lisbon Lions’ 26-game unbeaten start to a domestic season with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone.

    The record, set by Jock Stein’s all-conquering Hoops side of 1966/67, was matched as Dedryck Boyata’s goal ensured a 25th victory out of 26 domestic games. The only blip was a 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caley Thistle back in September.

    The decisive goal now gives the Celts a chance to eclipse the Lions’ record when Hearts visit Paradise this Sunday.

    The victory, which now puts the Hoops 22 points clear of their closest rivals at the summit of the SPFL Premiership, also coincided with a historic landmark for Celtic captain Scott Brown, who made his 400th appearance for the club with a trademark commanding display in midfield.

    Brown was one of 10 of players who kept their place in the side following the 3-0 victory over Albion Rovers on Sunday in the Scottish Cup fourth round, while Jozo Simunovic was brought in as a replacement for Mikael Lustig.

    The champions largely dominated an entertaining, if a little frantic, first-half and had the ball in the back of the net inside 10 minutes when Scott Sinclair rose at the back post to nod James Forrest’s clipped cross past Zander Clark, but the ball was judged to have gone out of play before the Scotland winger could get his delivery in.

    The Celts were twice denied on the line in the midst of an end-to-end spell of the action as a curling shot from Stuart Armstrong and a powerful header from Dedryck Boyata were cleared, while Craig Gordon was relieved Danny Swanson hit the post.

    Both teams weathered the frenetic period of action but it was the Hoops who found themselves back on the front foot as half-time approached and they almost scored when Moussa Dembele fired narrowly wide from a Scott Sinclair cutback.

    A similar move again saw Dembele crack an effort over the bar after another driving run and shot from Armstrong had been blocked for a corner. It was the Forrest’s turn to be thwarted by goalkeeper Clark as the winger took aim from 20 yards before half-time as Sinclair was again denied by the visiting defence.

    The Perth side’s resistance was tested straight from the restart but Tommy Wright’s team remained resolute in defence. Their drilled, disciplined tactics allowed Celtic little space in the final third, and any time they did, the ball had to make its way through a sea of blue and white shirts in the box before reaching Clark in goal.

    The Hoops needed a fresh approach and Brendan Rodgers looked to his bench for inspiration, adding Patrick Roberts to the mix in place of Forrest as Brown and Armstrong finally got the first shots on target of the second-half.

    The young Englishman had an almost instant impact, turning two Saints defenders inside-out on the edge of the box at the byline before cutting the ball across the six-yard box but both Dembele and Sinclair couldn’t find the net.

    Boyata then had a header cleared off the line again with 20 minutes left from an Armstrong corner, but a second chance from an identical set-piece saw the 26-year-old out-jump Steven Anderson to power an unstoppable header past Clark to finally give the champions the well-deserved lead with 20 minutes left.

    It was the Belgian defender’s first goal of the season in only his third appearance under Brendan Rodgers but was a mark of the defender’s confidence and willingness to prove himself at Paradise.

    St Johnstone instantly switched their approach, throwing on two attackers and it brought a string of corners for the visitors but the Hoops survived the danger, despite Brown ending up in his own net after a strong challenge at one of the set-pieces.

    Leigh Griffiths reinforced Celtic’s strength up front, replacing Dembele while Erik Sviatchenko took the impressive Cristian Gamboa’s place in defence late on, and the Dane’s presence was a calming influence at the back.

    St Johnstone had one final throw of the dice with a late free-kick fired into Celtic territory but Sviatchenko was there to clear the danger and secure an historic win for Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops on a special night for the team and the captain.

    Only Hearts stand in the champions’ way now from surpassing the record set by Jock Stein’s team as the league games continue to come fast and furious for the Celts.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Sviatchenko 83), Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney; Bitton; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Roberts 63), Dembele (Griffiths75), Sinclair.
Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Mackay-Steven, , McGregor

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Watson, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Scobbie; Wotherspoon (Alston 59), Paton, Millar, Craig; Kane (MacLean 79), Swanson (Cummins 79).
Not used: Mannus, Davidson, Easton, Thomson

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    Scottish Premiership

    Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow

    Saturday, December 31, 2016

    RANGERS…1

    (Miller 12)

    CELTIC…2

    (Dembele 34, Sinclair 70)

    SCOTT Sinclair’s 11th league goal of the season saw Celtic fight back to seal a deserved Glasgow derby victory over Rangers at Ibrox and maintain their sensational start to the season going into the new year.Kenny Miller had fired the hosts into an early lead but the champions restored parity before the break thanks to Moussa Dembele’s thunderous strike.

    From that moment on, the champions were the dominant side, creating countless chances before they finally found a way through in the 70th minute when the excellent Sinclair converted Stuart Armstrong’s cross at the far post, a goal that proved decisive in a pulsating contest.The final whistle was the signal was jubilant celebrations among the players on the pitch and in the away end, with Brendan Rodgers’ side extending their unbeaten domestic run to 24 games and stretching their lead at the top of the table to 19 points, having played a game fewer than their rivals.

    Dembele, who had scored four times against the Ibrox side already this season, including a hat-trick in the last league meeting of the sides, was restored to the starting XI – and he certainly proved his worth.His inclusion was one of two changes to the team that beat Ross County 2-0 on Wednesday night, with Callum McGregor returning to the midfield following his suspension.

    Leigh Griffiths and Ryan Christie were the two players to drop out, with the former named among the substitutes.Prior to kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed by for the 66 fans that tragically lost their lives in the Ibrox Disaster.The match then started at its usual frenetic pace and it was the home side who made the first foray forward almost straight from the kick off. Barrie McKay collected a loose ball on the left, drove forward and picked out Joe Garner in the box but Armstrong was back quickly to make a timely challenge at the expense of a corner.

    McKay had made a lively start for Rangers and he supplied Jason Holt on the edge of the box in the fourth minute, giving the former but Craig Gordon leapt to his right to make a low save.After this initial flurry from the Ibrox side, Celtic started to settle into their stride, enjoying some periods of possession, with Armstrong having a shot deflected wide from distance and Mikael Lustig heading the resultant corner over. Sinclair also shot wide after fastening onto a long ball over the top.

    But in the 12th minute the hosts broke the deadlock. James Tavernier drilled a ball across from the byline and Miller stabbed home from close range.Emboldened by their goal, Rangers continued to pour forward and Martyn Waghorn, an early replacement for the injured Garner, had a header saved by Gordon but the offside flag was raised in any event.

    The champions gradually worked their way back into the contest and after Armstrong and McGregor had combined on the edge of the box, the latter worked a sight of goal in the box but he curled well over.With space at a premium in midfield and the game being played at a furious pace, it took until the 33rd minute for Celtic to carve out their next opening on the counter-attack. Sinclair’s speed saw him beat the offside trap and, although he was unable to get the original pass under control, he still managed to manoeuvre his way into the box and crack a shot off the inside of the post.

    From the resultant corner, the Hoops levelled the match in stunning style. Sinclair’s lofted delivery was missed by everyone in the middle but dropped for Dembele at the far post and he lashed in a ferocious half-volley that ripped into the top of the net, sending the away support into delirium.

    The momentum now swung firmly in Celtic’s direction and had James Forrest got a better contact from Emilio Izaguirre’s low delivery then it could have been quick-fire turnaround for Brendan Rodgers’ side.Sinclair had been a constant menace down the left with his pace, movement and trickery, and he threatened again as half-time approached, thrusting into the box and bringing out a flying save from Wes Foderingham.

    The visitors continued where they had left off as the second half got underway and Sinclair curled a free-kick wide after Dembele had been felled by Tavernier on the apex of the box.Moments later, Dembele spurned an excellent chance to grab his second of the game after Lustig had cleverly found him in the box in acres of space, the Frenchman failing to make clean contact.

    Foderingham then came to his team’s rescue, blocking Forrest’s shot after Armstrong’s deft pass has put the winger in the clear.It was one-way traffic and the woodwork denied Celtic for a second time in the 55th minute. McGregor scampered down the left and his cross was met acrobatically by Dembele on the volley. He did brilliantly to keep the ball down but could only watch in anguish as the ball bounced up and struck the underside of the bar before Sinclair sent the rebound into the side-netting.

    Rangers survived the onslaught, replying with a McKay shot that was straight at Gordon, while Waghorn also failed to capitalise when breaking clear of the Celtic defence, though there did appear to be handball earlier in the move. Around the midway point of the half, Sinclair was thwarted by Foderingham and the offside flag after a one-two with Dembele and then Gordon saved from Danny Wilson at the other end following a Rangers corner – but it was Celtic who deservedly broke through again with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.

    Only minutes after replacing Forrest, Patrick Roberts threaded a pass through for Armstrong and his low cross was swept home at the far post by Sinclair. Armstrong had been growing in prominence and only a superb save from Foderingham denied him making it 3-1 after he had been supplied by Roberts.

    The Hoops were almost punished for their profligacy on the break when Halliday centred for Miller, whose shot rolled off the far post.

    But Celtic could easily have inflicted further punishment as the clock ticked down, with Armstrong coming close on two occasions before the Hogmanay party got underway in earnest in the Broomloan Stand.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; McGregor (Bitton 86), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts 68), Dembele, Sinclair

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Griffiths, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

    RANGERS (3-5-2) Foderingham; Kiernan; Hill, Wilson; Tavernier, Holt (Forrester 82), Halliday, Windass (Dodoo 65) McKay; Garner (Waghorn 16), Miller

    Not Used: Gilks Hodson, Crooks, O’Halloran


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday December 28th, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Sviatchenko 38, Armstrong 45+2)

    ROSS COUNTY…0

    TWO of quick-fire goals before half-time from Erik Sviatchenko and Stuart Armstrong saw Celtic finish 2016 undefeated at Paradise in domestic competition as they overcame Ross County 2-0.

    The Scottish champions kicked off the year at home with a 1-0 win against Partick Thistle in January and brought their 2016 fixtures at Celtic Park to a close with a convincing win over the Highlanders to go 16 points clear at the top of the table after Rangers drew with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

    The victory also marked Celtic’s 19th game unbeaten in the league this season and their 14th win on the bounce in the Premiership.Sviatchenko’s 35-yard drive, closely followed by Armstrong’s fine solo effort, established Celtic’s dominance in the first-half and they went on to control possession with a passing masterclass in the second 45 minutes. 

    No more goals came in the second-half, despite the best efforts of the Bhoys, but the clinical first-half strikes were enough to send Celtic to Ibrox on Saturday undefeated ahead of their final game of the year.Brendan Rodgers made three changes for the clash with Ross County, with James Forrest lively on his return to the starting XI in place of Patrick Roberts on the right, while Ryan Christie did well to get himself on the ball in the central attacking role behind Leigh Griffiths, coming in for the suspended Callum McGregor. 

    Jozo Simunovic completed the changes, coming in for Cristian Gamboa.Celtic eventually established their authority in possession but the visitors underlined their threat on the break with a wasted chance from Liam Boyce after an industrious run from Christie was thwarted outside County territory midway through the first-half.

    The Bhoys then spurned their best chance to that point when a brave tackle from Forrest worked the ball out to Emilio Izaguirre on the left flank, but Scott Sinclair could only direct his header from the Honduran’s cross wide of Scott Fox’s goal.

    The pressure eventually paid off, though, just before half-time and it came from an unlikely source – a 35-yard strike from Erik Sviatchenko. The Danish defender received the ball in midfield and took a touch to avoid the attentions of Alex Schalk, striding forward past the centre-circle. With no-one in front of him, he took aim and guided a low shot past Fox’s outstretched right hand to give Celtic a deserved 1-0 lead.

    Wave after wave of Hoops attack then flooded the County half and the reward for Celtic’s perseverance came swiftly through another piece of individual excellence, this time from Stuart Armstrong.The midfielder gathered the ball just outside the box and feinted to shoot with his left, then his right, before finally unleashing a low shot with his left foot into the far corner, putting the champions comfortably in charge at the break.

    The Hoops went right back on the hunt for more goals at the start of the second-half but they had their momentum stunted by a dangerously late tackle on Forrest from Chow, who caught the winger flush on the ankle with a lunging tackle from behind.

    The Scotland internationalist soon dusted himself off, however, and continued to influence play, getting involved in some nice interplay on the edge of the County box with Scott Sinclair before Griffiths fired a header over from Scott Brown’s deep cross.

    Brendan Rodgers shuffled his pack by replacing the impressive Christie and Griffiths with Liam Henderson and Moussa Dembele with just over 20 minutes left, before Forrest was also withdrawn for Roberts after the winger found himself on the receiving end of another strong tackle in midfield.

    The Bhoys’ stranglehold on the ball continued as the game entered the final stages with their relentless passing and movement dragging the visitors out of position and into needless tackles, with Martin Woods booked for one such incident with Scott Brown just outside the Celtic box.

    The Staggies midfielder could have then saw red with 10 minutes to go when he went in late on the Celtic skipper again but referee Nick Walsh didn’t produce a second yellow – one of several decisions which irked the home crowd throughout the game.

    Woods’ reprieve almost proved costly for Celtic minutes later when he dug out the ball from Brown’s feet and curled a long-range shot at goal but Craig Gordon tipped the swerving effort round the post at full stretch.

    The visitors then ended the game like they started but there was no reward for their late flurry, despite Gordon being called into action to save on his line to palm away Andrew Davies’ header from Woods’ corner.The save preserved Celtic’s 2-0 lead and the final whistle propelled the champions to their 14th league win on the bounce and a 16-point lead over second-placed Rangers with a game in hand ahead of Saturday’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox, which will round off the first-half of the season before the winter break.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Christie (Henderson 62), Armstrong; Forrest (Roberts 70), Griffiths (Dembele 66), Sinclair.

    Not used: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Gamboa

    ROSS COUNTY (4-5-1) : Fox; Fraser, Quinn, Davies, McEveley; Curran, Routis (McShane 66), Chow, Woods, Boyce (Morrison 76); Schalk (Tumilty 62).~

    Not used: McCarey, Dow, Dingwall, McLaughlin


    Scottish Premiership

    SuperSeal Stadium

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

    HAMILTON ACCIES…0

    CELTIC…3

    (Griffiths 41, Armstrong 54, Dembele 83)

    STUART Armstrong’s Christmas cracker helped ten-man Celtic record a comfortable 3-0 win over Hamilton Accies to extend their domestic unbeaten run to 22 games and preserve their 14-point advantage at the top of the table. Leigh Griffiths had fired the Hoops into the lead at the break at the Superseal Stadium, before Callum McGregor was harshly sent off for a second booking minutes into the second half.

    But Brendan Rodgers’ side showed their fighting spirit to swiftly double the advantage through Armstrong, the in-form midfielder finding the top corner with a ferocious long-range shot.And after that the Bhoys resolutely held firm and clinically sealed a 13th straight victory as substitutes James Forrest and Moussa Dembele combined for the latter to guide a shot beyond goalkeeper Gary Woods.

    Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack as Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team that saw off Partick Thistle on Tuesday night. Erik Sviatchenko and Emilio Izaguirre were restored to the defence and Stuart Armstrong came back in central midfield. Dembele, Calvin Miller, Liam Henderson and Jozo Simunovic were the players to drop out.

    Despite the torrential and windswept conditions, Celtic made a positive start and Sviatchenko almost put them ahead in the fourth minute when his header from Griffiths’ corner was diverted onto the underside of the bar by Rakish Bingham, with the ball eventually scrambled clear by the hosts.

    At the other end, Bingham threatened to get on the end of Ali Crawford’s centre before Scott Sinclair shot over after cutting in from the left.Moving the ball around with pace and playing with plenty of width, the Hoops continued to take the game to Martin Canning’s side, and they threatened again from another Griffiths corner. His low delivery was flicked on by Armstrong and Scott Brown was unable to scramble the ball past Woods in the ensuing melee.

    After this initial flurry of offensive activity, the game became scrappier and bogged down in a congested midfield area, though the Bhoys still managed to conjure up some intricate passages of play, with the lively Sinclair to the fore.And it was the wide-man who picked out McGregor in the box the 26th minute with a precise pass. The midfielder did well to dance away from one defender but his final effort was charged down by Scott McMann.

    A rare Hamilton breakaway saw Dougie Imrie fire a powerful shot straight into Craig Gordon’s arms, as the stalemate continued.

    Griffiths shot over and Cristian Gamboa lashed narrowly wide from distance before Celtic grabbed the vital breakthrough four minutes before the break.McGregor threaded a pass through the middle and when Michael Devlin failed to deal with it, Griffiths was onto it in flash, bursting through the middle and then finishing emphatically into the corner past Woods.Dembele replaced the goalscorer for the start for the start of the second half and the champions soon had to make another reshuffle in controversial circumstances.

    McGregor, who had been booked in the first half, collided with McMann on the touchline as he attempted to block a clearance. It looked an innocuous challenge but referee Willie Collum produced a second yellow card and gave the 23-year-old his marching orders.

    Nir Bitton was introduced from the bench at the expense of Patrick Roberts to bolster the midfield but the ten men showed they were still a force to be reckoned with as Armstrong doubled the lead with a sensational strike from distance

    Picking up the ball 35 yards from goal, the former Dundee United man took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner.With their advantage in personnel, Hamilton were having more of the ball but, aside from a low shot from Louis Longridge that Gordon did well to push round the post, they were failing to seriously trouble the Celtic backline.And a sublime piece of skill from Bitton which took him beyond an Accies defender and into the box presented Dembele with a sight of goal, the Frenchman’s shot from 18-yards saved by Woods.

    Hamilton sub Eammon Brophy headed wide and was denied by Gordon before the Bhoys broke at speed to completely kill off the home side’s resistance, with Dembele finishing with conviction from Forrest cutback.And there was still time for Forrest to shot wide as the clock ticked down as the champions finished on top to keep the Celtic juggernaut rolling on.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; McGregor, Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 51), Griffiths (Dembele 46), Sinclair (Forrest 76)

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Christie, Henderson

    HAMILTON ACCIES (3-4-1-2) Woods; Sarris, Devlin, McMann; Longridge, Mackinnon, Donati, Imrie; Redmond (Brophy 55); Crawford, Bingham (D’Acol 72)

    Not Used: Thomson, Seaborne, Cunningham, Breslin, Hughes


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Tuesday December 20, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Sinclair 17)

    PARTICK THISTLE…0

    SCOTT Sinclair’s first-half strike helped Celtic surge into a 14-point lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership as they edged past a stubborn Partick Thistle at Paradise.

    The Hoops winger notched his 11th goal of the season with a clinical first-time hit after Liam Henderson’s clever free-kick, and the goal proved enough to earn the champions their 16th league victory of the season, protecting their unbeaten run in Scottish football which now stands at 21 games.

    Sinclair’s finish came early in the first-half but it was Thistle who had started the game in enterprising fashion and led the action in terms of goalmouth chances in a bright opening 15 minutes.

    The visiting side’s ambitious 4-4-1-1 formation gave them width in the flanks, enough to test debutant Calvin Miller at left-back with the pace of David Amoo, and to create a number of good opportunities, the best of which fell to striker Ade Azeez, who pulled out a good save from Craig Gordon with a shot flashed across goal from right to left.

    Liam Lindsay also took aim from a Thistle corner, arching a shot over the bar, but the Jags’ early enthusiasm was dampened just a minute later when Callum Booth was booked for a foul on Cristian Gamboa on the right side, which led to a well-worked opening goal from the Hoops.

    Henderson, one of eight changes from the 2-1 win over Dundee at the weekend, skimmed the set-piece along the wet Celtic Park surface to the penalty spot to find Sinclair’s angled run from the back post, allowing the winger to curl a shot into the far corner past Tomas Cerny.

    It was the Englishman’s 11th goal of the season and his first since returning from a four week lay-off, giving the Bhoys a firm foothold in the match.

    And Celtic almost doubled their advantage on the half-hour makr with what would have been a memorable debut goal from Miller, but Cerny got down well to gather the 18-year-old’s right-footed shot after nice link-up play on the left from Patrick Roberts and Henderson.

    The visitors were still a threat, however, with Ryan Edwards at the heart of most of their good play and it was another strong run from the Australian that set up Azeez inside the area but Gordon closed the angle and saved the striker’s shot for a corner.

    The danger wasn’t over as Thistle again tested the Celtic goalkeeper from the set-piece but Lindsay was penalised for climbing on Mikael Lustig as he sent his header on target.

    Tensions began to rise with half-time on the horizon as the visitors persevered with their pressing play and attacking style, while Celtic couldn’t quite find the killer pass, but the Hoops held on to their one-goal advantage at the interval.

    Roberts did his best to increase that after the restart, embarking on a series of tormenting runs on the right flank but the winger’s wizardry couldn’t pry open the Jags defence. Sinclair also took aim from distance after being afforded a rare bit of space but his curling shot was off target.

    Brendan Rodgers made his first tactical switch of the game after the hour-mark with the score still stuck at 1-0, introducing Emilio Izaguirre for Miller, who received a standing ovation from the home support after a promising debut.

    Thistle were then guilty of not levelling the game seconds later when they sprung an attack down Celtic’s left after Izaguirre was beaten at the touchline, but Ziggy Gordon failed to get his shot on target with just the Celtic keeper to beat.

    The champions then passed up their own chance to find the net when Sinclair burst free of the Thistle backline after Moussa Dembele’s crunching tackle in midfield, but Cerny saved well before the Celtic winger was replaced by Stuart Armstrong with 20 minutes left.

    Dembele was then denied by Cerny before Gordon saved well from Sean Welsh’s close-range shot as a Thistle counter-attack broke up a sustained period of Celtic pressure.

    Leigh Griffiths was then given just under 15 minutes to make his mark from the bench as he replaced Dembele in Brendan Rodgers’ final throw of the dice and he got straight into the action, meeting a cross from Izaguirre with a header which arched over the bar.

    As time ebbed away so did the Jags’ energy to press Celtic in their own half, inviting the Bhoys further forward and bringing out two excellent stops from Cerny to thwart Roberts twice in quick succession.

    The champions’ appetite for a second goal continued until the final whistle but so did Thistle’s quest for an equaliser. Sinclair’s expert finish in the first-half proved to be enough for the Bhoys, however, who now go into the weekend’s game at Hamilton 14 points clear with one game still in-hand over their closest rivals.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Simunovic, Miller (Izaguirre 63); Brown; McGregor, Henderson; Roberts, Dembele (Griffiths 76), Sinclair (Armstrong 69).

    Not used: De Vries, Bitton, Mackay-Steven, Sviatchenko

    PARTICK THISTLE: (4-4-1-1) Cerny; Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Booth; Amoo (Erskine 68), Osman, Welsh (Barton 76), Lawless; Edwards; Azeez (Doolan 81).

    Not used: Stuckmann, Elliot, Wilson, McDaid


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, December 17, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Griffiths 45+1, Bitton 57)

    DUNDEE…1

    (Haber 69)

    CELTIC restored their 11-point lead at the top of the table and extended their domestic unbeaten run to 20 matches after a narrow but dominant 2-1 over Dundee.Leigh Griffiths’ fabulous free-kick sent the Hoops into the interval in the lead after they had controlled a one-sided first half and Nir Bitton doubled the advantage 12 minutes into the second period.

    At that point, it looked like it would be a comfortable afternoon for the champions but Marcus Haber’s deflected strike made it a more nervy finish. However, Brendan Rodgers’ side saw out the closing stages to march on in the title race.

    Ryan Christie made his second league start of the season in one of five changes to the team that saw off Hamilton on Tuesday night. Cristian Gamboa, Emilio Izaguirre, Bitton and Gary Mackay-Steven also came into the side, while Griffiths, who had also scored the winner against Hamilton Accies, continued to lead the line for the Bhoys.

    Stuart Armstrong donned the captain’s armband in the absence of the suspended Scott Brown, and Mikael Lustig, Patrick Roberts, Callum McGregor and Moussa Dembele were the other players to drop out. All were named among the substitutes.Celtic began at a furious tempo, quickly pinning the visitors back deep in their defensive third and moving the ball around with pace and purpose.

    Gamboa was prominent in the early exchanges, using his devastating speed to good effect to send in some dangerous deliveries from the byline, while only a last-ditch tackle from Kostadin Gadzhalov denied Christie a clear strike at goal after he had darted into the box.

    Christie had another shot charged down by Tom Hateley and some quick counter-pressing from Armstrong culminated in Griffiths seeing a shot deflected wide.

    In the 10th minute, a wonderfully-worked move almost saw Brendan Rodgers side open the scoring. Following a short corner, Christie fed Griffiths on the edge of the area. Showing tremendous technique, he collected a return pass from Nir Bitton in his stride and sent a guided effort off the far post.

    Armstrong and Rogic had shots from distance saved by Bain as the pressure continued unabated – and then Rogic spurned a golden chance to break the deadlock. Christie picked out the midfielder’s run into the box with a sublime pass leaving him with only Bain to beat but he scooped the ball over the bar.It had been completely one-way traffic and it took until the 24th minute for Dundee to emerge from their defensive shell, with Hateley shooting over following a set-piece.

    Normal service quickly resumed and Rogic had a curling shot held by Bain at the second attempt, before Kevin Holt lashed wide for the visitors with a speculative shot.As half-time approached, the champions continued to probe for a route through the sea of dark blue shirts, moving the ball from side to side as Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre operated as auxiliary wingers.

    It was taking a series of last-gasp challenges and blocks to keep the Bhoys at bay, and one desperate clearance from Gadzhalov cannoned off his own player Holt and whizzed past the post.

    Finally, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors’ resistance crumbled – but only through a moment of magic from Griffiths. Rogic was sent crashing the ground 30 yards from goal by Darren O’Dea, a foul which forced the Australian internationalist to make a premature exit from the fray, and Griffiths brilliantly swept the resulting set-piece over wall and into the corner for his 12th goal of the season.Callum McGregor replaced Rogic for the start of the second half and after a short lull, the Hoops picked up the tempo and began to flood forward again.

    Nimble footwork from the Christie in the box saw him dig out a cross from the byline that forced Holt to head off the line.Moments later, Dundee’s defence was breached again. After another swift interchange of passes down the left, Izaguirre’s cross from the byline was only partially cleared and Bitton picked his spot with an accurate finish from the edge of the box.

    Griffiths lashed a half-volley narrowly over from 25 yards as Celtic threatened to inflict further punishment but it was the Dens Park side who grabbed the next goal.

    The Hoops failed to heed a warning in the 66th minute, when Armstrong had to head Wighton’s attempt off the line following a corner as two minutes later, Haber collected a pass in the box and found the net via a deflection off Jozo Simunovic.

    Scott Sinclair then made a welcome return from injury in place of Mackay-Steven before Izaguirre and Griffiths flashed shots wide. Moussa Dembele, in the running for the prestigious Young French Player of the Year prize, was also introduced and he had a couple of efforts on goal as the game became stretched.

    Dundee substitute Faissal El-Bakhtaoui missed a wonderful chance to steal a point for his team, before Sinclair almost capitalised on a couple of late counter-attacks as the Hoops prevailed to cement their position at the league summit.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Bitton; Rogic (McGregor 46) Armstrong; Mackay-Steven (Sinclair 68) Griffiths (Dembele 78), Christie

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Lustig, Roberts

    DUNDEE (5-4-1) Bain; Kerr, Gomis, O’Dea, Gadzhalov, Holt; Wighton, Hateley (El-Bakhtaoui 87), Vincent, Williams (O’Hara 64); Haber

    Not Used: Mitchell, Loy, Etxabeguren, Ross, Curran


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park

    Tuesday December 13, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 36)

    HAMILTON ACCIES…0

    THE gap at the summit of the SPFL Premiership between Celtic and the rest of the competition was stretched even wider as the Hoops recorded their 10th league win in a row with a 1-0 victory over Hamilton Accies.Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys dominated the encounter from start to finish and the comfortable win, secured by Leigh Griffiths’ first-half strike, saw the Celts go 11 points clear of their closest rivals, and Brendan Rodgers will be keen to see his team extend that further against Dundee at the weekend.

    The Lanarkshire side were decked out in their change kit of light blue with dark shorts for Celtic’s first home game since the League Cup final win over Aberdeen, but they found themselves drowning in a sea of green and white in a first-half dominated by the home team.Griffiths and Moussa Dembele, one of three changes from Friday’s win over Partick Thistle, linked up well in the early stages, with Patrick Roberts and Tom Rogic both lively in and around the crowded Accies penalty area, where most of the play focused.

    Celtic continuously weaved together a string of short passes round the visitors’ 18-yard box before trying to thread a killer final ball, but there was little reward for them in the first 25 minutes as Martin Canning’s team defended resolutely against relentless attacking.

    Playing with a back three, the champions had the numerical advantage in midfield and support in attack to break down Accies’ back five, but patience was required as the teams played out a game of tactical cat and mouse in the first-half.

    Persistence finally provided dividends for the champions, however, when the Hoops strikers combined to excellent effect to break the deadlock. The move started with Rogic’s excellent through pass to Dembele from midfield, setting the Frenchman up with just the keeper to beat from 18 yards.The 20-year-old cleverly spotted the run of Griffiths, however, and selflessly passed to his strike partner, who, after fending off a challenge from Grant Gillespie, calmly stroked the ball home for the opener.

    And the Celtic goal-machine could have grabbed his 12th of the season minutes later when he latched on to a looping pass over the Hamilton defence, but the forward dragged his effort just wide of the post, leaving the Bhoys with a slim but deserved one-goal advantage at the break.The visitors returned to the pitch early following the interval and started the second-half enthusiastically, with Ali Crawford’s powerful shot bringing out the first save of the game for Craig Gordon.

    Roberts’ wing wizardry was still a constant menace for the Bhoys, however, and his determination to reach the byline again and again continued to create problems for Hamilton, setting up Griffiths for an off-target shot before forcing a short back-pass from the Accies defence that almost let in Dembele.Stuart Armstrong then passed up a chance to add to the lead after good work from Dembele before intense pressing from Griffiths almost forced the visitors into conceding an own goal with another slack back-pass.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were relentless in their quest for a killer second goal and could have found it through Roberts’ trickery down the right again, but substitute Gary Mackay-Steven just failed to connect with the Englishman’s cross at the back post.Rogic was next to go close with a thunderous swerving effort that went inches wide of the right-hand post before he was scythed down by Gillespie at the other end, earning the Accies man a booking.

    Celtic’s appetite for goals continued but in the end the champions were forced to settle for the solitary first-half strike from Griffiths. However, the win was still enough to establish a commanding 11-point cushion at the top of the Premiership ahead of Saturday’s tussle with Dundee at Paradise.

    CELTIC (3-1-4-2): Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Simunovic; Brown; Roberts, Rogic, Armstrong, McGregor (Mackay-Steven 58); Griffiths, Dembele (Bitton 83).

    Not used: de Vries, Toure, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Christie

    HAMILTON (5-3-2) Woods; Gillespie, Sarris, Donati, McMann, Imrie; Docherty, McKinnon, Redmond (Longridge 80); Crawford (Cunningham 89), Bingham (Brophy 76).

    Not used: D’Acol, McGregor, Hughes, Thomson


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    SPFL Premiership

    Firhill Stadium

    Friday December 9, 2016

    CELTIC…4

    (Armstrong 39, 48, Griffiths 50, McGregor 81)

    PARTICK THISTLE…1

    (Lindsay 61)

    A TRIO of second-half goals ensured Celtic went into the weekend with an 11-point cushion at the top of the SPFL Premiership after they beat Partick Thistle 4-1 at Firhill.

    The champions held a one goal advantage at the interval thanks to Stuart Armstrong’s tap-in after a largely uneventful first-half but the game burst into life within three minutes of the restart when the midfielder fired in his and Celtic’s second of the game on 48 minutes.

    Hoops striker Leigh Griffiths, making his first start since the win over Ross County, then made it 3-0 with a cultured turn and finish two minutes later but the Jags gave themselves a lifeline when Liam Lindsay headed home from Kris Doolan’s free-kick after the hour.

    Sean Welsh then looked to have dragged his team right back into proceedings when he powered home another set-piece whipped into the Celtic box but the goal was chopped off for offside, giving Celtic a reprieve.

    The three points were finally secured by the champions with less than 10 minutes left on the clock when Callum McGregor powered Emilio Izaguirre’s excellently clipped cross past Tomas Cerny, sending the Bhoys support home happy and the Hoops well clear at the summit of the table.Celtic were made to work for their slender advantage in the first-half as they bossed possession but found themselves embroiled in a string of individual battles across the pitch.

    There was little subtlety about Thistle’s approach anytime they found space to attack in the first-half, with repeated highballs into Celtic’s box their most common mode of threatening the Hoops rearguard, leading to their first real chance after the half-hour mark when Erskine latched on to a defensive header from Mikael Lustig, only to fire wide with his left.Ziggy Gordon found himself in the referee’s book shortly after when he hauled down Gary Mackay-Steven, making his first start in eight months, from behind with 10 minutes left and things soon went from bad to worse for the Thistle man, when he was beaten on the turn by Griffiths in the build up to the game’s opener, which came moments later.

    The striker picked up a pass from Scott Brown 20 yards out on the left and instantly turned, heading for the byline. The hit-man then cut-back a powerful low cross into the six-yard box which Armstrong beat three Jags defenders to reach with his right, sending the ball into an empty net with a simple finish to give the Bhoys a one-goal lead at the interval.It took 40 minutes for Celtic to find the breakthrough in the first-half but only three to double their advantage after the restart, with Armstrong sending his team 2-0 up with an exquisite left-footed shot from distance.

    Cristian Gamboa won a free-kick for the Celts on right and Griffiths took the set-piece short, setting up Armstrong in space 20 yards out. The midfielder composed himself by taking a touch before angling a curling shot into the far corner to send the travelling support into raptures.The Bhoys fans had barely finished celebrating the strike when Celtic stormed three goals in front two minutes later after good work again from Gamboa won possession for the Hoops up the pitch as Thistle tried to gain their composure after taking centre.

    The full-back’s tackle fed the ball to Griffiths in the area, who showed strength and composure to roll his marker and open up space to shoot with his left, allowing him to smash a bending shot past Cerny from close range.Alan Archibald responded instantly with a double change, as did Celtic by introducing Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie for Rogic and Mackay-Steven, but it was the Jags who benefited after the switches when Lindsay grabbed a goal back for the home side, towering above the Hoops defence to loop a header past Craig Gordon after Kris Doolan’s free-kick.

    The Firhill side then thought they were right back into the game when Welsh headed in another free-kick moments later but the former Hibs ace was flagged offside.

    An action-packed spell of play continued when Roberts curled a shot over on 65 minutes before Griffiths was denied a second goal a minute later when the striker showed wonderful skill to beat a succession of Thistle players, only to see Cerny palm his effort wide.

    Moussa Dembele’s introduction for Roberts indicated the Celtic manager’s desire to properly secure the victory but there was a brief moment of concern when Thistle substitute Ade Azeez went down under a challenge from Craig Gordon on the edge of the box but the striker was booked for simulation.

    The game was finally put to bed in the final 10 minutes, however, when Izaguirre bore a hole into the Jags defence on the left flank and picked out McGregor with expert precision, allowing the midfielder to fire Celtic’s fourth goal into an empty net with his right.

    The goal gave the Hoops clear breathing space again and helped them leave Firhill with their 12th domestic win in a row, despite a late flurry of free-kicks and long balls into the box from the home side.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic (McGregor 58), Armstrong; Roberts (Dembele 75), Griffiths, Mackay-Steven (Christie 58)

    Not used: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Boyata,

    PARTICK THISTLE: (4-5-1) Cerny; Booth, Lindsay, Gordon, Barton; Elliot, Amoo (Edwards 57), Osman, Erskine (Lawless 57), Welsh; Doolan (Azeez 75)

    Not used: Stuckmann, Devine, Wilson, McDaid


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    UEFA Champions League

    Tuesday, December 6, 2016

    City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester

    MANCHESTER CITY…1

    (Iheanachho 8)

    CELTIC…1

    (Roberts 4)

    PATRICK Roberts returned to haunt his parent club Manchester City as Celtic produced a tremendous away performance to earn a full-deserved share of the spoils in their final UEFA Champions League match of the season.The 19-year-old broke the deadlock with a tricky run and finish inside the opening five minutes much to delight of the jubilant away fans.Kelechi Iheanacho quickly cancelled that out for Pep Guardiola’s side with a rasping drive, but it was the Scottish champions who had the better chances to win the match as they secured a point to finish their group campaign with a flourish.

    Erik Sviatchenko was restored to the team in the only change from the team that prevailed in Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 victory over Motherwell.The Danish internationalist replaced Kolo Toure in the heart of the backline, with the experienced defender dropping to the bench.Fresh from scoring in the win over the Steelmen, teenager Roberts started for the Bhoys against his parent club on the right of an attacking trident that includes Moussa Dembele and James Forrest.Backed by their vocal away Celtic support, the Bhoys took the game to big-spending English side, pressing them high up the pitch and it quickly paid dividends. Dembele closed down goalkeeper Willy Caballero and his errant clearance was collected by Roberts.

    He fed Rogic who forced Caballero into a smart save.And in the fourth minute, they stunned the home crowd by breaking the deadlock. Collecting the ball on the right, Roberts jinked his way past Gael Clichy and into the box before lashing into the far corner.

    It was a thoroughly-deserved lead but from their first foray forward, City showed their quality by levelling the match. Iheanacho was sent scampering through the middle and he finished ruthlessly beyond Craig Gordon. Celtic were almost undone by another through ball in the 11th minute as Pablo Zabaleta beat the offside trap and crossed for Iheanacho who was less clinical on this occasion.

    Undeterred by this flurry from the hosts, however, the Bhoys, with Scott Brown bossing proceedings in central midfield, continued their enterprising approach and a sublime pass from Stuart Armstrong put Dembele in the clear. His low effort was well saved by Caballero, though an incorrect offside flag would have ruled out a goal in any event.

    As play swung from end to end, Jozo Simunovic had to make a timely tackle on Iheanacho before some wonderful wing-play for Forrest created a great opening for Dembele.

    Deft footwork from the Scotland internationalist saw him evade a host of defenders and he still had the composure to spot Dembele’s run. The striker’s first shot was stopped by Caballero and he was only able to send the rebound into the side-netting.Dembele’s power and movement continued to cause problems for the home defence, and he brought another save, albeit a comfortable one, out of Caballero following Emilio Izaguirre’s inviting cross.

    At the other end, Gordon had to make a stunning reaction stop after Iheanacho had flicked on Bacary Sagna’s low delivery, and when the loose ball fell to Nolito, Izaguirre was on hand to blocking the Spaniard’s shot.

    An entertaining, action-packed half ended in controversy as Celtic looked to be denied a cast-iron penalty. Roberts, in a repeat of his goal, left Clichy for dead and advance into the area where he was clearly hauled back by the Frenchman. None of the officials were interested, though, much to the disbelief of Mikael Lustig, who saw yellow for his protests.

    Despite the understandable frustration at that decision, it couldn’t take the gloss of a mightily impressive first-half showing and Brendan Rodgers’ side looked to maintain that same tempo after the interval.

    They were dealt an early blow when Forrest was soon forced from the fray with a muscular injury. Gary Mackay-Steven took his place to make his first appearance of the season.After a shot lull in play, Celtic resumed the ascendency around the hour-mark. After Caballero had made an unconvincing attempt to collect Armstrong’s corner, Lustig lashed the ball back into the mix but no one could profit.And it was the Swede who the next chance fell to. Fastening onto a lovely pass from Rogic, he skipped past Clichy but couldn’t control his final shot, before Rogic himself blasted overMackay-Steven, for all of his lack of match practice, had looked lively since his introduction and he had a shot saved after a slick interchange of passing.

    A rapid City breakaway culminated in Nolito putting the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag cut short their celebrations.But back came the Bhoys, and it was them who carved out the clearer opportunities as the game entered its closing stages.Substitute Leigh Griffiths swept wide from Mackay-Steven’s pass. The roles were then reversed as Griffiths supplied the the former Dundee United man, who was thwarted by Caballero from an acute angle, with Celtic emerging with plenty of credit from a compelling contest.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic, Armstrong; Roberts, Dembele (Griffiths 73), Forrest (Mackay-Steven 50)

    Subs: De Vries, Toure, Bitton, Gamboa, McGregor

    MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3) Caballero; Sagna, Maffeo (Navas 62), Adarabioyo, Clichy; Zabaleta, Fernando, Gundogan; Nolito, Iheanacho, Sane

    Not Used: Gunn, Aguero, Stones, Otamendi, Tasende


    motherwell_vs_celtic


    Scottish Premiership

    Fir Park, Motherwell

    Saturday, December 3, 2016

    MOTHERWELL…3

    (Moult 3, 35, Ainsworth 71)

    CELTIC…4

    (McGregor 48, Roberts 70, Armstrong 72, Rogic 90)

    TOM Rogic’s sensational last-gasp goal saw Celtic complete a stunning second-half comeback against Motherwell at Fir Park to edge an extraordinary seven-goal thriller.

    The Hoops trailed 2-0 at the interval through Louis Moult’s double but they rallied superbly in the second half to draw level thanks to Callum McGregor and Patrick Roberts.

    Just moments after Roberts had equalised, however, Lionel Ainsworth put the hosts back in front but, remarkably, Stuart Armstrong restored parity again almost straight from the restart.

    Roared on by the travelling support, Brendan Rodgers’ side piled on the pressure in the closing stages and got their rewards as Rogic curled into the far corner, sealing an incredible victory which stretches their lead at the top of the table to 11 points with two games in hand.Kolo Toure made his appearance in around seven weeks in the only change to the side that triumphed against Aberdeen in the League Cup final six days ago.

    The central defender, who had not featured since the UEFA Champions League meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach on October 19 due to injury, replaced Erik Sviatchenko in the heart of the backline for the league clash in Lanarkshire.Before the match got underway a minute of silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters in memory of the Chapecoense football team following the tragic plane crash in Columbia earlier this week.

    Craig Gordon had not been beaten in his previous eight domestic matches but it only three minutes for that record to come to an end as the home side opened the scoring.

    A raking pass over from the top from former Celtic skipper Stephen McManus picked out Moult, who lobbed the ball over the Hoops goalkeeper with a first-time shot.Celtic responded with a wave of pressure, with Roberts embarking on some mazy runs, one of which almost led to an opening for Moussa Dembele, but the Steelemen held firm.

    At the other end, they remained a threat on the counter and Jozo Simunovic had to make an important block from Chris Cadden’s cutback.Although the Hoops were struggling to find their normal fluency, they still worked their way into a number of promising positions, with Roberts having a shot blocked and Forrest firing wide from Dembele’s return pass.

    Moult flicked Cadden’s cross wide of the far post before a slick interchange of passing from the Bhoys allowed Forrest to find some space in the box.

    His low delivery found Roberts but the winger was unable to release a shot under pressure from a host of Motherwell defenders.The lively Armstrong had a couple of attempts, one from which distance which whizzed inches wide, and Dembele was unable to get the ball under control when racing into the box as the champions’ frustrations continued.

    And 10 minutes before half-time, they found themselves two goals adrift. Ross MacLean delivered a pinpoint cross from the left and Moult was on hand to volley home at the far post.

    In order to spark a resurgence from his side, the manager made a tactical switch for the start of the second half, moving to a back-three, with Roberts and James Forrest providing the width.And there was an instant response as McGregor, on as a first-half substitute for Emilio Izaguirre, reduced arrears. Darting into the box, the midfielder collected a return pass from Dembele and lashed a shot into the corner.Playing with greater purpose and tempo, Celtic roared forward, with Rogic and Forrest coming closest as the Motherwell defence desperately threw themselves in front of a series of shots and Samson made a number of smart saves.

    Eventually the intense pressure paid off. Armstrong did well to reach the byline and his cross was headed in at the far post by Roberts.That was the cue for an astonishing 60 seconds as first Motherwell restored their lead through substitute Ainsworth, who volleyed in at the far post, and then Armstrong steered a shot beyond Samson to tie the game up at 3-3.It was all Celtic now as they launched wave after wave of attack and in the 90th minute they completed the turnaround.Collecting a pass in the box, Rogic cut inside and then found the far corner with a stunning finish to send the away support into raptures.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Toure, Izaguirre; Brown (McGregor 30); Rogic, Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 90 +1) Dembele, Forrest (Gamboa 90 +3)

    Not Used: De Vries, Mackay-Steven, Christie, Boyata

    MOTHERWELL (4-4-1-1) Samson; Tait (Bowman 90 +1) Heneghan, McManus, Hammell; Cadden (Ainsworth 69), Lasley, Clay, MacLean (McMillan 73); McDonald, Moult

    Not Used: Brill, Thomas, Ferguson, Campbell


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    Betfred League Cup final

    Hampden Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    CELTIC…3

    (Rogic 16, Forrest 37, Dembele 64 pen.)

    ABERDEEN…0

    CELTIC lifted the 100th major honour of its illustrious history today at Hampden after clinically putting Aberdeen to the sword in the League Cup final.

    Tom Rogic opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a sublime curling shot and James Forrest rifled in number two before half time after his electric speed had ripped the Dons defence part.

    And after the impressive Forrest had been felled in the box by Anthony O’Connor, Moussa Dembele confidently stroked home the resultant penalty for his 17th goal of the season to end the Pittodrie side’s resistance.

    The final whistle was the spark for jubilant celebrations on the pitch and in the stands as Brendan Rodgers claimed his first trophy as manager of the club and the champions secured the first silverware of the season.

    Patrick Roberts and Forrest came into the Celtic starting XI as the manager made two changes to the team that took on Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night.

    Roberts replaced Callum McGregor on the right of an attacking trident, while Forrest started on the left in place of the injured Scott Sinclair, the winger having picked up a knock just before half-time against the Catalan giants.

    And the duo saw plenty of the ball in the early exchanges as the Hoops bossed possession, probing for openings, while Aberdeen deployed plenty of personnel behind the ball and attempted to hit on the counter.

    Having fastened onto a pass from Roberts in the box, Forrest had a penalty appeal waved away after he went down under Shay Logan’s challenge, but it took until the 13th minute for the Bhoys to create their first sight of goal following a flowing move down the left.

    Stuart Armstrong picked out the overlapping run of Emilio Izaguirre and the Honduran’s inviting delivery was met powerfully by Dembele but Joe Lewis made a smart stop to push his header away, with Rogic firing the rebound over from 20 yards.

    Rarely had the Dons ventured forward but just moments after James Maddison had a shot from distance blocked by Erik Sviatchenko, Celtic raced up the park and broke the deadlock.

    Jozo Simunovic showed terrific determination to drive through the middle and find Rogic lurking on the angle of the box. The Australian internationalist cut inside onto his favoured left-foot and curled an exquisite shot into the far corner beyond Lewis’ despairing dive.

    The Pittodrie side replied with a glancing header from Andrew Considine following Maddison’s free-kick but Craig Gordon was equal to it.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to look the greater threat and only a last-gasp challenge by Ash Taylor prevented Dembele playing in Roberts after some fantastic foraging from Rogic to steal back possession.

    Following an incisive burst inside from Roberts, Forrest also shot inches wide from the edge of the box but the Scotland internationalist wasn’t to be denied as he quickly doubled the advantage.

    Collecting Rogic’s pass just inside the Aberdeen half, the wide-man drove at the heart of the Dons backline. His pace took him past Anthony O’Connor and into the box where his clinical finish left Lewis helpless.

    As the Celtic support rejoiced at their team’s commanding position, Derek McInnes’ side produced their most sustained spell of pressure as half-time approached, though Adam Rooney’ wayward shot from 18 yards was all they could muster.

    With Aberdeen having to adopt a more cavalier approach after the restart, there were greater gaps for the Hoops to exploit and Forrest and Dembele threatened to profit from Roberts’ header across goal.

    With Jonny Hayes more prominent on the left, the Dons had a brief flurry as they launched some balls into the box but aside from Kenny McLean’s header which flew over, the Celtic rearguard held firm.

    And just after the hour-mark, they effectively killed off the contest. Rogic spotted Forrest’s run and the winger reached the ball before O’Connor who sent him tumbling to the ground. Referee John Beaton pointed immediately to the spot and Dembele coolly dispatched the penalty, sending Lewis the wrong way.

    Stuart Armstrong spurned a late opportunity to inflict further punishment on the Pittodrie outfit when lashing inches wide, with Forrest again the architect, but that couldn’t dampen the delight among the players, management team and supporters as the showpiece ended in a deserved triumph for the champions.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Rogic (McGregor 77), Armstrong; Roberts (Bitton 66), Dembele, Forrest (Griffiths 90)

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Mackay-Steven

    ABERDEEN (4-1-2-3) Lewis; Logan, Taylor, O’Connor (Stockley 65) Considine; Jack; Shinnie, McLean; Hayes (McGinn 71), Rooney (Burns 79), Maddison

    Not Used: Alexander, Reynolds, Pawlett, Storey


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    UEFA Champions League

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday November 23, 2016

    CELTIC…0

    BARCELONA…2

    (Messi 24, 55 [pen])

    A CLINICAL and ruthless showing from Barcelona cancelled Celtic’s hopes of UEFA Champions League football after Christmas as the Catalan giants ran out 2-0 winners at Paradise.The Bhoys went into the game needing a win to take qualification for the knockout stages from Group C down to the last game against Manchester City, but goals either side of half-time from Lionel Messi, one from open play and another from the penalty spot, put paid to the best attempts of a spirited Hoops side.

    The final scoreline could have looked different had Moussa Dembele converted a header early in the second-half but the striker directed his effort straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen, much to his disappointment.Borussia Monchengladbach’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the other Group C match confirmed Celtic’s position of fourth in the group, ending their participation in Europe for this season.The prospect of facing Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final on Sunday will soon relieve the disappointment of defeat to Barcelona and their exit from Europe, however, as the Bhoys look to get their hands on the first piece of silverware up for grabs this season.

    In contrast to the feeling at full-time, a sense of optimism permeated Celtic Park before kick-off as the home fans roared the Bhoys on to an impressive start, showcasing a desire to pass and move while still be alert at the back.The visitors, for their part, started proceedings with characteristic patience but displayed their ability to pounce on the counter-attack, with Messi almost latching on to a clipped through-ball deep into the Celtic box before the playmaker sent a low shot wide inside the first 20 minutes.

    Celtic were then under pressure as the La Liga side began to shift through the gears, forcing Craig Gordon into his first save from their first corner, with the Hoops keeper reacting well at his near post to palm Andre Gomes’ flick behind.Two minutes later Barca’s patience paid off and the Bhoys fell behind. The Catalan side strung together a series of passes before Neymar curled an expert ball over the Celts backline to Messi again, and this time the Argentinian made no mistake, rattling a shot first-time past Gordon at the near post.

    Celtic remained positive in the wake of conceding but Barcelona’s ability to read their passing intentions, while being lightening quick in attack, made it difficult to mount any concerted momentum. The Bhoys did have a great chance to draw level when Moussa Dembele cut on to his right 20 yards out and shot at goal but ter Stegen had the effort covered.Barcelona’s clinical counter-attacks then looked to have doubled their advantage before half-time when Messi clipped a cross for Suarez in the box but Gordon made a stunning stop with his right hand to keep it 1-0 at the interval.

    The Hoops were forced into their first change at half-time as James Forrest replaced Scott Sinclair, who picked up a knock just minutes before the break. Their enthusiasm to claim an equaliser never abated, however, as a mazy run and shot from Callum McGregor signalled their intent as the game got back underway.Dembele could have equalised moments later when Forrest picked the striker out in the middle with a perfect cross, but he directed his header straight into the arms of ter Stegen.Punishment from Barcelona was swift when a penalty was awarded to the visitors just a minute later at the other end after Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Suarez in the box. Messi stepped up and slotted home from 12 yards to make it 2-0.

    Barca’s two-goal cushion allowed the visitors to take their foot off the gas, while Celtic brought on Nir Bitton and Patrick Roberts for Tom Rogic and McGregor as they sought a way back into the game.The referee was then under serious pressure to send off Neymar after the Brazilian had previously been booked for an off the ball push on Lustig before going in strong on the defender again after he evaded the attacker’s challenge. Play was waved on, however, incensing the home support.The forward was then replaced by Arda Turan, and he further frustrated the Celtic fans by taking the better part of a minute to leave the pitch.

    Belief in getting a goal was still evident among the Celts players, however, who, to their credit, never stopped running, but Barca’s class was equally obvious, with a neat flick from Messi to avoid a lunging challenge from Scott Brown at the touchline encapsulating their ability.The La Liga side could have clinched their third of the night as the game approached its conclusion, but Suarez hit the post after a trademark run and pass from Messi.

    The result leaves Celtic bottom of their group with one game left but with no hope of qualifying for the Europa League by clinching third place, even with a win over Manchester City in the final game, due to Borussia Monchengladbach’s superior head-to-head with the Scottish champions and the German side’s 1-1 draw with City.Sunday’s clash with Aberdeen in the Scottish League Cup final will now consume the Bhoys’ attentions as they look to capture the first silverware of the season at Hampden and continue their fine domestic form.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Armstrong, Rogic (Bitton 64); McGregor (Roberts 71), Dembele, Sinclair (Forrest 46).

    Not used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Henderson

    BARCELONA: (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Roberto, Mascherano, Pique (Marlon72), Alba (Digne 65); Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar (Turan 76).

    Not used: Cillessen, Suarez, Rafinha, Alcacer


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    SPFL Premiership

    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

    Friday November 18, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Armstrong 44)

    KILMARNOCK…0

    A SOLITARY but clinical first-half strike from Stuart Armstrong propelled Celtic 13 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership as the Hoops overcame Kilmarnock 1-0 at Rugby Park.On a freezing cold night in Ayrshire it was the midfielder’s well-placed effort on the stroke of half-time that warmed the hearts of the travelling support and sent the Bhoys back up the M77 with another three points and their seventh consecutive clean sheet in Scotland.

    The Bhoys were powerful in attack in the opening 45 minutes and water tight at the back in the second, ensuring their unbeaten domestic record remains intact with their ninth win on the bounce.With half his squad having travelled to all ends of the globe in the recent international break, Brendan Rodgers decided to opt for freshness for his side’s trip to Rugby Park, utilising only four of his stars who had represented their respective countries in the past 10 days.

    The Scotland trio of Craig Gordon, Scott Brown and James Forrest all started alongside Moussa Dembele, while there was also a space for Dedryck Boyata, who made his first start since the Scottish Cup quarter-final in April as the champions donned their new pink away strip for the first time this season, warming up a cold night in Ayrshire.The Belgian slotted into defence alongside Mikael Lustig, Erik Sviatchenko and stand-in left-back Callum McGregor but the focus was largely at the other end as the Hoops bossed the opening stages.

    Sviatchenko flashed a header just over the bar from the first corner of the game before Forrest forced Jamie MacDonald to save at full stretch as the winger took aim with his left from the edge of the box. Just as the Hoops were pressing for the opener, however, Killie almost took the lead against the run of play when striker Flo Bojaj met Greg Taylor’s near-post cross but he couldn’t direct his glanced header on target.Celtic’s pressure looked to have finally paid off shortly before half-time when Dembele blasted a close-range shot into the net after a knock down from Scott Brown but the Hoops skipper was flagged offside.

    The home side’s resistance was finally undone, however, when the break of the ball fell kindly for James Forrest 20 yards out. The winger picked out Dembele on the edge of the box and he threaded a neat pass into the path of Armstrong, who placed a sweet shot past Macdonald to give the Bhoys the lead at the interval.That scoreline could have ;been doubled just seconds after the restart when McGregor burst down the left channel and into the box but his shot was saved and Sinclair sliced the rebound over.

    A determined Celtic then brought out the best in MacDonald again when he doubled over backwards to palm away Patrick Roberts’ curling shot after having raced to the edge of his area to gather a pass that was cleared by the Killie defence.The scare sparked the home team into life as they pushed the Hoops back down the flanks, focusing on McGregor on Celtic’s left and making room to cross on a number of occasions. The fresh legs and more physical presence of substitute Nathan Tyson also added weight to Killie’s attack but the Bhoys soon followed suit, switching Patrick Roberts with Tom Rogic.

    Lee Clark’s team remained largely in the ascendancy as the game entered the final 20 minutes but for all their attacking intent there was little in the way of an end product, owed largely to Celtic’s defensive tenacity and organisation.The introduction of Souleymane Coulibaly with just over 10 minutes left further indicated the home team’s desire to claim something from match but the forward, the last Kilmarnock player to score against Celtic, could do little to stop his team falling to their third defeat in a row at the hands of the Bhoys as the champions saw out the final minutes to hold on to their 1-0 lead and go a further three points clear at the top of the table.

    And although not the scoreline may not have as emphatic as Brendan Rodgers may have wanted, the result maintained the Hoops’ winning momentum as they now focus on the visit of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, McGregor; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Bitton 85); Roberts (Rogic 66), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Gamboa, Toure, Christie

    KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; Hendrie, Boyle, Boyd, Taylor; Dicker (McFadzean 89), Smith; Frizzell, McKenzie, Jones (Coulibaly 78); Bojaj (Tyson 58)


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday November 5, 2016

    CELTIC…3

    (Sinclair 48, Griffiths 63, Rogic 83)

    INVERNESS CT…0

    A TRIO of second-half strikes from Celtic gave Brendan Rodgers’ side a deserved win over Inverness Caley Thistle at Paradise in the SPFL Premiership.After a frustrating first-half that saw Mikael Lustig forced off with injury inside 15 minutes, the champions came back out for the second-half fired up and took the lead through Scott Sinclair’s half volley after the restart.

    Leigh Griffiths added a second with a tap-in after Callum McGregor had been scythed down by Greg Tansey, who was red-carded for the offense after the goal, before substitute Tom Rogic capped off an ultimately productive afternoon for the Bhoys with a low finish at the game approached its conclusion.

    The result left the Celts 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership ahead of the international break and gave them their sixth clean sheet in a row in Scotland.

    There was a feeling of optimism around the ground ahead of kick-off after Brendan Rodgers named an ultra-attacking line-up, with four changes from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.

    Griffiths, Patrick Roberts, Jozo Simunovic and McGregor were all brought into the side in place of James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre as the Celts lined up 3-4-3.The Bhoys started full of attacking intent but that optimism soon turned to anger when Lustig was forced off after a crunching tackle by Josh Meekings inside 15 minutes.

    The Caley Thistle defender went in straight-legged on the Swedish full-back, catching him flush on the foot but the tackle went unpunished and Celtic were forced to rethink their approach.Stuart Armstrong dropped into an unfamiliar role as auxiliary right-back while Emilio Izaguirre replaced the injured Lustig, with the sickening challenge on the Celts defender leaving a sour taste in the mouth among the home support.

    The Celtic fans were further aggrieved by the referee’s patience with Inverness’ robust challenges but the Hoops battled on and almost took the lead midway through the first-half when Leigh Griffiths connected with an excellent pass from McGregor but Owain Fon Williams tipped the volley off the bar and over.

    Inverness’ dogged resistance continued to thwart the Hoops’ momentum as half-time approached but the champions persisted with their patient passing style and it almost paid off when Izaguirre found Armstrong free in the box with a curling cross but the midfielder sent his header wide just the keeper to beat.

    With just two minutes to go until half-time, Greg Tansey finally had his close attention to Scott Brown penalised with a yellow card after fouling the Celtic captain in the centre of the pitch, before Scott Sinclair almost broke the deadlock with a mazy run and shot, but fired his effort over from inside the box.

    The Hoops man atoned for his miss almost instantly after the break, however, when Celtic re-emerged unchanged and went back on the hunt. Good closing down from Griffiths won the ball back for the Bhoys and he passed to Brown, who laid off a lovely ball to McGregor in a central area outside the box.

    The midfielder then clipped a delightful pass into the path of Sinclair who let it bounce up in front of him just inside the box before smashing a volley into the far corner to give Celtic a deserved lead.

    The Hoops formed a near impenetrable wall around the Inverness box in the wake of the goal, pinning the visitors back as they sought to add to the advantage and they soon had their wish.

    Inverness made a double switch on the hour mark after Nir Bitton replaced Scott Brown and the Bhoys capitalised as Richie Foran’s side acclimatised to the changes.

    Jake Mulraney and Alex Fisher barely had time to get into position when McGregor picked up the ball in midfield again and got off an excellent pass to Dembele before being hacked down by Tansey after the ball was away.

    The ref played advantage, allowing Celtic’s French striker to arch a shot to the far corner, which came back off the post straight to the feet of Griffiths, who tapped in easily to net his ninth goal of the season and first in six appearances.Things then went from bad to worse for Inverness when Tansey was shown a second yellow for his foul on McGregor and ordered off, reducing them to 10 men.

    The Highlanders must have breathed a sigh of relief when Brendan Rodgers then brought off Moussa Dembele with 20 minutes left but the respite was short lived, when they saw he was being replaced by Tom Rogic.

    The Australian’s talent for taking the ball on the turn in tight spaces was the last thing a beleaguered Inverness backline would have wanted to see and he soon set up Roberts 20 yards out with a neat flick but the visitors blocked the shot.The playmaker then finished off the afternoon for the champions in style when he fastened on to a fine cut-back from the impressive Armstrong, and rifled a low shot into the net, despite the best efforts of Fon Williams to make it 3-0.

    Chances continued to come for the Celts in the dying minutes, with Izaguirre unfortunate not to make it 4-0 in stoppage time, but the trio of strikes in the second-half proved enough for the Bhoys to run out comfortable winners, establishing an impressive 10 point lead at the top of the table.

    CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lustig (Izaguirre 14), Simunovic, Sviatchenko; Armstrong, Brown (Bitton 61), McGregor, Griffiths; Roberts, Dembele (Rogic 70), Sinclair

    Not used: De Vries, Gamboa, Christie, Forrest

    INVERNESS CT (4-2-1-3) Fon Williams; McKay, Warren, Meekings, Polworth (Cole 78); Horner, Tansey; Vigurs; Draper, Doumbouya (Fisher 62), King (Mulraney 62)

    Not used: Mackay, Boden, Sutherlan


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    UEFA Champions League

    Borussia-Park

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH…1

    (Stindl 32)

    CELTIC…1

    (Dembele pen. 76)

    MOUSSA Dembele’s late penalty secured a share of the spoils for Celtic against Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany to keep their UEFA Champions League hopes alive.

    The striker was fouled by Julian Korb in the box as he raced on to a pass in the box. And after referee Manuel De Sousa produced the red card for the Borussia player, the Celtic striker picked himself up and calmly sent goalkeeper Yann Sommer the wrong way from the spot.

    The Hoops had earlier trailed to Lars Stindl’s first-half volley but they had also come close themselves to opening the scoring when Scott Sinclair struck the post with a curling shot.

    And in the closing stages, they almost capitalised on their numerical advantage and recorded a famous victory when substitute Callum McGregor spurned a late chance.

    However, the draw, which leaves Brendan Rodgers’ side on two points in Group C means there is still a mathematical possibility of them reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

    Cristian Gamboa came into the starting XI in place of Jozo Simunovic as Brendan Rodgers made one change from the team that triumphed against Aberdeen on Saturday. That switch saw Mikael Lustig move across into central defence alongside Erik Sviatchenko, with Gamboa taking over the Swede’s place at right-back.In front of a capacity crowd in the impressive Borussia-Park, the home side made the early running, forcing a number of corners, and Emilio Izaguirre was forced to make a vital block to thwart the lively Thorgan Hazard as he pulled the trigger.

    But the Hoops survived this opening spell and gradually grew into the game as they started to stroke the ball around the park and probe for openings.As the Bhoys began to push further forward, however, the German side were able showcase their counter-attacking threat, and Gordon has to race from his line and block Tobias Strobl’s shot after he had raced on to a return pass.But it was the Scottish champions who came the closest to the opening goal just beyond the midway point of the half as Scott Sinclair curled a shot off the inside of the post from 18 yards, with Sommer rooted to the spot. Unfortunately, for Celtic the ball span to safety and into the grateful arms of Sommer.

    The Hoops’ pressing game was also beginning to have an impact on proceedings and Dembele looked to be harshly penalised for a foul as Tom Rogic prepared to bear down on the boxBut just as Celtic were enjoying their most productive period of the game, they were clinically punished at other end as Borussia broke the deadlock. Racing clear down the right Hazard dug out a cross from the byline and it dropped perfectly for Stindl who hammered home a volley from close-range, leaving Gordon with no chance.

    That was a severe setback for Brendan Rodgers’ men but they responded by producing the best move of the match to slice through the home defence. After a series of one-touch passes, Dembele had several options as he approached the edge of the box. He elected to pick out Forrest who went down under Stindl’s challenge inside the area, but the referee was unmoved.Celtic continued to play with enterprise after the interval and only some diligent defending from the hosts prevented Armstrong from playing in Sinclair after James Forrest’s incisive pass.

    But as the game opened up, Stindl, Fabian Johnson and Christoph Kramer spurned good chances forAndre Schubert’s side to double the lead.Sinclair had a shot charged down for the Bhoys after being played in by Dembele and then the visitors had a lucky escape when Hahn struck the post.But with game remaining at 1-0, Celtic were still a force to be reckoned with and the ever-dangerous Dembele stung Sommer’s palms with a ferocious shot. And with 15 minutes left on the clock, a compelling contest took another dramatic twist. Dembele was sent tumbling in the box by Korb. The referee sent off the full-back and Dembele took full advantage from the spot.

    And as the clock ticked down, it was the Hoops who came closest to securing maximum reward as McGregor was supplied by Patrick Roberts in the box, but he couldn’t find the target from a wonderful position.As the final whistle blew, however, the great ovation from the travelling support was an indicator of the courageous performance from the Scottish champions, whose hopes of European football after Christmas remain intact.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3) Gordon; Gamboa (Henderson 85), Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Brown; Armstrong, Rogic (McGregor 69); Forrest (Roberts 60), Dembele, Sinclair

    Not Used: Bitton, Ciftci, Boyata, de Vries

    BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (4-1-3-2) Sommer; Korb, Strobl, Vestergaard, Elvedi; Kramer; Johnson, Stindl, Wendt; Hazard (Herrmann 70), Hahn

    Not Used: Sippel, Dahoud, Schulz, Hofmann, Jantschke


    aberdeenvceltic

    SPFL Premiership

    Pittodrie stadium, Aberdeen

    Saturday October 29, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Rogic 24)

    ABERDEEN…0

    A SENSATIONAL curling effort from Tom Rogic propelled Celtic to a 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie today, sending the champions 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership after 10 games.The Australian playmaker wreaked havoc through the Dons midfield and backline all day, and could have had a hat-trick were it not for the saves of Joe Lewis in goal, but the midfielder’s cultured finish from 20 yards in the first-half proved enough for Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys and gave them a deserved victory over Derek McInnes’ team.

    The result capped off a fine week for the champions that started with victory over Rangers in the League Cup semi-final and ended with a convincing win over their closest challengers in the league ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.Some inconsistent officiating from referee Steven McLean characterised the opening stages of a match that started scrappily, with Erik Sviatchenko booked for his first tackle while a string of Dons players went unpunished for similarly lunging challenges.

    Aberdeen had the early momentum, pushing Celtic back down the flanks but the Bhoys, as they have been so often lately, were dangerous on the counter-attack, with Moussa Dembele an early threat through the middle.The Frenchman was one of six changes made to the team from Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Ross County and after eventually settling into the match it was one of the other fresh faces who missed that victory who put the Hoops in front on 24 minutes.The Celts had possession deep in Dons territory and floated a cross in to the box that was cleared by Shay Logan but it fell straight to Rogic, who quickly steadied himself 20 yards out and cut across the ball with his left to curl a sweet volley into the net past Joe Lewis and give the champions the lead.

    Play swung from end to end after the goal as both teams continued to struggle to stamp any real authority on proceedings but the Dons had their chances to get back into the game as half-time approached.The marauding runs of Emilio Izaguirre, who retained his spot in the team in place of the injured Kieran Tierney, left space for Jonny Hayes to attack and he capitalised on that, sending a string of dangerous crosses into the Hoops box for his team-mates.Andrew Considine was the first beneficiary, sending a header over, before Sviatchenko did just enough to stop Ryan Jack making a clean connection at the front post. The biggest chance for the Dons came from the same avenue but Jozo Simunovic did well to block Considine’s back-post volley.

    Celtic were guilty of missing their own chance to go further ahead before the break, however, when Rogic supplied an excellent pass for Stuart Armstrong in the box but the midfielder didn’t make a clean connection.The Bhoys dominated from the restart, forcing Aberdeen into a double switch less than 10 minutes into the second-half as their frontline failed to influence proceedings. James Maddison and Adam Rooney came on for Niall McGinn and Ryan Jack but it was the Hoops who remained on top and could have been out of sight before the hour mark if it wasn’t for the saves of Lewis in the Dons goal.

    The Englishman was at full stretch to tip Scott Sinclair’s goal-bound effort over the bar before saving twice from Rogic as the Australian continued to probe and create opportunities for his team.Aberdeen were not out, however, and it took a perfectly timed tackle from Simunovic to stop Hayes from pulling the trigger with just Gordon to beat as the game became stretched again with 20 minutes left.Brendan Rodgers recognised the danger and withdrew Rogic from the action, replacing him with the more defensive-minded Nir Bitton before refreshing attack with Patrick Roberts, who took over from James Forrest on the right.

    The gradually growing tensions evident from kick-off between the teams finally boiled over when Scott Brown and Jonny Hayes clashed near the dugout, with both men booked for their part in the mêlée that ensued.Both teams made their final throw of the dice as a fiery contest approached its conclusion, with Cristian Gamboa coming on for Mikael Lustig and Jayden Stockley replacing Wes Burns for Aberdeen.The home side piled men forward in search of the equaliser, buoyed by the announcement of five minutes added time and they passed up a great chance to equalise when another Hayes cross was missed by the Celts defence but Maddison couldn’t control his volley from 12 yards.

    The Dons again could have nicked an equaliser with a pair of late free-kicks, one of which cannoned off the head of Erik Sviatchenko under pressure from Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis but two strong hands from Craig Gordon saved the day for the Bhoys and earned them a deserved three points, putting them well clear of the competition in the SPFL Premiership.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Gamboa 78), Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Roberts 75), Rogic (Bitton 70) Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used:, Griffiths, , De Vries, O’Connell, McGregor

    ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Lewis; Considine, Reynolds, O’Connor, Logan; Shinnie, Jack (Maddison 54); McGinn (Rooney 54), McLean, Hayes; Burns (Stockley 83)


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    Scottish Premiership

    Global Energy Arena, Dingwall

    Wednesday, October 26, 2016

    ROSS COUNTY…0

    CELTIC…4

    (Roberts 3, Armstrong 83, Sinclair 90 +2, Dembele 90 +3)

    CELTIC stretched their lead at the top of the table to seven points, with a game in hand, after an ultimately emphatic 4-0 victory away to Ross County.

    Patrick Roberts opened the scoring for the champions inside three minutes with a fine solo goal and the winger had a hand in the three other goals for the Bhoys – though they had to wait seven minutes from time to double their advantage and fend off some spirited resistance from the Staggies, who had hit the post through Andrew Davies.

    Roberts showed his quality in the final third by picking out Stuart Armstrong in the box with a precise pass and the midfielder made no mistake.

    And after Roberts’ drive had taken a wicked deflection deep into stoppage time, Scott Sinclair was on hand to bury the rebound.

    With the clock running down, there was still time for Roberts to jink his way to the byline and cut the ball back for Dembele who swept into the net.

    Emilio Izaguirre made his first league start of the season for Celtic as Brendan Rodgers reshuffled his pack.  The inclusion of the Honduran internationalist was one of eight changes to the Hoops team that lined up in Sunday’s League Cup semi-final victory over Rangers.

    Cristian Gamboa, Armstrong, Callum McGregor, Roberts, Ryan Christie, Liam Henderson and Leigh Griffiths also came into the side. Those to make way were Jozo Simunovic, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Nir Bitton, James Forrest, Tom Rogic, Sinclair and Dembele, with the latter four named among the substitutes.

    Despite the alterations, the Bhoys were straight into their stride and opened the scoring with less than three minutes on the clock.

    Armstrong fed a pass into the Roberts and the English youngster drove at the heart of the County backline, dummied his way past one defender and then coolly picked his spot in the corner.

    The home side mounted a spirited response, with Ryan Dow shooting over from an acute angle and Craig Gordon blocking from Liam Boyce after the striker had burst through on goal.

    Celtic soon resumed the initiative, however, pinning the Staggies back with crisp passing and clever movement, and Armstrong brought out a save, albeit a comfortable one, from Fox after shooting from an acute angle.

    The lively Armstrong was then fouled on the edge of the box after aiming to collect a return from Henderson, with the latter curling the resultant free-kick over.

    Griffiths got his first sight of goal in the 19th minute after he was picked out by Roberts. Driving into the box, he pulled the trigger but his final attempt was deflected into the side-netting by Paul Quinn.

    As the champions continued to probe at the home rearguard, Roberts shot straight at Fox from distance and the former Celtic youth keeper came to his side’s rescue again, with a superb reaction save from Christie’s shot after some positive play from Henderson down the left.

    Although Brendan Rodgers’ side were dominating possession, the hosts were still offering a threat on the break.

    And after a Celtic move down the left broke down, Jim McIntyre’s side countered quickly, switching the ball from the ball to Michael Gardyne on the left and his effort wasn’t far away from creeping inside the far post.

    Up the other end, Henderson clipped a ball through for Griffiths who saw his powerful drive tipped round the post by Fox, much to the hit-man’s frustration.

    Growing in belief at Celtic’s failure to add to their tally, the Highlanders finished the half with a decent spell of pressure, with Martin Woods and Andrew Davies having efforts on goal, but the visitors held on to their lead.

    Looking to regain their control of proceedings, the visitors made an urgent start to the second half. Within a matter of seconds, Armstrong almost forced his way through on goal, before Henderson tested Fox with a low shot from distance.

    But Celtic then had to survive a couple of scares as the Staggies, determined to not let the Hoops have it their own way, surged forward.

    First, Woods slipped when ready to run through on goal and then Gordon had to make a superb reaction save when Burke lashed goalwards from close-range.

    Just before the hour mark, Sviatchenko headed narrowly wide from Henderson’s corner as both teams started to make changes ahead of the crucial closing stages.

    And the necessity for the Hoops to add a second goal was underlined when Davies headed onto the post and Gordon had to react quickly to push Marcus Fraser’s shot round the post. The Celtic shot-stopper also saw yellow when fouling Boyce as the forward chased a ball over the top.

    But Celtic’s class eventually told as they moved up the gears in the final 15 minutes, helped by the introduction of Sinclair and Dembele.

    The killer second goal arrived eight minutes from time. Roberts was the architect, smuggling a pass through for Armstrong who rifled into the corner.

    As County committed more men forward in desperation, the Bhoys ruthlessly inflicted further punishment as Sinclair atoned for an earlier glaring miss by converting Roberts’ deflected shot.

    And in the last action before the final whistle, Roberts worked his way into the box and spotted Dembele, who continued his prolific run of form to send the jubilant travelling support home happy.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa, Lustig, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Armstrong, McGregor; Roberts, Christie (Dembele 58), Henderson (Sinclair 63); Griffiths (Bitton 89)

    Not Used: De Vries, Rogic, O’Connell, Forrest

    ROSS COUNTY (4-4-1-1) Fox; Fraser, Quinn (McEveley 60), Davies, Van Der Weg; Burke (Dingwall 70), McShane, Woods, Gardyne;  Dow;  Boyce

    Not Used: McCarey, Morrison, Routis, Cikos


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    Scottish League Cup semi-final

    Hampden Park, Glasgow

    Sunday October 23, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Dembele 87)

    RANGERS…0

    MOUSSA Dembele’s cultured close-range finish in the dying minutes of the Glasgow derby League Cup semi-final gave Celtic a deserved 1-0 win over Rangers and booked Brendan Rodgers’ side’s place in the first final of the season.After almost 45 minutes of relentless pressure in the second-half, the Hoops’ determination and perseverance finally paid off with three minutes left on the clock when the young Frenchman applied a deft finish to substitute Leigh Griffiths’ cut-back.

    The goal was a piece of individual brilliance from Dembele but capped off true team performance from the Celts on a day where their belief in attacking football was eventually rewarded with a berth in the final against Aberdeen at the end of November.The match had all the usual fervour, colour and sound of a Glasgow derby and started with Celtic coming out the blocks at full speed, looking to influence proceedings early on with their quick passing style and width down the flanks.

    An early through ball from Nir Bitton to Kieran Tierney into the left channel indicated the Hoops’ game plan but the Ibrox side had their own share of possession on the wings as both sides battled for supremacyBrendan Rodgers’ team played much of the opening 15 minutes on the counter-attack but that approach still provided dividends, with Tom Rogic influential in midfield, springing the Bhoys’ moves forward.

    The Australian was unlucky to see an early shot deflected out for a corner before the first big decision of the match was made when Rangers’ Barrie McKay was booked for a dive in the box under a challenge from Jozo Simunovic, Celtic’s only change for the match from their mid-week European clash.Scott Sinclair could have then opened the scoring for the Hoops moments later when a wonderful through pass from Moussa Dembele sent the winger scarpering into the box unmarked but Matt Gilks saved well with his legs.

    Gilks then almost gave the opener away when his poor touch in the six yard box gifted the ball to Rogic but the midfielder took a touch with his right before shooting, allowing Gilks to get back on his feet and make the save.Rangers gradually grew more into the game but rarely threatened the Celtic penalty area. Rogic meanwhile was a constant threat with his ability to take the ball on the turn regularly bamboozling the Ibrox side’s midfield and he was unfortunate with another curling effort just before the half hour mark which crept past the post after another excellent sprint forward.

    As the game approached half-time Celtic began to dominate possession and pepper the Rangers penalty area with crosses and passes, with Scott Brown breaking up any bid to counter-attack from the Ibrox side. The jittery Rangers rearguard held on, however, with the teams locked in a goalless stalemate at the interval.All that looked to have changed within minutes of the restart when Erik Sviatchenko placed a header into the bottom corner after Sinclair’s pinpoint cross but he was adjudged to have fouled his marker and the effort was cancelled out.

    Sinclair was then denied by Gilks again after gathering a one-two with Rogic as the Bhoys roared forward on wave after wave of attack.Rangers responded with a piercing counter-attack that saw Simunovic block Jason Holt’s goal-bound shot brilliantly before Craig Gordon did well to gather a swerving effort from McKay that spun through a mass of bodies in the Celtic penalty area.Stuart Armstrong’s introduction in place of Bitton after 60 minutes gave Rogic more licence to roam around the Rangers penalty box while also injecting more pace into the Hoops central midfield area as the Celts sought a way to break the deadlock.

    The Bhoys again went agonisingly close to doing that again when Brown won a free-kick 20 yards out for his team but Sinclair’s curling set-piece smashed the cross bar and fell kindly for Gilks to gather.More attacking options were added to the Celts frontline when Leigh Griffiths came on for Rogic as the one-way traffic continued. The Edinburgh man got straight into the action, cutting back a low cross into the Rangers box from the right but there were no takers.

    Celtic continued to spurn chances as Forrest and Dembele sent efforts wide of goal as time ebbed away and Rangers retreated further back but the fresh legs of Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner forced the Hoops to be cautious at the back as they relentlessly threw bodies forward.The legs of Gilks again thwarted the Bhoys as Armstrong’s angled shot was deflected away but the pressure eventually paid off for the Scottish champions when a moment of pure class from Dembele shattered Rangers’ resistance with three minutes left.

    An arching long pass was cannoned forward from the Hoops defence to the feet of Griffiths and the striker made a direct run for the box. Dembele also powered into the area and he was expertly picked out by Griffiths’ curled cut-back, which the Frenchman finished with aplomb, stroking the ball through the legs of Gilks with the instep of his trailing leg as he ran towards the front post.It was an exquisite finish from the striker and gave Celtic a deserved lead that was enough to book their place in the final against Aberdeen on Sunday November 27.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (Armstrong 63), Brown; Forrest (Gamboa 90), Rogic (Griffiths 70), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used: De Vries, Toure, Roberts, McGregor

    RANGERS (4-3-3) Gilks; Hodson, Hill, Kiernan, Wallace; Windass (Garner 70), Halliday, Holt; Tavernier, Miller (Waghorn 70), McKay (Dodoo 78)

    Not used: Foderingham, Crooks, Senderos, O’Halloran,


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    UEFA Champions League

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    CELTIC…0

    BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH…2

    (Stindl 57, Hahn 77)

    SECOND-HALF goals from Lars Stindl and Andre Hahn consigned Celtic to a 2-0 home UEFA Champions League defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach, denting the Hoops’ hopes of extending their European adventure beyond Christmas.Stindl fired in the opening goal 12 minutes following the restart after Kolo Toure had been dispossessed on the byline and Hahn sealed the victory for the visitors after capitalising on another defensive error from the Bhoys.

    After that there was no way back for Brendan Rodgers’ side, who will be targeting redemption in the second match of the double-header over in Gladbach in two weeks.Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the Celtic team that started in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Motherwell, with Mikael Lustig, Toure, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic all coming back into the side at the expense of Cristian Gamboa, Jozo Simunovic, Liam Henderson and Stuart Armstrong. And that meant the Hoops went with the same starting XI that earned a share of the spoils in the six-goal home thriller against Manchester City at the end of last month.

    Amid another thunderous atmosphere in Paradise, the match began at a frenzied pace, with both teams pressing furiously all over the pitch.

    Celtic made their first foray forward inside the first two minutes when Moussa Dembele picked out the run of Scott Sinclair but the winger’s low shot from an acute angle was smothered by goalkeeper Yann Sommer.But the visitors, lining up in an adventurous formation, were also looking dangerous and Toure had to make a timely challenge on striker Andre Hahn as he bore down on goal following an incisive pass from Lars Stindl.

    Some wonderful closing down from the Hoops earned them a free-kick around 30 yards from goal and also saw Christoph Kramer collect a yellow card. Bitton took the free-kick and, although his low shot looked to be heading wide, Sommer made sure it went beyond the far post.Play was flowing from end to end, and the next sight of goal came Borussia’s way. Left-back Oscar Wendt picked up the ball on the left and teed-up Ibrahima Traore, whose whipped shot was brilliantly saved by Craig Gordon at his far post.

    Celtic’s No.1 had to be at his best again in the 27th minute to parrying a ferocious drive from Jonas Hofmann as Andre Schubert’s side showed just why they had been such a consistent force in the Bundesliga over recent years, moving the ball around the pitch with pace and precision.And after the Hoops rearguard had misjudged a long ball over the top, Gordon was once more called into action, pushing Stindl’s drive over the bar after the frontman had been played in by elusive Stindl.

    Toure was to fore as Celtic had to survive some sustained periods of pressure and it was the 35-year-old’s alertness that prevented Tobias Strobl getting a clear run on goal.Brendan Rodgers’ side were doing their upmost to gain supremacy but they were finding it hard to unlock the Borussia backline. That was until 60 seconds before the break when a sublime pass from Rogic sent Sinclair scampering into the box. The winger elected to shoot from an acute angle but he couldn’t keep his effort down.

    Celtic started the second-half with more poise and purpose, enjoying more prolonged periods of possession – and the openings started to follow. Lustig’s cross from the right was headed wide by Sinclair and the same player also fastened onto Dembele’s pass but the chance fizzled out as a host of Monchengladbach defenders scrambled back.

    Just as the home side looked to be establishing an element a control, the German side broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Attempting to shepherd the ball out for a goa-kick, Toure was dispossessed by Hahn, whose interception dropped invitingly for Stindl, who lashed the ball under Gordon.

    The Scottish champions tried to muster a rapid response, with Bitton drilling wide after a clever pass from Rogic, though Sviatchenko had also to make a brilliant last-ditch challenge on Hahn moments earlier.Roared on by the home crowd, Celtic battled forward in their quest to find a way back into the match, and Rogic saw a shot deflected narrowly wide the edge of the box.

    Within an eight-minute period, Callum McGregor, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths were introduced by Brendan Rodgers to add some impetus to the Hoops attack.But instead it was the visitors who doubled their lead. Toure’s pass was intercepted by Stindl. Hahn picked up the pieces, raced in on goal and found the net with a rising shot. And try as they might, Celtic couldn’t salvage anything from the contest, with focus now turning towards Sunday’s Glasgow derby showdown in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (McGregor 63), Brown, Forrest (Roberts 73), Rogic (Griffiths 71), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Simunovic, Armstrong

    BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH (4-2-3-1) Sommer; Korb, Vestergaard, Elvedi, Wendt; Kramer, Strobl; Traore (Schulz 86), Stindl, Hofmann; Hahn (Herrmann 90)

    Not Used: Sippel, Dahoud, Sow, Jantschke, Rutten


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, October 15, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Sinclair 18, Dembele 87pen.)

    MOTHERWELL…0

    GOALS in either half from Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele saw a dominant Celtic put Motherwell to the sword to maintain their four-point advantage at the top of the table.Sinclair bagged his eighth goal of the season to fire the Hoops ahead following good work from James Forrest on the right. Only the heroics of goalkeeper Craig Samson kept the visitors in the game, before Dembele finally sealed the spoils in the final minutes from the penalty spot after Samson had fouled him in the box.

    Liam Henderson made his first start of the season as Brendan Rodgers make three changes to the team that defeated Dundee before the latest international break. The 20-year-old, who has featured twice this season from the bench, replaced Nir Bitton in central midfield. Cristian Gamboa came in at right-back in place of Mikael Lustig, while Stuart Armstrong started in the No.10 role at the expense of Tom Rogic.

    It didn’t take long for Henderson to get involved as Celtic made a bright start. Robbing Keith Lasley just outside the box inside the opening two minutes, he burst into the box and flashed a shot into the side-netting.As the Hoops continued to zip the ball around with purpose, Armstrong came close when his effort was deflected inches wide of the far post.Motherwell replied with a Louis Moult shot that was blocked by Henderson at the expense of a corner – but normal service soon resumed, with Tierney seeing a shot charged down by Lasley at the far post.

    In-form striker Dembele got his first sight of goal in the 17th minute when he was fed by Tierney on the edge of the box, opened up his body and sent a curling shot towards the top corner which Craig Samson did well to push wide. From Henderson’s resultant corner, the goalkeeper was called into action to stop Erik Sviatchenko’s powerful header. The pressure was building and the Lanarkshire side’s resistance was broken 60 seconds later. Forrest, a constant menace with his speed and direct play, left one defender for dead as drove down the right before delivering an inviting low cross into the box.

    Although Dembele failed to make clean contact, Sinclair was following up and he swept a first-time shot beyond Samson. Gamboa was off target from distance and Sviatchenko fired narrowly over following Sinclair’s corner as the Bhoys went in pursuit of a quick-fire second.Through some delightful swift exchanges of passing around the box against the tightly-packed Motherwell backline, the Hoops continued to threaten, but their next clear chance emanated on the counter-attack.

    Brown thrust forward and found Dembele in the inside left channel. The hit-man calmly cut inside the backtracking Ben Heneghan and pulled the trigger but his curling shot cannoned off the post.

    On the stroke of half-time, Tierney was agonisingly close to a goal of the season contender. Muscling Scott McDonald off the ball on the left touchline, he darted inside towards the box where a mix of determination and nimble footwork saw him beat Richard Tait twice.

    He then danced away from Lasley before unleashing a ferocious shot that crashed off the top of the bar. It deserved more. A standing ovation from the home support underlined their appreciation for the talented teenager’s efforts.The breadth of the woodwork had spared the Steelmen further punishment on that occasion and then Samson came to his side’s rescue early in the second-half with a brilliant double save. First he reacted swiftly to get a hand to Brown’s deflected drive and then he managed to block Dembele on the rebound.

    The Motherwell shot-stopped was rooted to his spot when Sinclair tried his luck with a swerving shot in the 56th minute, but he breathed a sigh of relief as the ball whizzed wide.In search of a second goal, Brendan Rodgers added further firepower from the bench just beyond the hour mark, sending on Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts for Gamboa and Armstrong.The ever-dangerous Forrest tested Samson after another skilful run, and former Celt Stephen McManus made a last-ditch block to deny Sinclair as the Hoops continued to dominate.

    Samson was having an inspired game between the sticks for the away side and he made another superb save to thwart Sinclair after he had been teed-up by Dembele in the box.With three minutes on the clock, Samson was finally beaten for a second time. Chasing a Motherwell back-pass, Dembele got the ball moments before Samson, who sent the Frenchman tumbling to the ground.Referee John Beaton immediately pointed to the spot and Dembele picked himself up and confidently found the corner, sending Samson the wrong way in the process.

    It was the 13th time the young striker has found the net during the campaign and saw the Hoops confirm another well-deserved three points, maintaining confidence ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash against Borussia Monchengladbach.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Gamboa (Griffiths 61), Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Henderson; Forrest (Toure 84), Armstrong, (Roberts 61) Sinclair; Dembele.

    Not Used: De Vries, Izaguirre, Christie, McGregor

    MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Samson; Tait, Heneghan,McManus, McMillan (Ferguson 58); Cadden, Lasley, Clay, McLean (Hastie 79); McDonald (Bowman 46), Moult.

    Not Used: Brill, Ainsworth, Kennedy, Campbell


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    Scottish Premiership

    Saturday, October 1, 2016

    Dens Park, Dundee

    DUNDEE…0

    CELTIC…1

    (Brown 47)

    CAPTAIN Scott Brown scored the only goal of the game as a dominant Celtic defeated Dundee to extend their lead at the league summit to five points, with a game in hand over their rivals.The Hoops controlled the contest from start to finish at Dens Park, with Craig Gordon rarely called into serious action, but Brown’s accurate finish early in the second half was enough to secure them the spoils.

    Jozo Simunovic was restored to the starting XI as Brendan Rodgers made one change to the team that faced Manchester City in Wednesday’s thrilling UEFA Champions League draw.The Croatian internationalist replaced Kolo Toure in central defence, with the experienced centre-half named among the substitutes following his sterling shift in the 3-3 stalemate with the English Premier League side.

    That breathless, pulsating match had taken place less than three days ago but Celtic showed no signs of mental and physical fatigue as they quickly took the game to the home side.Scott Sinclair – who had started the match with the aim of moving within one game of Jimmy McGrory’s 81-year-old record of scoring in the opening eight league games of the season – was particularly lively in the opening minutes and he won a free-kick on the edge of the box in when he was felled by Darren O’Dea. Tom Rogic took the set-piece but his shot was deflected wide of the near post.

    It was all Celtic as Sinclair continued to cause problems, with the winger bringing out the first save from Scott Bain in the eighth minute with a curling shot that was heading for the far corner.

    Erik Sviatchenko looked to have a strong penalty shout waved away by referee Andrew Dallas when he was caught by Cammy Kerr – who had just been booked for a lunging challenge on Rogic – in the box following a corner.

    Kerr then came to his side’s rescue, blocking Sinclair’s goal-bound shot after James Forrest’s cross had caused panic in the Dundee defence.Although Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to dominate possession, they were largely being restricted to shots from distance as the hosts threw bodies behind the ball and sat deep.

    Rogic saw a curling free-kick saved by Bain and Bitton dragged a shot wide, before a ricochet near the edge of the area presented Sinclair with a golden opportunity but he failed to beat Bain from close-range. The offside flag spared his blushes, however.Brown was off target following a surging run, before some terrific tenacity from Tierney finally unlocked the Dundee rearguard on the stroke of half-time. The left-back drove past Kerr and cut the ball back for Sinclair, whose shot was pushed away by Bain.

    Once the second half got underway, though, the Bhoys didn’t have long to wait to break the deadlock. The move was started and finished by the excellent Brown. Less than two minutes after the restart, the skipper found Dembele in the box. The striker weaved his way towards goal but he was crowded out at the crucial moment. Sinclair’s rebound was blocked but Brown had followed up and he swept home through a ruck of bodies.The Hoops were keen to add to their advantage and Rogic had a low shot saved by Bain, having cut across the box.

    A Lovely piece of control from the Australian internationalist then saw him evade the clutches of Nicky Low and feed Forrest down the right. The wide-man’s cross was met by Sinclair, and his wayward shot was almost turned in by Dembele, though the offside flag was raised in any event.Leigh Griffiths was introduced for Rogic and the hit-man was determined to make an impact against his former employers yet the closest he came was when he found the side-netting after a thrusting run into the boxAlthough Paul Hartley’s side committed more men forward in the closing stages in search of a late leveller, they never troubled the Celtic rearguard as the champions closed out the contest with comfort, cementing their place at the top of the table going into the latest international break.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Forrest (Roberts 74), Rogic (Griffiths 65), Sinclair (Armstrong 84); Dembele

    Not Used: De Vries, Toure, Gamboa, Armstrong, McGregor

    DUNDEE (5-3-2) Bain; Kerr, Gomis, O’Dea, Holt, Williams (Loy 84); O’Hara, McGowan, Low (Ross 81); El Bakhtaoui (Wighton 65), Teijsse

    Not Used: Mitchell, Vincent, Etxabeguren, Quigley


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    UEFA Champions League

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday September 28

    CELTIC…3

    (Dembele 3, 46 Tierney 20)

    MANCHESTER CITY…3

    (Fernandinho 12, Sterling 28, Nolito 55)

    AN incredible night of drama, goals and passion at Celtic Park saw the Hoops share the spoils by Manchester City as the teams played out a sensational six-goal thriller in the UEFA Champions League.

    With a display of relentless energy and excellent composure in front of goal, Celtic took the lead three times in the game, twice in the first-half and once less than a minute into the second-half, but they were pegged back every time by Pep Guardiola’s City side, who failed to win for the first time under their Catalan manager.

    The plaudits must go to Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys, whose determination, bravery and impressive football, spurred on by a typically vociferous home crowd, gave everyone at Paradise a night to remember, none more so than young Kieran Tierney, who scored Celtic’s second goal on his 50th appearance for the club.The result now sets the Celts up for a mouthwatering encounter with Borussia Monchengladbach in the next round of games after the Hoops leapfrogged the German side into third place in Group C.

    Swirling rain engulfed Celtic Park as the game got underway under the floodlights of Paradise, but it was the Hoops who were quickly smothering their hosts as they pinned City back from the first whistle.The quick start caught the visitors unaware and a cheap foul given away deep in their own half after just three minutes gave Celtic the chance to open the scoring, which they grabbed with both hands.

    Scott Sinclair stood over the set-piece but he checked his run-up to the ball, with the Celts attacking line darting into the box. James Forrest cleverly held his run to stay onside, however, and supplied a deft, half-volleyed cross into the box, which Erik Sviatchenko headed on to the chest of Dembele with the ball then evading Claudio Bravo in the City goal.Celtic Park erupted and the Bhoys almost went two in front moments later when Kolo Toure swivelled in the box and brought out a fine save from Bravo.

    The frantic action spilled from end to end as Tom Rogic saw another Celtic shot blocked, but City soon restored parity after 12 minutes when they profited from a deflected Aleksandar Kolarov shot that found the feet of Fernandinho through a mass of bodies in the Celtic penalty area. The Brazilian midfielder controlled the ball and slotted it calmly past Craig Gordon.There was seemingly nothing that could hold the Bhoys back, however, and after weathering a brief spell of pressure from Pep Guardiola’s side, the Hoops stormed back into the lead in emphatic fashion.

    Nir Bitton broke up a City attack deep in his own half and carried the ball forward, coolly evading a sliding challenge before threading a pass into space for Rogic, who had made the run ahead.The Australian glided towards the 18-yard line before looking up to find Tierney’s run into the box. His weighted pass for the full-back was perfect for the 19-year-old to hit it first-time and he showed no hesitation in doing so, powering a left-footed shot off the out-stretched foot of Raheem Sterling and past Bravo.

    The young full-back raced away in joyous celebration as he toasted his 50th appearance for the Scottish champions with a fine goal.

    Celtic were pegged back yet again less than 10 minutes later, however, as a dramatic first-half rampaged on, with Raheem Sterling’s composed turn past Tierney and finish beyond Gordon levelling the tie before the half-hour mark.However, the Hoops continued to carve out chances, with Rogic in stunning form in the centre of the pitch, helping to create opportunities for his team-mates but the home side couldn’t find the net again before the interval.

    Just seconds into the second-half, however, they did score their third goal of the night and it came courtesy of an outstanding piece of skill from Dembele. In their first attack from the restart, Celtic pushed forward down the left, with the quick feet of Bitton freeing up space for Tierney to cross.The full-back’s centre skimmed through the legs of Kolarov to the waiting Dembele, who knocked the ball up in the air with his left thigh, before spinning back on to it with his right boot in mid-air to curl a shot into the corner of the net.

    The strike was just rewards for the energy and passion Celtic had shown from the first minute but their lead failed to last yet again when Nolito equalised on 55 minutes, following up to fire home after Craig Gordon had denied Sergio Aguero to make it 3-3.Both sets of supporters and players were then afforded a rare moment of respite, as the ratio of goalmouth chances for each side dipped as both teams set up for the final third of the match.

    The enthralling football still raged on as the teams fought out an intriguing battle that moved from box-to-box. The final 10 minutes saw the Hoops introduce Patrick Roberts to the action in place of James Forrest, whose tireless running of the right flank encapsulated Celtic’s commitment.City dominated the final moments of the match, though, as they sought to steal all three points, but as news of Barcelona’s 2-1 advantage over Borussia Monchengladbach filtered through the stands, the Celtic support got to their feet to push the Bhoys over the line and help them secure a vital and thoroughly deserved point to move them up to third place in the group.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton (Griffiths 84), Brown; Forrest (Roberts 80), Rogic (Armstrong 57), Sinclair; Dembele.

    Not used: De Vries, Simunovic, Gamboa, McGregor

    MANCHESTER CITY (4-1-4-1) Bravo; Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kolarov, Clichy (Stones73); Fernandinho; Sterling, Gungogan, Silva, Nolito (Fernando 76); Aguero.

    Not used: Caballero, Sagna, Navas, Sane, Iheanach


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, September 24, 2016

    CELTIC…6

    (Dembele 35, 38, Forrest 52, Griffiths 66, Sinclair 72 pen, Rogic 85)

    KILMARNOCK…1

    (Coulibaly 32)

    SCOTT Sinclair kept up his record of scoring in every single league game this season as Celtic ran riot against Kilmarnock in Paradise to cement their position at the league summit.The winger found the net from the penalty spot late in the second-half to move within two games of equalling Jimmy McGrory’s remarkable record which has stood for over 80 years.

    By that stage, the champions had already sealed the spoils against the Rugby Park side, despite going behind in the 32nd minute completely against the run of play to Souleyman Couilbaly’s speculative 40-yard shot.However, Brendan Rodgers’ side soon fought back to take the lead before half-time thanks to a quick-fire double from Moussa Dembele, which took the striker’s tally to 10 goals in 10 starts for the Bhoys.

    James Forrest made it 3-1 after combining well with the impressive Rogic, before Leigh Griffiths came off the bench to inflict further punishment on Lee Clark’s side.Sinclair converted from the spot and there was still time for Rogic to squeeze a sixth goal against the demoralised visitors as Celtic head into Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League showdown against Manchester City on the back of another sparkling showing.

    Brendan Rodgers made four changes to the team that eased past Alloa in the League Cup quarter-final on Wednesday night, with Dorus de Vries, Erik Sviatchenko, Nir Bitton and Sinclair all restored to the starting XI. Craig Gordon, Kolo Toure, Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts all dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Griffiths as the prolific striker made a welcome return from injury.

    Veteran striker Kris Boyd led the line for the visitors and he earned them the first sight of goal in the second minute, drawing a foul on the edge of the box from Jozo Simunovic, who had retained his spot in central defence following his return from injury. The Celtic wall, however, did its job from the resultant free-kick from Couilbaly.

    From then on, the opening exchanges were dominated by the Hoops who launched incessant attacks against the Killie rearguard, mixing it up between going through the middle and down the flanks.Dembele was always the focal point, heading over from Kieran Tierney’s cutback and the striker suffered the same fate after dispossessing Luke Hendrie on the angle of the box.

    Sinclair, chasing his sixth successive league goal, was also off target after Rogic and Demble had shots charged down, while Scott Brown and Bitton also tried their luck from long-range without seriously troubling goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. A wonderful reverse pass from Tom Rogic then released James Forrest inside the box but he could only curl over.

    The Ayrshire outfit were resorting to desperate defending to keep the rampant Bhoys at bay, exemplified by centre-half Johnathan Burn who made two last-gasp blocks in quick succession to deny Sinclair and Dembele.The tide of attacks continued to flow towards the Kilmarnock goal, with Brown shooting wide from Tierney’s precise pass. The talented teenager, making his 49th appearance for the champions, was offering his usual enterprise and was a constant threat down the left.

    After another foraging run, he picked out Sinclair lurking near the edge of the area in the 23rd minute. Swivelling away sharply from his marker, the English winger fashioned a yard of space but saw his effort fly straight at MacDonald.Aside from Dean Hawkshaw firing over from Rory McKenzie’s bobbling cross, Lee Clark’s side had been completely occupied by defensive duties, but in the 32nd minute they stunned the home crowd by taking the lead in spectacular fashion.

    There looked no danger whatsoever when Couilbaly received the ball 40 yards from goal in the inside left channel, but he turned and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner beyond de Vries.Celtic responded like champions and a team full of belief, however, as they turned the match around within the space of six minutes.After the Hoops had moved the ball from side to side on yet another forward foray, Mikael Lustig looked up and fed an inviting ball into the box. It was met by Dembele, who made no mistake.

    The next goal emanated down the opposite flank. Tierney scampered on to Brown’s pass and brilliantly picked out Dembele from the byline and the Frenchman fired another clinical finish into the top of the net.

    Craig Gordon replaced de Vries at the start of the second half but all the action was down at the other end as the Hoops soon resumed their momentum from the opening period. Within seven minutes of the restart, Celtic had doubled their advantage. Forrest darted inside from the right, collected a return pass from Rogic and kept his cool to slot the ball into the corner.

    That only served to add extra impetus to the home side and Rogic looked to have a good penalty shout waved away, before the Australian internationalist had an effort from 20 yards beaten away by MacDonald.

    Dembele came within inches of his hat-trick just beyond the hour-mark when he rose highest to head Tierney’s delivery over the bar. In the 65th minute, Griffiths was introduced to the fray for Dembele, and, to ypically, it only took him a matter of minutes to make an impact.

    His first two touches saw him set-up Tierney for a chance, with MacDonald making an excellent save. When the resultant corner came in, Simunovic headed the ball towards goal, and Griffiths was on hand to deliver the crucial final touch.Celtic were far from finished, though, and Griffiths won a penalty when fouled by Greg Taylor. He handed the ball to Sinclair, who found the corner of the net to keep him on track to equal McGrory’s long-standing record.

    Rogic added number six in the final 10 minutes, though MacDonald will feel he should have done better from the midfielder’s low shot, as the dominant Hoops kept up the pressure on the beleaguered away side until the final whistle.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries (Gordon 46); Lustig, Sviatchenko, Simunovic, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair (Roberts 73); Dembele (Griffiths 65)

    Not Used: Toure, Gamboa, Armstrong, McGregor

    KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; Hendrie, Burn, S. Boyd, Taylor; McKenzie, Dicker; Tyson (Jones 53), Hawkshaw (Adams 48), Couilbaly; K. Boyd

    Not Used: MacKay, Boyle, Smith, Frizzell, Morrison


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    Betfred League Cup quarter-final

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Forrest 83, Dembele 90)

    ALLOA…0

    PERSISTENCE paid off for Celtic after late goals from James Forrest and Moussa Dembele saw them see off a spirited Alloa Athletic in a completely one-sided contest and book their spot in the League Cup semi-finals.The Hoops bombarded Jack Ross’ side from the first whistle but a mixture of superb goalkeeping from Neil Parry and some wasteful finishing saw the game remain goal-less as the game entered the final 10 minutesBut Forrest’s run and shot finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute, much to the relief of home crowd, and Dembele’s emphatic finish sealed the Bhoys’ place in tomorrow’s (Thursday) draw for the last-four of the competition.

    Jozo Simunovic made his first Celtic start since January 23, having returned to action for the Scottish champions as a second-half substitute Sunday’s 2-2 draw away to Inverness Caley Thistle.The inclusion of the Croat was one of five changes to the team that lined up in the Highlands, with Craig Gordon returning between the sticks for the first time since the UEFA Champions League play-off away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva last month.

    Kolo Toure, Stuart Armstrong and Forrest also came into the team, while Dorus De Vries, Erik Sviatchenko, Cristian Gamboa, Callum McGregor and Scott Sinclair all dropped out.Celtic could have been ahead within 30 seconds as they immediately took the game to their League One opponents. Forrest sped down the left, cut inside the box and then picked out Tom Rogic, whose shot was saved by Neil Parry.

    It was one-way traffic in the opening stages as the Hoops kept pouring forward – Dembele headed Lustig’s cross over, Kieran Tierney drove straight at Parry and Rogic was unable to keep a half-volley down.Parry was called into action again in the 13th minute, reacting swiftly to make a low save after Dembele had flicked Lustig’s cut-back towards the far corner.

    Former Celtic youngster Greig Spence registered the Wasps’ first shot on goal in the 15th minute with an ambitious effort from distance but Gordon was equal to it. In the 25th minute, somehow the visitors survived as Celtic had another flurry of chances. First, Parry came to his team’s rescue when he blocked Forrest’s close-range effort, before defender Andy Graham made a last-ditch block to deny Dembele after he had met Tierney’s low cutback.

    The young left-back has been full of vigour from the kick off, rampaging forward at every opportunity. Just before the half-hour mark, he almost opened the scoring with a thunderous half-volley from the angle of the box that crashed off the bar.Armstrong and Rogic tried in vain from long-range but still the breakthrough remained elusive as half-time approached. And there was further frustration for the Bhoys and Forrest in particular after he spurned a golden chance.

    Lustig brilliantly picked out the winger in space in the box but he could only steer his shot wide with the outside of his right foot.

    For all Celtic’s incessant pressure, Gordon, who moments earlier had been booked for fouling Spence outside the area, had to make a smart save from Ben Gordon after the centre-half had connected with Waters’ free-kick just before the break, leaving the scores even at the interval.

    Scott Sinclair was introduced for Roberts at the start of the second half and the 27-year-old only took three minutes to show his shooting skills.Cutting in from the left, he eventually took aim from 20 yards and his powerful shot flashed inches wide of the post. Thrusting forward from defence, Simunovic tried something similar shortly after but his attempt flew high and wide.

    When the normally reliable Sinclair endured the same fate following Forrest’s cutback moments later, it looked as though it could be one of ‘those’ nights.Even when the Hoops did carve a way through the battling Alloa backline, they were coming up against a keeper in inspired form. Breaking quickly from an Alloa corner, Armstrong found Rogic, who fed the ball through for Dembele but Parry was out quickly and blocked the striker’s lofted effortSimunovic headed wide from Sinclair’s corner, Tierney dragged a shot wide and Rogic was booked for simulation when he looked to have been clipped in the box by Jim Goodwin. Armstrong and Rogic were off target from long-range and Forrest saw a low shot saved by Parry as Alloa continued their heroic defence.

    Ryan Christie entered the fray for Simunovic to add further firepower but still Alloa held out, with Parry producing another superb stop at his near post from Forrest.But the winger and Celtic finally got the rewards for their utter dominance. Released down the right by Christie’s cross-field pass, Forrest drove into the box and found the corner of the net with his left foot.And there was still time for Dembele to hammer in a second goal as the clock ticked down, the French hit-man leaving Graham for dead and smashing the ball into the top corner.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, Simunovic (Christie 70), Tierney; Armstrong, Brown, Rogic (Sviatchenko 85); Roberts (Sinclair 46), Dembele, Forrest

    Not Used: De Vries, Bitton, Gamboa, Henderson

    ALLOA (4-5-1) Parry; Taggart, Gordon, Graham, Waters; Cawley (Holmes 78) Goodwin (Longworth 84) Robertson, Kirkpatrick; Flannigan, Spence

    Not Used: McDowall, Wilson, Hoggan, Marr, Scullio


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    Scottish Premiership

    Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, Inverness

    Sunday, September 18, 2016

    INVERNESS…2

    (King 27, Fisher 90)

    CELTIC…2

    (Rogic 16, Sinclair 33)

    CELTIC dropped their first two points of the SPFL Premiership season this afternoon (Sunday) in a 2-2 draw with Inverness Caley Thistle at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.It was a landmark afternoon for Scott Sinclair who bagged his fifth goal in five opening league matches for the Celts, a feat last accomplished by the great Jimmy McGrory.

    Tom Rogic was also on the scoresheet on an afternoon where the Hoops were left frustrated after creating numerous opportunities.

    Two changes were made for the match following the defeat to Barcelona midweek as Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic replaced Nir Bitton and Kolo Toure in the starting XI. Cristian Gamboa was also in the starting line-up as the Costa Rican made his domestic debut in the Highlands.

    The game had a pulsating start with the Celts racing out the traps as Sinclair forced Owain Fon-Williams into a strong stop in only the fifth minute.

    The champions kept up the pressure and a lung-bursting run from Patrick Roberts a minute later was cut back to Gamboa, but his shot failed to trouble the Caley keeper.Moussa Dembele was next to try his luck from inside the area after he was picked out from the lively Roberts in the ninth minute. The striker’s shot just wide of the post, though. Doris de Vries, at the other end, had to be alert following a Greg Tansey free-kick in the 15th minute.

    Inverness continued to sit deep which forced the Hoops to play patiently and wait for an opening. And on the 16th minute, the visitors broke the deadlock. Tom Rogic finished off a fine piece of play from Kieran Tierney to fire Brendan Rodgers’ men into a 1-0 lead.

    The hosts, however, were quick to react. A darting run from attacker Billy King was followed by a long-range effort into the top corner to give Inverness the equaliser in the 27th minute. But Celtic’s energy and high-tempo then proved too much for Richie Foran’s men and a wonderful piece of pressing from Sinclair delivered the second. Dispossessing Gary Warren, he advanced on goal before curling his effort past Williams in the Caley net.

    The 33rd-minute strike will go down in the history books as Sinclair becomes the first Celt in 80 years to score in each of the Hoops’ opening five league matches in a season.The Hoops started the second-half on the front foot as Fon-Williams had to make an excellent save from Dembele after the striker had latched on to a precise pass in the 50th minute.

    And the goalkeeper made another terrific save four minutes later when Tierney got past Brad McKay, forcing the Caley stopper to tip the left-back’s thumping effort out for a corner. Fon-Williams, in the 56th minute, had to react sharply to save from a McGregor shot that came through a ruck of bodies to keep the score at 2-1.

    Ten minutes later, the Bhoys fashioned another promising position on the edge of the box but Sinclair saw his effort palmed wide by the keeper. Good footwork from McGregor in the 77th minute gave the midfielder another sight of goal but again his dipping effort was pushed to safety.

    In the 85th minute, Tierney couldn’t find the target from inside the box after another good run was rounded off with a powerful strike that rattled the crossbar.At the other end, substitute Aaron Doran gave the Hoops a fright with an effort from outside the area in the 89th minute to force de Vries into tipping the ball out for a corner. And from the corner, Inverness headed the equaliser. Another one of the hosts’ substitutes, Alex Fisher, burst forward and got on to the end of the set-piece to send the home fans into jubilation.

    As the game entered its latter stages, Dembele came the closest to securing the three points for Celtic but Fon-Williams yet again prevented the ball going in the net.Attention now turns to Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final against Alloa Athletic at Paradise.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Gamboa (Simunovic 69), Lustig, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, McGregor; Roberts (Forrest 75), Rogic (Armstrong 86), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Bitton, Christie

    INVERNESS (4-5-1) Williams; Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, McKay; Draper, Polworth (Mulraney 69), Vigurs (Doran 59), Tansey, King, McKay; Doumbouya (Fisher 82)

    Not used: Mackay, Raven, Boden, Cole,


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    UEFA Champions League matchday one

    Camp Nou, Barcelona

    Tuesday September 13, 2016

    BARCELONA…7

    (Messi 3, 27, 60, Neymar 50, Iniesta 59, Suarez 75, 87)

    CELTIC…0

    CELTIC’S Champions League group-stage campaign got off to a nightmare start as they were dealt a harsh lesson by a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona in a 7-0 loss at the Camp Nou.

    The Argentinean attacker was in fantastic form and scored a first-half double before sealing his hat-trick after the break as Luis Enrique’s side flexed their creative muscles.

    Neymar’s stunning free-kick put the game out of reach of Celtic early in the second-half before substitute Andres Iniesta made it 4-0 with an magnificent volley before the hour mark. Messi then sealed his hat-trick a minute later with another textbook Barcelona goal before Luis Suarez made it 6-0 to the La Liga champions with a skilful turn and shot inside six yards.

    Celtic’s only real sight of goal on a difficult night came midway through the first-half when they were awarded a penalty after Moussa Dembele was felled by Marc-Andre ter Stegen but the French striker had his shot from the spot saved.

    There were little other signs of positivity for the Bhoys on an evening where they were made to defend for nearly 90 minutes against arguably the best club side in the world and Suarez’s second of the night with just three minutes left was a real body blow for the Scottish champions, who will now look to their next fixture in the group against Manchester City at home to reignite their campaign.

    CELTIC (5-4-1) De Vries; Gamboa, Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko (O’Connell 68), Tierney; Roberts (Armstrong 68), Brown, Bitton (McGregor 76), Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Rogic, Forrest

    BARCELONA (4-3-3) ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Rakatic (Iniesta 46), Busquets (Rafinha 60), Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar

    Not used: Cillessen, Turan, Mascherano, Alcacer, Digne


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    SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday September 10, 2016

    CELTIC…5

    (Dembele 33, 42, 83, Sinclair 61, Armstrong 89)

    RANGERS…1

    (Garner 45)

    A MAGESTIC hat-trick from Moussa Dembele helped Celtic to a 5-1 victory in the Glasgow derby at Paradise today (Saturday) as the clinical Scottish champions went four points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand.

    The young French striker was in imperious form, powering Celtic into a two-goal lead before the interval with a header and a classy right-footed effort before Joe Garner pulled one back for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.

    Dembele was not finished, however, and his unstoppable run towards the penalty box on 61 minutes drew out the Rangers defence, allowing him to pick out Scott Sinclair in the box with an excellent pass which the winger dispatched with ease to put the Bhoys firmly on top.

    Philippe Senderos’ dismissal for a second yellow card after a handball late on was followed swiftly by David Weir’s, with the Rangers assistant manager sent to the stands for his touchline protests, but the day finished with the sun shining on Celtic and Paradise, as Dembele bagged his hat-trick, controlling an exquisite pass from Mikael Lustig at the back post before rifling a left-footed shot past Foderingham.

    Substitute Stuart Armstrong then made it a fantastic five with a patient and angled finished on the stroke of full time to cap off an outstanding afternoon for the Bhoys, who ran their Glasgow rivals ragged with a truly top-class performance.

    Dembele was the only change Celtic made for the game, with the striker replacing the injured Leigh Griffiths up front. The Frenchman started well, helping the Hoops link up the play as the Bhoys took the game to the visitors down the flanks.

    The first 10 minutes were frenetic, with both teams trading corners and Nir Bitton writing himself into the referee’s book with a foul on Niko Kranjcar, but Celtic soon began to assert themselves, with Tom Rogic trying his luck from distance with a first-time shot over the bar.

    Dembele then made the home side’s pressure count when the Hoops won a corner on the left which Sinclair delivered with accuracy into the box.

    The Frenchman made a late run towards the six-yard line to meet the cross and thundered a header straight into the net past Wes Foderingham to make it 1-0 and turn Paradise into a mass of green and white euphoria.

    Mark Warburton’s team came forward after conceding in search of a reply but they offered little in way of a threat as a packed Celtic Park roared the Bhoys on after opening the scoring.

    And it wasn’t long before the home support had another excellent goal to savour as Dembele doubled his tally with under five minutes left in the first-half. The forward showed incredible pace to latch on to Nir Bitton’s threaded pass before leaving Senderos tumbling with a neat turn in the box. Dembele then looked up and curled a shot beyond Foderingham with the outside of his foot to make it 2-0 to the Hoops.

    Celtic were still in dreamland as half-time approached and they were caught out before the break, with Garner grabbing a goal for his side after Kenny Miller headed the ball back across box for his strike partner.

    The goal spurred the visitors on after the restart and they controlled possession for large periods as the game got back underway, having changed Kranjcar with Andy Halliday at half-time. Kolo Toure was booked for a late challenge on Garner as the Ibrox side sought to expose Celtic on the break while Barrie McKay went close to finding the net with a curling shot from the left of the box.

    Rogic was replaced  by Armstrong and Celtic soon extended their lead. The Bhoys held the ball patiently before Lustig unleashed Dembele from the right flank, allowing him to drive at the box and draw out the visiting defence.

    His hold-up play was timed to perfection and as Senderos came out to meet him, he slipped a pin-point pass in for Sinclair, who made no mistake with a classy left-footed shot past Foderingham, which re-established Celtic’s dominance.

    Brendan Rodgers brought on Patrick Roberts for the industrious James Forrest in the search of more goals, while Martyn Waghorn replaced Miller.

    The champions were then forced into one final change when Scott Brown made way for Callum McGregor but the captain’s departure was followed swiftly by Senderos’, with the Rangers defender shown a second yellow card for a deliberate handball with 15 minutes left.

    David Weir soon followed him after being ordered to the stands by the referee and the Ibrox side’s terrible afternoon was then compounded further when Dembele stepped up to grab his hat-trick after collecting a wonderful long ball from Lustig in the box and rattling a shot past Foderingham with his left foot.

    Armstrong then sealed a five-star performance for the Celts with an angled finished after Tierney’s cut-back to make it a fantastic 5-1 to the Hoops.

    The final whistle sounded shortly after but it could barely be heard through the roar of the Paradise faithful as they celebrated a resounding win over their city rivals.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Bitton, Brown (McGregor 74); Forrest (Roberts 63), Rogic (Armstrong 54), Sinclair; Dembele.

    Not used: Gordon, Ciftci, Izaguirre, Gamboa

    RANGERS (4-3-3) Foderingham; Tavernier, Senderos, Kiernan (Forrester 71), Wallace; Barton, Kranjcar (Halliday 46), Windass; Garner, McKay, Miller (Waghorn 63).

    Not used: Gilks, Hill, O’Halloran, Hodson


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    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    CELTIC…4

    (Griffiths 13, Forrest 42, Sinclair pen. 87, Rogic 90)

    ABERDEEN…1

    (Rooney 33)

    CELTIC maintained their 100 per cent start to their league defence and moved top of the table after a 4-1 victory over last season’s runners-up Aberdeen in Paradise.

    First-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest, book-ended Adam Rooney’s equaliser for the Dons and put the Hoops in charge at the break.

    The visitors continued to offer resistance without really troubling debutant Dorus de Vries until Scott Sinclair was sent tumbling in the box by Mark Reynolds in the closing minutes, earning the defender a second yellow card and his marching orders. Sinclair dispatched the resultant spot-kick confidently.

    Tom Rogic ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side finished with a flourish and headed into the international break on a high by curling home a free-kick into the far corner in the dying seconds.

    De Vries, signed earlier this month from Nottingham Forest, was preferred between the sticks to Craig Gordon, who was named among the substitutes. His inclusion was one of three changes made by the manager to the team that lined-up away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva four days ago as the Hoops booked their place in the UEFA Champions League group stages.

    Erik Sviatchenko and Rogic, who both came on as substitutes in the Turner Stadium, were restored to the team at the expense of Saidy Janko and Callum McGregor.

    De Vries could have been called into action inside the first 60 seconds as Wes Burns managed to evade the attentions of Sviatchenko but he blasted over from an acute angle. After that early scare, however, Celtic took control.

    Dominating possession as the visitors deployed 11 men behind the ball, the Hoops probed patiently for openings. Griffiths had the first attempt on goal in the eighth minute, firing over from 25 yards after being fed by Scott Sinclair.

    Moments later Rogic came within inches of breaking the deadlock when his powerful shot from 25 yards almost smashed the crossbar in two, with goalkeeper Joe Lewis grasping at thin air.

    The bar had barely stopped rattling when the English shot-stopper was beaten again – but this time the woodwork didn’t come to his rescue.

    Darting across the edge of the box, Griffiths nutmegged Kenny McLean before unleashing a ferocious strike that cannoned off the upright and into the top of the net.

    As Celtic Park erupted, Griffiths ran the full length of the pitch and picked up a t-shirt that read RIP Kieran, paying tribute to young Hoops fan Kieran McDade, who tragically passed away last week at the age of 13 after collapsing during football training. Fittingly, the goal had also arrived in the 13th minute.

    The Hoops continued to make all the running as Aberdeen maintained their ultra-defensive approach. Sinclair’s skill took him away from Anthony O’Connor and into the box. His cutback was met by Forrest but the winger’s shot was off target.

    Aside from Burns’ early incursion, Aberdeen had been devoid as an attacking force but they restored parity with their first effort on goal. Niall McGinn reached the byline and when Kolo Toure could only block his low cross, Rooney was the first to react, steering an effort into the corner beyond de Vries.

    An errant pass from de Vries nearly gave McLean a clear run on goal as the Pittodrie side suddenly had a spring in their step, but Toure recovered rapidly to force the midfielder wide and produce a brilliant tackle.

    Celtic took time to rediscover their earlier fluency as the game became disjointed but a sweeping move saw them restore their lead just before the break. Rogic drove through the middle and released Forrest in the box and the winger’s exquisite first-time finish found the far corner.

    And the home side could have added to their tally on the stroke of half-time as Mikael Lustig picked out Griffiths from the right, but the hit-man’s attempt fizzed wide.

    Aberdeen tried to take the initiative after the restart, pushing higher up the pitch, but the first clear chance fell to Celtic. Rogic sent Tierney scampering clear down the left. The teenager picked out Sinclair, whose was heading into the net until defender Ash Taylor threw himself in the way of the ball.

    To inject fresh dynamism into the Hoops’ play, Brendan Rodgers made a double change early in the second-half, sending on Patrick Roberts and Moussa Dembele for Forrest and Griffiths.

    Roberts, making his first appearance since picking up an injury against FC Astana at the start of the month, was quickly involved, running at his opponents and making inroads into the Dons defence.

    And his trickery down the right saw Brown presented with a chance to shoot from 20 yards. The skipper’s effort was blocked and Bitton’s curling effort on the rebound wasn’t far away.

    Derek McInnes’ men, however, were continuing to offer spirited resistance and Burns and McGinn both headed over at the far post, before Graeme Shinnie blasted over from a good position in the box.

    But with Aberdeen committing more men forward in search of a second leveller, Celtic killed off the contest in the closing stages as Sinclair picked himself up and scored from the spot after he had been fouled by Reynolds, who was sent off for a second bookable offence.

    Rogic’s sublime free-kick compounded the away side’s misery as Celtic Park, packed to the rafters once again, celebrated a third successive league triumph.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (McGregor 81); Forrest (Roberts 57) Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 57)

    Not Used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Christie, Janko

    ABERDEEN (5-2-3) Lewis; Logan, O’Connor (Stockley 84), Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; McLean, Shinnie; Burns, Rooney (Storey 84), McGinn

    Not Used: Alexander, Morris, Storie, McKenna, Wright


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    UEFA Champions League

    Play-off round, second leg

    Turner Stadium, Be’er Sheva, Israel

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA 2

    (Sahar 21, Hoban 48)

    CELTIC 0

    (Celtic win 5-4 on aggregate)

    THERE was a sense of jubilation as well as relief as Celtic reached the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in three years with a 5-4 aggregate win over Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

    Despite a 2-0 defeat in Israel, Brendan Rodgers’ side resisted intense pressure from the home side to win the tie and progress to the next round of the tournament.

    Now the Hoops can look forward to the draw for the group stages of the competition, which takes place this Thursday afternoon.

    It was a tough evening for the Scottish champions, but over the two legs the Hoops deserved to triumph, with the 5-2 victory at Celtic Park proving crucial, and the players and fans in the Turner Stadium celebrated the success.

    It was a nervy start to the game for both sides, although Hapoel Be’er Sheva were taking the game to the Hoops, and it was the home side who got their first break of the game after 14 minutes when Saidy Janko was adjudged to have fouled Davidzada in the box, with the Dutch referee pointing to the spot.

    It looked to have been a harsh decision, with replays suggesting the challenge was outside the box, but the decision was not to be reversed. Maharan Radi stepped up and fired the spot-kick goalwards, but it was saved by Craig Gordon.However, Celtic’s relief was short-lived as, just two minutes after coming on as a substitute for Lucio Maranhao, who had been injured, headed the home side into the lead on 21 mintues.

    Scott Sinclair was Celtic’s most dangerous player in the first-half but the Hoops didn’t create many clear-cut chances to test David Goresh in the Be’er Sheva goal, with a Leigh Griffiths shot from the edge of the box on target but gathered by the Israeli keeper.

    Tom Rogic replaced James Forrest at the start of the second-half, but just three minutes after the re-start, Hapoel Be’er Sheva doubled their lead.

    A cross into the box led to a mix-up between Craig Gordon and Saidy Janko, with the ball breaking to Ovidiu Hoban, who bundled it into the net from a couple of yards out.That second goal galvanised the home crowd and drove Be’er Sheva on in search of a third goal which would put them through to the group stages of the competition.

    On 56 minutes, Leigh Griffiths was replaced by Moussa Dembele, and just minutes later the Frenchman had Celtic’s best chance when he cut inside from the left and from the edge of the box curled a shot that went just inches wide of Goresh’s left-hand post.And four minutes later, Sinclair and Dembele were denied by some desperate defending from the home side.

    Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s attacks became increasingly frantic while Celtic remained resolute in defence under heavy home pressure. And after what felt like the longest ever four minutes, the final whistle signalled Celtic’s success. UEFA Champions League group-stage football is back in Paradise!

    CELTIC: Gordon; Janko, Lustig, Toure, Tierney; Brown, Bitton, McGregor (Svietchenko 65); Forrest (Rogic 46), Griffiths (Dembele 56), Sinclair.

    Subs:: De Vries, Izaguirre, Armstrong, Roberts.

    HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA: Goresh, Bitton, Vitor (Shabtay 75), Tzedek, Radi, Nwakaeme, Hoban, Davidzada, Maranhao (Sahar 19), Melikson (Buzaglo 34), Ogu.

    Subs: Halmov, Ohayon, Taha


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    Scottish Premiership

    McDiarmid Park, Perth

    Saturday, August 20, 2016

    ST JOHNSTONE…2

    (Swanson 83, McLean 89)

    CELTIC…4

    (Griffiths 28, Sinclair 40, Forrest 44, 90 +2 Christie)

    CELTIC struck three times in the space of 16 minutes to help put St Johnstone to the sword in Perth and make it two wins out of two in the Scottish Premiership.Birthday Bhoy Leigh Griffiths rewarded the Hoops’ early dominance by opening the scoring in the 28th minute with a rasping half-volley.Scott Sinclair made it 2-0 with a close-range finish – his third goal in four games since signing from Aston Villa – after Alan Mannus has saved from James Forrest and Griffiths.

    Forrest looked to have killed off the contest just before the interval with a tremendous individual goal, capping off another noteworthy performance from the winger. There was unlikely late twist, though, as goals from Danny Swanson – from the penalty spot – and Steven MacLean provided a glimmer of hope for Tommy Wright’s side.

    But substitute Ryan Christie blasted home in stoppage time to ensure Celtic had the last word of a completely one-sided match.

    It was another well-deserved three points for the champions which put them top of the table and continued their impressive early-season form, with attention now turning towards Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League play-off second-leg against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

    Nir Bitton and Saidy Janko came into starting XI as Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the team that swept aside the Israeli title-winners 5-2 three days ago in Paradise.Bitton, making his first competitive start for the Hoops since the opening match of the season in against Lincoln Red Imps, replaced Callum McGregor in central midfield, who was named among the substitutes.

    Mikael Lustig, meanwhile, made way for Janko at right-back, with the Swedish internationalist dropping out the squad.From the first whistle, Celtic took control, utterly dominating possession and pinning the hosts back, deep in their own half.Aside from a dangerous cutback from Kieran Tierney that almost fell for Sinclair and a Bitton shot that was charged down at the edge of the box, however, the Saints defence held firm inside the opening 10 minutes.

    An incisive burst from Tom Rogic saw him slide a dangerous ball across goal but it wasn’t close enough for Griffiths to threaten as the pressure continued.In the 13th minute, Danny Swanson registered the home side’s first shot on goal when he tried his luck from distance but it was comfortable fare for Craig Gordon.Normal service soon resumed, though as O’Connell was inches away from meeting Sinclair’s free-kick, while a superb solo run from Rogic, which saw him evade two defenders, went unrewarded as the Australian was crowded out at the crucial moment.

    A pinpoint corner from Griffiths picked out Sinclair lurking at the far post in the 20th minute but Richard Foster was on hand for Tommy Wright’s side to block his volley.Celtic eventually broke the home side’s resistance in the 28th minute. A promising attack looked to have fizzled for the Bhoys when Tierney had to turn back to retrieve a pass. However, the teenager showed terrific tenacity and skill to dart past his marker and fizz the ball into the box.

    Brad McKay could only deflect the ball towards Griffiths and the striker took a touch before rifling home via the underside of the bar.Gordon had to make a fingertip save from a curling David Wotherspoon free-kick as the Perth side attempted to respond but the champions were now in full flow and doubled the advantage five minutes before the berak.

    Rogic played in Forrest and the winger’s shot was saved by Mannus and the keeper reacted well to block Griffiths on the rebound but he could do nothing as Sinclair eventually swept the loose the ball into the corner.The floodgates had now opened at McDiarmid Park and four minutes later Forrest added number three. Driving down the right, the winger turned Paul Paton inside out before beating Mannus with measured finish.

    After the Scotland internationalist had celebrated his superb strike with his team-mates in front of the Celtic fans behind the goal, he was mystifyingly booked by referee Craig Thomson, despite not entering the crowd.Paton’s frustrations got the better of him on the stroke of half-time when he sent Rogic sprawling 20 yards from goal with a rash tackle, earning him a yellow card. The resultant free-kick from Griffiths was heading for the far corner until Mannus got his hands to the ball.

    The points were now effectively sealed and Rogic nearly inflicted further punishment early in the second half with a booming drive that cannoned off the bar with Mannus helpless.Both teams made a number of substitutions and the bookings count mounted up as the game looked to be petering out, though Celtic still looked the more threatening team.With seven minutes left on the clock, however, Swanson went down in the box under Liam Henderson’s challenge and Thomson pointed to the spot, with Swanson converting.

    And when McLean bundled in a cross from the right six minutes later, suddenly, Celtic had to refocus for the closing seconds, but Christie’s low finish ensured there would be no late nerves for the visitors.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Toure, O’Connell, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (Henderson 60); Forrest (Christie 71), Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 55)

    Not Used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Christie, Sviatchenko, McGregor,

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-1-4-1) Mannus; Foster, McKay, Shaugnessy, Easton; Paton; Alston (Craig 54), Wotherspoon (Kane 65), Davidson, Swanson; MacLean

    Not Used: Clark, Gordon, Cummins, McLaren, Comrie


    b3d3421d513a994efb1d0dbdf20438c4

    UEFA Champions League

    Play-off first-leg

    Wednesday August 17, 2016

    Celtic Park

    CELTIC…5

    (Rogic 9, Griffiths 39, 45, Dembele 73, Brown 86)

    HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA…2

    (Maranhao 55, Mellikson 57)

    CELTIC will head into next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off second leg with Hapoel Be’er Sheva with a three-goal advantage after they overcame the Israeli side 5-2 in an enthralling play-off first-leg clash at Paradise.

    Three goals in a scintillating first 45 minutes from Brendan Rodgers’ team looked to have put the tie firmly in the Hoops’ control after Tom Rogic found the net inside 10 minutes before Leigh Griffiths rattled in a quick-fire double before half-time.

    However, two goals in two minutes after the restart from the visitors reduced Celtic’s advantage but a pin-point header from substitute Moussa Dembele gave the Bhoys a two-goal cushion before captain Scott Brown re-established the three-goal advantage with a volley into the net with just five minutes left.

    The skipper’s strike marked an incredible conclusion to a dramatic contest and has Celtic in pole position to qualify for the group stages.After a rousing reception to the official UEFA Champions League anthem at Paradise before kick-off, Celtic set about the task of getting in front in the tie and it took them just over eight minutes to do so after an impressive start to the game.

    Brown was first to try his luck with a powerful shot from the left of the box but David Goresh in the Be’er Sheva goal did well to tip the effort wide. There was nothing he could do about Celtic’s opener, however, after Griffiths picked out the run of Sinclair with a delightful chipped pass into the winger’s path.

    Goresh came out to meet the forward and wiped him out with a thumping challenge. The ball broke to Rogic, who curved a left-footed shot past the Be’er Sheva goalkeeper and his stranded defence into the empty net.Paradise erupted and willed the Bhoys on for another goal while Goresh was booked for his challenge on Sinclair.

    The anticipated response from Be’er Sheva after conceding so early saw the visitors attempt to pass their way through the Celtic midfield, but Kolo Toure was a rock at the heart of the defence, with the Ivorian centre-half claiming every high ball and putting his body in front of any hint of a shot from Barak Bakhar’s side.

    The 35-year-old was also majestic going forward, breaking free from defence into midfield at will and with purpose, and it was from one such run that the Bhoys doubled their lead just before half-time. Toure strode forward confidently, dancing past challenges before feeding the ball to Sinclair, who, in turn, found James Forrest out wide.

    The winger delivered an excellent cross to the back post where Griffiths arrived like a bolt of lightning to power an unstoppable header into the net.A brilliant first-half was then made even better when Griffiths curled a sensational free-kick from the right corner of the box into the top corner of Goresh’s net to put the Bhoys thoroughly, and deservedly, in charge at half-time.

    However, Celtic’s lead then dissolved in the space of two minutes in the second-half when first Lucio Maranhao lashed a left-footed shot past Craig Gordon at the near post to make it 3-1, before captain, Maor Melikson smashed a first-time shot low beyond the out-stretched hand of Gordon.

    Conceding two goals in two minutes shocked the Bhoys and they made a double switch in the wake of the goals, withdrawing Callum McGregor and Mikael Lustig for Nir Bitton and Saidy Janko. Brendan Rodgers then made his final play to extend Celtic’s slender lead by switching Rogic with Dembele with 20 minutes left.

    And the Hoops forward took only two minutes to make an impact, heading home a Griffiths corner to make it 4-2. The forward looked in the mood for more as he fired another effort off the side netting but Be’er Sheva didn’t wilt, with the quick reactions of Gordon responsible for stopping Maharan Radi’s goal-bound header.

    It was Celtic who would have the final say, however, with Hoops captain Brown restoring the Scottish champions’ three-goal advantage with an angled volley from the edge of the box with five minutes left. And they almost grabbed a sixth goal when Scott Sinclair curged through on goal, but he was denied by GoreshThe Bhoys had to play through an agonising four minutes of injury-time as the Paradise faithful watched the clock countdown but the Hoops held on to their lead confidently to head into next Tuesday’s return leg in control of the tie.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Janko 63), Toure, O’Connell, Tierney; Brown, McGregor (Bitton 60); Forrest, Rogic (Dembele70), Sinclair; Griffiths.

    Not used: Fasan, Christie, Sviatchenko, Henderson

    HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA (5-4-1) Goresh; Bitton, Hoban (Buzaglo 79), Taha, Tzedek, Davidzada; Melikson, Radi (Broun 85), Ogu, Nwakaeme; Maranhao (Sahar 67).

    Not used: Haimov, Turjman, Ohayon, Shabtai


    tom-rogic-celtic-scotland_3761838


    Scottish League Cup

    Round of 16

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday August 10, 2016

    CELTIC…5

    (Rogic 20, 76 Dembele 34 [pen], 64, Sinclair 61)

    MOTHERWELL…0

    CELTIC cruised into the quarter-finals of the Scottish League Cup with a comfortable 5-0 win over Motherwell at Paradise. On a damp and dreary evening in Glasgow, Brendan Rodgers’ team sent the home fans away happy with a confident display full of attacking verve and creativity, as well as a string of goals.

    Tom Rogic opened the scoring with a full-blooded volley 20 minutes in after excellent set-up play by Callum McGregor before Moussa Dembele doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Scott Sinclair was pushed off the ball in the box by Richard Tait.

    Sinclair curled in the third from inside the box after the restart and Dembele added the fourth, powering the ball through the Motherwell keeper’s legs after good work by Sinclair. The finishing touch was then applied by Rogic, who tapped home James Forrest’s parried shot to put the Celts comfortably through to the quarter-final draw.

    The Hoops started the game in typical style, passing well and using the width of the pitch with Sinclair, one of four changes from the win over Hearts, impressing on his home debut in the opening stages.

    The first-half had the traditional look of a standard league match at Paradise with Celtic controlling possession and winning corners while Motherwell’s packed defence sat back to soak up attacks. What differed from recent seasons, however, was the Hoops’ variety in their approach to breaking the deadlock, with players swapping positions freely and altering the pace of the game to open up Motherwell.

    And their patience was rewarded on 20 minutes when Rogic sensationally opened the scoring with a powerful finish from close-range. The attacker was expertly picked out by a wonderfully-weighted chip from McGregor, allowing Rogic to control in the box with his right and fire home with his left emphatically into the roof of the net.

    The Australian looked hungry for more and could have doubled his tally less than 10 minutes later but Craig Samson saved his curling shot before Moussa Dembele saw a rebounded effort deflected off the bar.

    It wasn’t long before the second goal did come, however, as the lively Sinclair was pushed over in the box by Tait as Celtic piled forward, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Dembele to take the kick and the Frenchman made no mistake, curling a high shot into the top left corner to put the Celts totally in charge.

    Rogic and Sinclair threatened to add further goals before half-time but the agile reactions of Samson kept his side in the game at the break.

    Normal service resumed after the restart and Scott Brown, Forrest, Sinclair and Dembele could all have added more goals were it not for Samson’s heroics in goal.

    The Bhoys were not to be denied a third, however, and their perseverance was rewarded again when Sinclair made it two goals in two games by drifting inside from the left edge of the box to place a curling, right-footed shot beyond the motionless Motherwell keeper to put the Celts on easy street on the hour.

    The Steelmen retreated to their own box to limit the damage but that just invited the Hoops on and the home side were soon 4-0 up when Dembele rifled the ball through Samson’s legs after his initial shot was parried.

    The comfortable cushion allowed Brendan Rodgers to hand Jamie McCart his competitive debut for the Celts as he replaced Mikael Lustig in defence before Liam Henderson came on for Brown, offering the skipper a rare rest.

    Both players were only on the pitch a matter of minutes before Celtic made it a fantastic five when Forrest’s angled shot was parried into the path of Rogic, with the Australian slotting home with ease from six yards out.

    Anthony Ralston’s introduction 10 minutes from time in place of Saidy Janko saw the Celts see out the game with six Youth Academy players on the field at full-time and ease into the quarter-finals of the competition.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko (Ralston 81), Lustig (McCart 69), O’Connell, Izaguirre; McGregor, Brown (Henderson 73); Forrest, Rogic, Sinclair; Dembele.

    Not used: Fasan, Ciftci, Armstrong, Christie, Ajer

    MOTHERWELL (5-3-2) Samson; Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Hammell (Ainsworth 46), Chalmers; Cadden, Lasley, Clay; McDonald, Johnson.

    Not used: Brill, Laing, Lucas, Thomas, Ferguson, Mackin


    Hearts-vs.-Celtic


    Scottish Premiership

    Tynecastle, Edinburgh

    Sunday, August 7, 2016

    HEARTS…1

    (Walker pen.36)

    CELTIC…2

    (Forrest 8, Sinclair 81)

    SCOTT Sinclair came off the bench to score a dramatic debut winner for Celtic against Hearts as the champions made a perfect start to their title defence in a pulsating tussle at Tynecastle.

    James Forrest had handed the Hoops an early lead with a precise finish from 18 yards but a contentious Jamie Walker penalty saw the home side level the match before the break.

    But then the new Bhoy, who only completed his move from Aston Villa hours earlier, sent the travelling support into raptures after he converted Leigh Griffiths’ low cross with nine minutes left on the clock.

    The 27-year-old was named among the substitutes, while fellow new recruit Kolo Toure made his first start for the Bhoys in the capital after making his bow as a second-half substitute in Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 victory over FC Astana in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

    The inclusion of the former Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal defender was one of two changes to the team that prevailed against the Kazakh side in the crucial European clash.

    Celtic’s last-action hero, Moussa Dembele, who won and then converted from the penalty spot in the dying seconds of the match in midweek also came into the team. Saidy Janko and the injured Patrick Roberts were the two players to drop out.

    Amid the traditional raucous atmosphere at Tynecastle, it was the home side who made the initial attacking forays, with Conor Sammon a lively presence up front, forcing a corner inside the opening minute and then shooting wide from distance.

    But Celtic weathered that early storm and clinically broke the deadlock with their first effort on goal. Callum McGregor was the instigator, cutting in from the right and drawing a foul on the edge of the area. With referee John Beaton playing on, Forrest collected the loose ball and curled a shot beyond Jack Hamilton into the far corner, much to the delight of wide-man and the Hoops faithful.

    Another burst from Sammon almost gave Walker a sight of goal as Hearts rallied quickly but Kieran Tierney was across quickly to make a timely tackle.

    Both teams were pressing all the pitch all over the pitch as the match continued to be played at a furious pace, and Sammon and Arnaud Djoum saw yellow for the hosts for late tackles on Toure and Scott Brown respectively.

    Former Celt Tony Watt spurned an opportunity to level the match midway through the half when heading wide from Callum Paterson’s pinpoint cross.

    Moments later, Griffiths could have doubled Celtic’s advantage after he fastened onto Craig Gordon’s long clearance but the hit-man’s first-time lob crept over.

    Boosted by his goal, Forrest was playing with drive and purpose and a neat piece of skill from the winger saw him beat his man and try his luck from the angle of the box. His shot took a deflection and Hamilton had to make an impressive reflex save to tip the ball wide. From the resultant corner, Toure was close to making contact.

    But in keeping with the end-to-end nature of the game, Hearts then equalised. Walker went down in the box under Tierney’s challenge and referee Beaton pointed the spot. Walker picked himself up and dispatched the penalty into the corner.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side came close have restoring their lead in quick-fire fashion as Dembele was denied by Hamilton from an acute angle, with Griffiths’ rebound hacked off the line by Souttar.

    Mikael Lustig looked to be denied a good penalty shout when he was hauled down in the box from a corner, before Souttar then came to his side’s rescue again as he blocked a fizzing cross from Forrest that was heading into the danger area.

    At the other end, Gordon was forced into action twice by Watt as both teams went in all-square at the interval.

    The Hoops burst from the blocks at the start of the second half and some strong play from Brown saw him muscle Djoum off the ball and play in Griffiths, whose right-footed effort was saved by Hamilton.

    The striker also saw a curling free-kick saved by Hamilton after Dembele had been pulled back by Igor Rossi, a foul which earned the defender a booking.

    Griffiths shot wide from distance, before Dembele’s strength and pace saw a fifth Hearts player enter the book in the form of Paterson. The resultant free-kick was taken from Griffiths but the Hearts wall did its job.

    Aside from Sammon shooting straight at Gordon, it had been all Celtic at this stage in the contest but with a second goal elusive, Brendan Rodgers introduced Sinclair for his Hoops bow just beyond the hour mark.

    In the 68th minute, a swift Celtic counter-attack saw Lustig cut the ball back for Dembele but the striker was thwarted by another last-ditch block by Souttar.

    But Brendan Rodgers’ men were not to be denied as Sinclair ensured a dream debut by beating Hamilton with a deft finish from Griffiths’ low delivery, sealing a well-deserved three points for the champions.

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon; Lustig, Toure, O’Connell (Rogic 73) Tierney; Forrest, McGregor, Brown, Armstrong (Sinclair 61); Griffiths (Janko 83), Dembele

    Not Used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Johansen

    HEARTS (4-4-2) Hamilton; Paterson, Souttar,  Rossi, Rherras; Walker, Djoum, Cowie, Nicholson; Watt (Muirhead 61), Sammon (Buaben 78)

    Not Used: Noring, Oshaniwa, Smith, Zanatta, Paton


    Celtic-vs.-FC-Astana


    UEFA Champions League

    Third qualifying round second-leg

    Celtic Park

    Wednesday August 3, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Griffiths 45+2’ [Pen], Dembele 90+3 [Pen])

    FC ASTANA…1

    (Ibraimi 62)

    Celtic win 3-2 on aggregate

    CELTIC booked their place in the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League with a last gasp penalty from Moussa Dembele on a night of drama at Paradise.

    After taking the lead on the stroke of half-time through Leigh Griffiths’ spot kick, Astana levelled after the hour mark when Craig Gordon was caught off his line after making a clearance, allowing Agim Ibraimi to loop a ball into the net.

    With the game poised at 1-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate, the action spilled from end-to-end, but the decisive strike came from Dembele, who was felled in the area as he attempted to pull the trigger in injury-time. The Frenchmen showed a steely determination to dust himself off and take the spot kick, however, and his first goal for the Bhoys gave Brendan Rodgers’ team the win to take them into the final round of qualifying matches before the group stages.

    Friday’s draw will determine Celtic’s opponents in the play-offs but the Hoops will go in with confidence following another action-packed evening at Paradise.

    With Celtic leading the tie on aggregate through the away goals rule, there was no immediate need for the Bhoys to go in search of the opening goal but that didn’t stop them from starting on the front foot, pushing Astana back towards their own box.

    The opening 20 minutes were punctuated with Celtic attacks, long balls into the box, neat passing and fouls by Astana, with Igor Shitov booked for an elbow on James Forrest – one of two Celtic changes from the first-leg  –  but there were no clear cut chances for the Bhoys.

    Brendan Rodgers’ team remained resolute, however, and a clever through ball from Callum McGregor to Leigh Griffiths opened up a sight of goal for the striker, who fizzed an effort just wide of the right post.

    The Hoops were then dealt a massive blow when Patrick Roberts was forced off after only 30 minutes through injury. The winger was replaced by Stefan Johansen, and the Celts went back about building their momentum again but the loss of Roberts took the sting out of the game and the home crowd.

    The Bhoys finally got back on the front foot and carved out their best chance of the half when McGregor held off his marker to supply a pass to Stuart Armstrong 20 yards out, but the Astana keeper, Eric, got down well to save the midfielder’s right-footed shot.

    Celtic Park was then on its feet as Kieran Tierney was brought down in the box on the stroke of half-time and a penalty was awarded to the Celts. The full-back was caught by Dimitri Shmoko just inside the area with the defender booked for the challenge, allowing Griffiths to step up the spot and smash a thunderous penalty to Eric’s left and put the Hoops 1-0 ahead on the night, with Junior Kabananga also booked for his protests after the goal.

    There was no halting Celtic’s momentum after the restart with Johansen supplying a perfectly-weighted pass through the Astana defence for Griffiths, but he rattled the side netting, before Tierney and Forrest were foiled in the box as the Hoops pressed forward.

    The Kazakhstani side had the ball in the back of the net from a header after a free-kick on 55 minutes but the linesman’s flag came to Celtic’s rescue, cancelling the out the goal for offside. Stanimir Stoilov’s side were almost in again shortly after from another free-kick but the Hoops defended well at the second attempt.

    The chances were cause enough for Brendan Rodgers to shuffle his team, however, handing Kolo Toure his Celtic debut, with Stuart Armstrong coming off for the Ivorian defender.

    Disaster then struck moments later when Astana levelled the tie on the hour mark as substitute Agim Ibraimi took advantage of a headed clearance from Gordon to loop a shot over the keeper with the Celtic keeper outside his area.

    The Hoops responded with shots from Tierney and Forrest, reacting well to conceding, but the game remained precariously poised at 1-1 as it approached the last 10 minutes, with the Bhoys switching Forrest with Moussa Dembele for their final change.

    The prospect of extra-time hung in the air as the game crept towards its conclusion but destiny came calling for the Bhoys when Dembele was fouled in the area on the 90-minute mark.

    Tension filled the air, Igor Shitov was dismissed for the foul, but Celtic’s French striker stepped up with calmness and composure to slot home a dramatic injury-time winner for the Scottish champions and secure their place in the play-off round of the competition.

    It was an incredible end to a dramatic European night at Paradise and Brendan Rodgers’ side will now discover their play-off opponents in Friday’s draw.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Janko, Lustig, O’Connell, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Armstrong (Toure 60); Roberts (Johansen 32), Griffiths, Forrest (Dembele 75)

    Not used: Fasan, Izaguirre, Ciftci, Rogic

    FC ASTANA (4-3-3) Eric; Shitov, Logvinenko, Anicic, Shomko;, Muzhikov, Canas, Beysebekov; Twumasi, Nurgaliyan (Ibraimi 57), Kabananga

    Not used: Mokin, Tagybergen, Despotovic, Najaryan, Maliy, Kulbekov


    CoPdtipWcAAOenX


    UEFA Champions League

    Third qualifying round first-leg

    Astana Arena, Astana, Kazakhstan

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016

    FC ASTANA…1

    (Logvinekno 19)

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 78)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ late strike sealed a priceless 1-1 draw for Celtic away to FC Astana in the first-leg of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

    The striker lashed home from the edge of the area with 12 minutes left on the clock after brilliant work from Patrick Roberts on the byline.

    After making an encouraging start, Brendan Rodgers’ side had trailed to Yuri Logvinekno’s first-half header and they had Craig Gordon to thank for keeping them in contention, the Scotland internationalist making a series of superb saves, before Griffiths silenced the home crowd with a fantastic finish.

    Having banked a valuable away goal, Hoops will fancy their chances of completing the job next week in Paradise, where they will be backed in their quest by a partisan crowd.

    Irish youngster Eoghan O’Connell made his European bow for the Bhoys as the manager made two changes to the team that started in the previous round last week against Lincoln Red Imps. The Celtic Youth Academy graduate, who impressed in Saturday’s friendly fixture with Leicester City, replaced the injured Erik Sviatchenko.

    Efe Ambrose was also restored the backline at the expense of Saidy Janko, with Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney filling the full-back positions. Up front, Griffiths and new signing Moussa Dembele continued their partnership.

    Roared on by a vocal home crowd, Astana looked to take the initiative from the kick-off, launching a number of long balls towards the reshuffled Hoops rearguard, but they dealt with that early bombardment with relative comfort, Gordon not having a save to make in the opening 15 minutes.

    When they did get on the ball, and the Hoops were having plenty of possession in the early stages, they were moving it around confidently, fashioning some promising positions around the home side’s box.

    Griffiths had the first effort of the game when he dragged a shot wide from 20 yards and some incisive play from the lively Roberts gave Dembele a sight of goal, but his shot was charged down by Igor Shitov.

    Everything looked to be going according to plan for the visitors but then the Kazakhstani champions broke the deadlock with their first chance of the game.

    A swift break down the right for the visitors saw the ball crossed in low. Although Ambrose was positioned in the middle to intercept it, the ball zipped through his legs on the slick surface but, thankfully, striker Junior Kabananga was unable to capitalise. However the reprieve was short-lived. From the resultant corner, centre-half Yuri Logvinekno was left unmarked to head home.

    Celtic sought an instant response and Dembele looked to be bearing down on goal when he fastened on to Griffiths’ flick on until he was sent tumbling to the ground by an Astana defender, though referee Paolo Mazzoleni deemed it to be a fair challenge.

    Emboldened by their opening goal, the hosts were attacking with greater vigour and Gordon had to make two excellent saves to keep them at bay. Firstly, he clawed away a spinning shot from Azat Nurgaliyev, who had reacted quickest to the loose ball, and then he was well-placed to block Kabananga’s shot from an acute angle.

    Roberts looked the most likely outlet for the Hoops, leaving defenders in his wake several times on foraging runs down the right, yet the majority of Celtic’s attacks were fizzling out with the final pass. Dembele did manage to get on the end of Tierney’s cross, though he couldn’t get enough purchase on the header to divert it on target.

    Both sides started the second-half with plenty of enterprise, aware of the importance of the next goal. Midfielder Roger Canas had the first effort of the second half, lashing over from distance before Callum McGregor had a shot blocked at the edge of the area after another jinking run from Roberts.

    Astana were looking the more menacing at this stage, however, and Gordon had to react quickly to stop a swerving shot from Patrick Twumasi and then the Hoops had a lucky escape when Nurgaliyev’s drive cannoned off the top of the bar.

    Ambrose saw a header deflected wide from McGregor’s corner and Armstrong couldn’t find the target after darting in from the left as match continued to flow from end to end.

    The aerial route almost proved profitable for the Kazakh side midway through the second half when Ambrose sliced Canas’ header over his own bar.

    But Celtic had doggedly stayed in the tie and they came up with the crucial away goal in the 78th minute. Roberts was the provider, stealing possession on the byline and then teeing up Griffiths, who showcased his predatory instincts with a blistering strike that flashed past Nenad Eric.

    Stunned, Astana threw men forward in search of another goal and Roberts came close to a quick-fire second for Celtic on the break when he curled wide.

    And the Scottish champions survived a late barrage by the home side, with Canas heading over in stoppage time, to secure a battling draw that puts them in a favourable position ahead of the return match in Glasgow.

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, O’Connell Tierney; Roberts, Brown, McGregor (Rogic 77), Armstrong (Forrest 72); Dembele (Bitton 62), Griffiths

    Not Used: Fasan, Janko, Izaguirre, Ciftci

    FC ASTANA (4-2-3-1) Eric; Shitov, Logvinenko, Anicic, Shomko; Maksimovic, Canas; Beysebekov (Ibraimi 85), Nurgaliyev (Muzhikov 62), Twumasi; Kabananga (Despotovic 86)

    Not Used: Mokin, Tagybergen, Najaryan, Maliy


    Celtic-v-Lincoln-Red-Imps-UEFA-Champions-League-Second-Qualifying-Round-Second-Leg (2)


    UEFA Champions League

    Second Qualifying Round, second-leg

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Wednesday, July 20, 2016

    CELTIC…3

    (Lustig 23, Griffiths 25, Roberts 29)

    LINCOLN RED IMPS…0

    (Celtic win 3-1 on aggregate)

    CELTIC cruised into the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after sweeping aside Lincoln Red Imps 3-0 in Paradise to complete a 3-1 aggregate victory. All the damage was done in the first-half as the Hoops ran riot, determined to atone for last week’s shock defeat in Gibraltar.Mikael Lustig broke the deadlock before Leigh Griffiths opened his account for the season with a trademark fizzing long-range strike. Fittingly, the best goal of the evening came from the outstanding Patrick Roberts, who finished with style after a one-two with Callum McGregor.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side will now meet FC Astana in the next round, with the first-leg taking place in Kazakhstan next week. Attack was the message from the manager as Celtic lined up in a fluid 3-5-2 formation in front of a huge home crowd, with Roberts and James Forrest deployed on the flanks in place of Tom Rogic and Ryan Christie to provide natural width.

    Lustig made a competitive return to action to partner Erik Sviatchenko and Kieran Tierney in defence, while McGregor and Stuart Armstrong came into the midfield following their impressive displays in the weekend’s 2-1 friendly win over VfL Wolfsburg. Saidy Janko, Efe Ambrose and Nir Bitton were the others to drop out.

    From the first whistle, Celtic poured forward with purpose, pace and intensity as they immediately pinned the visitors back deep in their own area. In the opening minutes, Roberts had a shot blocked in the box and Griffiths slid the ball across goal, forcing Jospeh Chipolina to knock the ball behind for a corner. Moussa Dembele was next to threaten as he prodded the ball goalwards after Armstrong had got a touch to Forrest’s cross.

    And in the 10th minute, Celtic looked to have been presented with a golden chance to break the deadlock when Armstrong was fouled by Ryan Casciaro as he burst into the box, leading referee Bartosz Frankowski to point to the spot.

    It looked a definite penalty but after consulting with his linesman, he awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box instead, which Griffiths blasted over. The onslaught continued – Armstrong had a rasping drive saved by Raul Navas and then McGregor saw his deflected drive cannon off the bar with Navas beaten. McGregor came close yet again when he got a toe to Tierney’s cutback but Navas came to his side’s rescue with a superb reaction save.

    Roberts was terrorising the Lincoln defence, particularly left-back Joseph Chipolina, and frustration got the better of the defender when he took out the English youngster with a crunching tackle, earning him a yellow card.

    From the resulting free-kick, Celtic finally broke Lincoln’s resistance. Armstrong swung a cross into the mix and after it had ricocheted around the penalty box, the loose ball fell to Lustig, who finished with precision. A sublime piece of skill from Roberts gave Dembele a sight of goal but Bernardo Lopes got in the way of his shot as Celtic refused to take their foot of the gas.And goal number two swiftly arrived. Roberts was again involved, darting down the right and feeding Griffiths, who cut inside before rilfling beyond Navas.

    The Scottish champions were rampant now as they scored their third goal in the space of six minutes – and it was the best yet. Roberts left several Lincoln players for dead, collected a return pass from McGregor and then slotted into the far corner. The hardworking Dembele almost added a fourth before the break after collecting Lustig’s cutback, wriggling clear and steering a shot on target but Navas managed to claw the ball away.

    The Gibraltar side had barely ventured forward in the opening 45 minutes, but they caused a scare four minutes after the restart when Lee Cascario almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up to reach a long ball over the top ahead of Sviatchenko and Craig Gordon, but the striker could only steer his shot wide.

    Celtic, while enjoying plenty of possession, weren’t operating at the same tempo as the first half. As a result openings weren’t as plentiful, though Dembele was unlucky after wriggling clear in the box and seeing his final effort deflected into Navas’ arms.

    Some credit should be apportioned to Lincoln, however, who responded to being ripped apart with real spirit, committing more men forward and stringing some passes together without ever seriously troubling Gordon. Midway through the half, the Bhoys suddenly sprang back into life as they created a flurry of chances.

    Griffiths headed wide from Lustig’s perfectly-weighted ball over the top, Dembele drove wide from an acute angle and the same player was then unable to beat Navas after being supplied by Roberts. As the game entered its closing stages, the home side should have inflicted further punishment on Lincoln, with Griffiths coming closest when he was denied by Navas after racing through on goal. But all that ultimately mattered was that Celtic had maintained their Champions League dream for this season.

    CELTIC (3-5-2) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko,Tierney (Ajer 59); Roberts, Brown, McGregor, Armstrong, Forrest (Izaguirre 61); Dembele (Ciftci 76), Griffiths

    Not Used: Fasan, Christie, Rogic, Janko

    LINCOLN RED IMPS (5-4-1) Navas; Garcia, R. Casciaro, R. Chipolina, Bernardo Silva, J. Chipolina; Walker (Livramento 90) Patino, Calderon (Bardon 90), K. Casciaro; L. Casciaro (Cabrera 90)

    Not Used: Soler, Torrilla, Rojas, K.Chipolina


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    Pre-Season Friendly

    Celtic Park

    Saturday July 16, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (McGregor 21, Christie 62

    VfL WOLFSBURG…1

    (Caligiuri 12)

    RYAN Christie’s second-half goal gave Brendan Rodgers a winning debut at Paradise as Celtic overcame VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 in a pre-season friendly.

    It was a historic day at the home of the champions as the new manager took charge of his team at Celtic Park for the first time, while the new rail seating section was also opened, making Paradise the first stadium in Britain to host such a feature.

    The vocal crowd which filled the new section gave a rapturous reception to their new manager, as did the rest of the crowd before kick-off but they had to watch their side come from behind in an exciting first-half as Daniel Caligiuri’s deflected shot broke the deadlock after 11 minutes.

    Callum McGregor equalised 10 minutes later with an excellent right-footed shot before second-half substitute Christie gave Celtic the lead just after the hour mark.

    The match was an effective test for the full Celtic squad, who will now look to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Lincoln Red Imps when they meet in the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League second round qualifier on Wednesday.

    Celtic started at a high tempo, with Stuart Armstrong at the centre of play, orchestrating a string of early moves down the left in a dominant opening 10 minutes.

    However, Wolfsburg took the lead against the run of play as Caligiuri’s shot from distance took a wicked deflection off Eoghan O’Connell and past Craig Gordon in what was the German side’s first attack.

    Erik Sviatchenko was also forced off early on after suffering a head knock in a clash with the Wolfsburg keeper. The Dane was down for a while as he received treatment on the pitch but he thankfully got to his feet before being replaced by Kristoffer Ajer as a precaution.

    Celtic then deservedly levelled the game in emphatic fashion through McGregor, who drove his side forward on a lightening quick counter-attack. The midfielder’s attempted pass to Moussa Dembele rebounded back at his feet off the Wolfsburg defence and the 23-year-old scored a deft finish past Diego Benaglio with his right foot on 21 minutes.

    Both sides continued to attack in the wake of the goal and could have added to the goal tally before the interval. A slack back-pass from Lustig to Gordon allowed Didavi to close in on the Celts goal but the keeper saved well at the attacker’s feet. Dembele then turned the Wolfsburg defence inside out before lashing a shot at Benaglio, which was parried wide.

    The champions arguably had the better of the chances in the opening 45 minutes but remained level at half-time and came out for the restart with a new line-up as the manager utilised the depth of his squad.

    Wolfsburg also made five changes of their own for the second-half and the Celts almost caught the German side’s new-look defence out straight from the restart as a neat interchange of play from Nadir Ciftci and Ryan Christie allowed the former to test replacement Wolfsburg keeper Koen Casteels with a stinging shot.

    The Wolves regrouped and passed the ball well for the following 10 minutes but Celtic looked dangerous any time they went forward and were soon in front thanks to the nimble footwork of substitute Ryan Christie, who bounced his way between two visiting defenders into the box and despatched a low, left-footed shot into the corner to make it 2-1 just after the hour mark.

    The pace of the match gradually slowed as it reached its conclusion but there was still a chance for Christie to aim for a second in the dying seconds, but Casteels was behind his curling shot, and the match finished 2-1 to the Celts.

    CELTIC (4-4-2) Gordon (Fasan 46); Lustig (Fisher 46), Sviatchenko (Ajer 18 [McCart 76]), O’Connell (Ambrose 46), Tierney (Janko 46); Roberts (Rogic 46), McGregor (Forrest 46), Brown (Henderson 46), Armstrong (Allan 46); Griffiths (Christie 46), Dembele (Ciftci 46)

    WOLFSBURG (4-3-3): Benaglio (Casteels 46); Seguin, Bruma (Ascues 46), Knoche (Dante 46), Schäfer (Träsch 46); Guilavogui,


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    UEFA Champions League second qualifying round

    Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar

    Tuesday, July 12, 2016

    LINCOLN RED IMPS…1

    (L. Casciaro 48)

    CELTIC…0

    CELTIC were left stunned in Gibraltar after Lee Casciaro’s early second-half goal gave Lincoln Red Imps a shock 1-0 win over the Scottish champions.

    The Hoops dominated possession and hit the bar twice through Leigh Griffiths but they now head into the second-leg next week in Paradise having to overcome an unexpected one-goal deficit to reach the third qualifying round.

    Brendan Rodgers made just the one change to the team that started against Maribor three days ago, with Tom Rogic coming in for the injured Stefan Johansen as the manager switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

    The match settled into a predicable pattern straight from the kick-off as Celtic dominated possession and the home side sat in and defended in depth, leaving Lee Casciaro with the unenviable position of lone striker.

    For all the Hoops’ control of the ball in the early stages, however, they failed to test Raul Navas in the Lincoln goal, with the sticky artificial surface not aiding matters.

    Ryan Christie dragged a shot well wide from distance and Leigh Griffiths made two incisive runs down the right, but there were no takers for his inviting crosses.

    This was proving the story of the first-half for the Scottish champions as they failed to capitalise on several promising positions.

    And the first shot on target came from the home side on a rare foray forward as winger Liam Walker cut in from the right and pulled the trigger, but Craig Gordon was well placed at his near post to make a comfortable save.

    Moussa Dembele did have the ball in the net in the 32nd minute when he headed home Scott Brown’s free-kick but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul on Navas. It looked a harsh decision.

    After collecting a return pass from Christie, Rogic did find the target but it lacked power to trouble Navas as Celtic continude to probe for openings.

    Dembele was becoming a greater threat and he brought out a smart save from Navas with a fierce shot from the edge of the box after some good close control. The young striker, celebrating his 20th birthday today, came close again as half-time approached when he darted into the box but this time he couldn’t direct his shot on target.

    Griffiths flashed a shot into Navas’ arms as Celtic upped the tempo as the second half got underway, but three minutes after the restart they were stunned as Lincoln took the lead. From an innocuous long ball, Lee Casciaro managed to evade the attentions of Efe Ambrose and his miss-hit shot bobbled over Gordon to send the home crowd into delirium.

    Antonio Calderon almost doubled the lead moments later but his curling shot crept narrowly over, while Walker and Yeray Patino also flashed in efforts as the Hoops regrouped after the shock of falling behind.

    Just before the hour-mark, the Bhoys were within inches of levelling the match as Janko burst into the box from the right and the cut the ball back into the box. The ball dropped for Griffiths, whose shot deflected on to the underside of the bar before being headed behind.

    Brendan Rodgers then made a double change, sending on Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest for Rogic and Christie. And the two subs combined in the 70th minute, with Forrest picking out Armstrong in the middle but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down.

    Griffiths, by now playing through the middle, came agonisingly close to an equaliser 12 minutes from time. Fouled on the edge of the area, he picked himself up and took the resultant free-kick but saw his thumping drive cannon off the bar. Nir Bitton was unable to convert the rebound.

    Celtic were now piling on the pressure – Sviatchenko headed wide from a corner and Kieran Tierney saw a shot blocked in the box falling Armstrong’s lay-off.

    Nadir Ciftci had also been introduced to the fray in place for Dembele and the striker was denied by an outstanding save from Navas as the game entered its closing stages. Tierney picked out the Turkish striker in the box and his header looked destined for the far corner until Navas’ acrobatic intervention.

    Despite some desperate late attacks, the visitors couldn’t fashion a goal, with Ciftci coming closest with another header following Janko’s delivery as the final whistle sparked huge celebrations from the Lincoln players and the home crowd.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Griffiths, Rogic (Armstrong 57), Christie (Forrest 57); Dembele (Ciftci 74)

    Not Used: Fasan, Lustig, McGregor, Roberts

    LINCOLN RED IMPS (5-4-1) Navas; Garcia, Casciaro, R. Chipolina, Morgardo, J. Chipolina; Walker (Bardon 87), Patino (G.Chipolina 90 +4), Calderon, K. Casciaro; L. Casciaro (Cabrera 74)Not Used: Soler,Rojas, Amaro


    SEASON 2016-17 MATCH REPORTS –ABOVE..HH


    72355-celtic-v-motherwell-team-news

    SPFL Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park

    Sunday May 15, 2016

    CELTIC…7

    (Tierney 21, Rogic 26, Lustig 28, Armstrong 50, Roberts 54, Christie 59, Aitchison 77)

    MOTHERWELL…0

    RONNY Deila was given a sensational seven-goal send-off at Paradise as his side ripped apart Motherwell on the final day of the season.The Norwegian’s side dazzled in the sunshine in front of a packed and expectant Celtic Park and gave the out-going manager a fitting goodbye as he departs the club after two years, two league titles and a League Cup.

    The incredible tally of goals started with Kieran Tierney’s first strike for the club and was followed up by goals from Tom Rogic and Mikael Lustig in the first-half. Only five minutes had lapsed in the second-half when Stuart Armstrong burst the net with a sensational volley before Patrick Roberts added a fifth and Ryan Christie capped off an excellent afternoon upfront with his first goal for the Celts.

    Second-half substitute Jack Aitchison, 16, then made history by becoming the club’s youngest debutant and he celebrated in style, scoring with his first touch to make it 7-0 to the Celts.The result was the perfect way for the club to celebrate their fifth SPFL Premiership title in a row and will no doubt allow the manager to return to his homeland with fond memories from his time in Glasgow.Five changes were made for the boss of the Bhoys’ final match in charge following the 2-1 loss to St Johnstone midweek. Logan Bailly, Saidy Janko, Emilio Izaguirre, Scott Allan and the suspended Leigh Griffiths all dropped out while Craig Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Rogic and Armstrong returned.

    Welcomed on to the pitch by a guard of honour from the Motherwell players, the Hoops started the match like champions and could have taken an early lead but Conor Ripley did well to deny Rogic, Armstrong and Christie inside the first 20 minutes.The Celts soon had their opener, however, after their incessant pressure and it came from the ever-industrious Tierney, who dispatched a clinical finish past Ripley after driving inside from the left flank.

    It was the full-back’s first strike for the club and the significance of the goal to the youngster was clear to see as he was smothered by his delighted team-mates.

    Patience and perseverance then paid off Rogic as he doubled Celtic’s lead five minutes later. Armstrong played a clever one-two with Christie to break into the box and although his curling shot came off the post with Ripley beaten, Rogic was on hand to poke the ball home and put the Celts two to the good with the Australian’s 10th goal for the club.Only 27 minutes had gone but the Hoops faithful were already in heaven, with Paradise united in the Huddle. And as the celebrations got underway Celtic won another corner which led to their third of the afternoon with Lustig ghosting in at the back post to head Armstrong’s set-piece through the legs of Gomis and put the champions firmly in control.

    Motherwell ripped up their match plan at half-time and came out for the restart with two changes – Kieran Kennedy replacing Luke Watt and Joe Chalmers replacing Lionel Ainsworth.Mark McGhee’s men looked more organised for a brief spell but it took just five minutes for Celtic to reassert their dominance after the interval, with Armstrong finally finding the back of the net with a thumping volley that angled into the corner of the goal from inside the box.Motherwell’s defence were being run ragged and the goals continued to come for the Celts as Roberts added a fifth, gathering McGregor’s pass 20 yards out before shifting onto his left and curling an exquisite finish past Ripley.

    Emilio Izaguirre’s introduction for Tierney as Celtic’s first sub kept the noise levels through the roof at Paradise as the home fans showed their appreciation for the Honduran left-back but they soon had even more to shout about when Christie finally scored his first goal for the club on the hour mark after brilliant hold-up play from Rogic.The Australian danced past two challenges on the edge of the box and slipped in a perfect pass for Christie, allowing the attacker to shoot first-time past Ripley with his left.

    History was then made as 16-year-old Jack Aitchison came on for Rogic, making him the youngest ever Celtic debutant and he took little time in writing his name further into the history books by scoring with his first touch.The teenager darted into the box after reading a deflected pass to perfection and he showed great composure to slot the ball past Ripley to make it a magnificent 7-0 to Celtic.It was a sensational way to conclude an emotionally-charged and entertaining afternoon at Paradise and gave departing manager Ronny Deila a host of happy memories to take with him back to Norway after two years at Celtic.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney (Izaguirre 55); McGregor, Johansen; Roberts, Rogic (Aitchison 75), Armstrong (Janko 84); Christie

    Not used: Bailly, Bitton, Allan, Forrest

    MOTHERWELL (4-4-2) Ripley; Watt, McManus, Hall, Watt (Kennedy 46); Cadden, Gomis, Pearson, Ainsworth (Chalmers 46); Moult, McDonald

    Not used: Samson, Laing, Leitch, Thomas, Turnbull

    Website man of the match: Stuart Armstrong


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    SPFL Scottish Premiership

    McDiarmid Park, Perth

    Wednesday May 11, 2016

    ST JOHNSTONE…2

    (MacLean 55, Cummins 78)

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 53)

    LEIGH Griffiths became only the eighth Celtic player in history to hit the 40-goal barrier in a single season but his strike wasn’t enough to prevent the champions going down to a 2-1 defeat away to St Johnstone.The hit-man broke the deadlock eight minutes into the second half with a fine run and finish and it looked as though the Hoops were on course for another victory in the penultimate game of the campaign.But Steven MacLean capitalised on a defensive error from Stefan Johansen to swiftly restore parity at McDiarmid Park.

    And with 12 minutes left on the clock, the home side completed the turnaround as substitute Graham Cummins found the net from close range after Efe Ambrose and Logan Bailly failed to deal with Joe Shaughnessy’s cross.But it was still the Celtic fans who were in full voice as the final whistle sounded and the players saluted the brilliant backing they had received in Perth and throughout another championship-winning season. Ryan Christie was handed his first Celtic start as Ronny Deila made seven changes to the team that defeated Aberdeen on Sunday to clinch a fifth successive title.

    The 21-year-old – who signed for the club last September from Inverness Caley Thistle before returning there on loan until January – had featured four times for the Hoops but all of those appearances have come from the bench.Christie replaced Tom Rogic in the No.10 role, with Bailly, Saidy Janko, Emilio Izaguirre, Johansen and Scott Allan also coming into the starting XI.Craig Gordon, Mikael Lustig, Charlie Mulgrew, Kieran Tierney, Nir Bitton and Stuart Armstrong were the other players to drop out.

    Teenager Anthony Ralston was named among the substitutes after impressing for the Development Side in recent weeks and he enjoyed a memorable evening by making his first-team debut late in the second half.While the match bogged down in the middle of the park, took until the 15th minute for Celtic to fashion the first meaningful chance when Christie picked out Griffiths from the byline but the striker’s goal-bound header was pushed away by goalkeeper Zander Clark.The Hoops, now getting to grips with the wholesale changes in personnel, seemed to be growing in ascendency at this juncture but then the home side burst into life with a flurry of chances.

    First, Bailly was penalised for handling outside his area near the touchline, and when Liam Craig fired in the resultant free-kick, the loose ball broke for Brian Easton who saw his shot cleared off the line.Moments later, Easton had another sight of goal as David Wotherspoon supplied him on the edge of the box from a corner but the full-back’s effort was deflected wide.Striker Chris Kane was next to threaten as he got in behind the Celtic defence to fasten onto a through ball but his angled drive flew beyond the far post.Having survived this spell of pressure, the Bhoys replied with a curling shot from Patrick Roberts that spun inches wide and a free-kick from Griffiths which was charged down.

    Izaguirre also saw a dangerous crossed punched clear by Clark but a breakthrough remained elusive before the break.Celtic upped the tempo as the second-half got underway, with Christie close to reaching Allan’s cross from the left.In the 53rd minute they opened the scoring thanks to a superb run and finish from Griffiths. Johansen supplied Scotland’s Player of the Year in the box and he evaded the clutches of several defenders, before calmly slotting the ball past Clark. However, less than two minutes later the Saints were gifted a leveller. Johansen was robbed in the box by MacLean and he chipped the ball over the stranded Bailly.

    That failed to dampen the spirits of the Hoops faithful, still intent on celebrating five-in-a-row, and the visitors’ attacking quartet of Roberts, Christie, Allan and Griffiths continued to link up to good effect and search for a route through the well-organised home rearguard

    Roberts and substitute Nir Bitton tried their luck from distance and Christie saw a shot saved by Clark but they couldn’t muster a second goal.And it was the Perth outfit who broke away to grab number two. Right-back Joe Shaughnessy galloped down the right wing and his swirling delivery was met by Ambrose as Bailly attempted to punch it clear.

    The ball dropped kindly for Graham Cummins who applied the finish.Celtic exerted some late pressure and Christie almost grabbed scored a last-gasp equaliser after Clark had spilled McGregors shot but Tommy Wright’s men held firm to secure maximum reward.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Bailly; Janko (Raltson 74) Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; McGregor, Johansen (Bitton 66); Roberts, Christie, Allan (Rogic 80); Griffiths

    Not Used: Fasan, Tierney, Armstrong, Forrest

    ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2) Clark; Shaughnessy, Anderson, Scobbie, Easton; Wotherspoon, Brown, Craig, Swanson (Doyle 90); Kane (Cummins 59), MacLean

    Not Used: Mannus, Sutton, Hurst, McCawl, Krachunov


    6-Prediksi-Skor-Heart-of-Midlothian-vs-Celtic-29-Oktober-2015


    Scottish Premiership

    Tynecastle, Edinburgh

    Saturday, 30 th April, 2016

    HEARTS…1

    (Dauda 57)

    CELTIC…3

    (Kazim-Richards 17, Roberts 67, Griffiths 85)

    CELTIC moved within touching distance of a historic fifth successive league title after second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts sealed a gutsy 3-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle. The result moved the Hoops 12 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, who must harvest a victory over Motherwell later today to deny Ronny Deila’s side the championship, though the Bhoys’ vastly superior goal difference means they already have one hand on the trophy.Colin Kazim-Richards deservedly opened the scoring for the visitors after neat touch and finish from Mikael Lustig’s cross.Celtic had been the better side in the first-half but the hosts rallied after the restart and equalised through Abiola Dauda’s run and finish.

    Patrick Roberts showed composure to put the Hoops back in front after charging down a defensive clearance and, fittingly, it was Griffiths who secured the points with his 39th goal of a sensational season, the hit-man rifling home at the near post after some tenacious closing down.The final was the spark of celebrations in front of the away end as the manager, backroom staff and the players saluted the jubilant Hoops faithful. The manager had made two changes to the team that were held by Ross County last week, with Efe Ambrose and Callum McGregor coming into the team at the expense of Charlie Mulgrew and Tom Rogic. The former missed out through injury, while the Australian internationalist was named among the substitutes.

    Space was a premium in the opening exchanges as both teams fought for supremacy and played at a furious tempo amid a raucous atmosphere.Gradually, Celtic began to string some passes together and carve a path through the sea of maroon and white. A neat interchange of passes in the 12th minute allowed Patrick Roberts to cut into the box from the right. His initial was shot was saved by Neil Alexander and the rebound was converted by McGregor but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.Moments later, Roberts found himself in the clear after being found by Nir Bitton. Again, Alexander came to his side’s rescue with a low save and the keeper reacted swiftly to tip over Leigh Griffiths’ rebound.An enterprising burst down he left from Kieran Tierney, in which he stormed clear of two Hearts players, fashioned the next opening for the champions but Griffiths was unable to direct his header on target.

    Prince Buaben saw yellow for catching Scott Brown’s head with arm and Roberts saw claims for a foul on him by Blazej Augustyn on the edge of the box waved away as the home side struggled to stem the tide.Eventually their resistance was broken. Roberts and McGregor worked the ball wide to the overlapping Mikael Lustig and his deep cross was met by Kazim-Richards, who chested the ball down and lashed past Alexander.That stung Hearts into offensive action and, after Arnaud Djoum had cut the ball back from the byline, Craig Gordon has to make a superb double save from Jamie Walker’s shot and the rebound from Juanma, through the striker was flagged for offside in any event.

    Although Celtic remained largely in control, aside from several corners, they weren’t crafting as many clear openings, with the match returning to its initial scrappy phase.Griffiths, however, was presented with a golden opportunity to double the advantage around five minutes before the interval. After Celtic had partially cleared a Hearts corner, Bitton blocked a shot and Griffiths took the loose ball in his stride on the halfway line and bore down on Alexander, but his low attempt took a touch off the keeper and trundled inches wide.Hearts made a double change at the break in a bid to get back into match, with Callum Paterson and Abiola Dauda replacing Augustyn and Don Cowie, and they started the second half with greater purpose.

    Within three minutes of the restart, Djoum drove through the middle and his deflected drive forced Gordon into a terrific reaction save.After Griffiths had dragged a shot off target at the other end, Robbie Neilson’s side threatened again from a corner, with Brown eventually getting the ball clear. Dauda then sent a half-volley narrowly wide. However, the substitute wasn’t to be denied and he levelled the match in the 57th minute. Showing strength and pace, he ploughed a path through the middle of Celtic rearguard, before flashing a low shot beyond Gordon.The champions responded with a Griffiths free-kick that was charged down by the wall and a looping header from Bitton that landed on the top of the net following a corner.

    Midway through the half, they dug deep to restore their lead. Roberts charged down a Hearts clearance before running through on goal and coolly rolling the ball under Alexander.Determined not to lose their advantage slip again, Celtic defended with resilience as the hosts’ attacking forays gradually petered out, and Griffiths’ ensured a nerve-free finish to proceedings, firing home at the near post after blocking another poor Hearts clearance.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Sviatchenko, Tierney; McGregor, Brown (Commons 90+3) Bitton; Roberts (Rogic 69), Griffiths (Griffiths 87), Kazim-Richards Not Used: Bailly, Christie, Izaguirre, Janko

    HEARTS (4-1-4-1) Alexander; Souttar, Ozturk, Augustyn (Paterson 46), Oshaniwa; Kitchen; Cowie (Dauda 46), Bauben (Nicholson 77), Djoum, Walker; Juanma Not Used: Hamilton, Pallardo, Reilly, McGhee


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    SPFL Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, April 24, 2016

    CELTIC…1

    (Griffiths 23)

    ROSS COUNTY…1

    (Murdoch 64)

    LEIGH Griffiths’ 38th goal of the season was only enough to secure Celtic a share of the spoils against Ross County in Paradise, though the champions did extend their lead in title race to nine points with four games remaining.The striker put the Hoops in front midway through the first-half with a fantastic strike from 18 yards but Ronny Deila’s side never built on that advantage and the visitors drew level in the second-half through Stewart Murdoch’s blistering shot.The Bhoys had plenty of possession but they couldn’t fashion a winner in the closing stages as the game ended in a frustrating stalemate.

    Tom Rogic came into the starting XI to make his 50th appearance for the club as the Hoops made three changes for the visit of the Highlanders. Erik Sviatchenko and Colin Kazim-Richards were also restored to the side, with Stefan Johansen, Dedryck Boyata and Gary Mackay-Steven dropping out.And it didn’t take long for Rogic to provide some creative spark, driving towards the edge of the box and teeing-up Griffiths who curled over.Cutting inside off the right flank, Patrick Roberts was also lively in the opening exchanges and he inadvertently forced Scott Fox into action for the first time when his cutback cannoned off Ian McShane’s foot towards goal, but the County keeper reacted quickly to save his team-mate’s blushes.

    Roberts’ trickery and inventiveness continued to look Celtic’s most likely outlet against the well-organised visitors who were defending in depth and in numbers, but clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by.On the opposite side of the pitch, Kieran Tierney’s drive and determination almost fashioned an opening in the 21st minute. Bursting forward with purpose, he found Griffiths inside the box but the striker’s cross was knocked behind by Paul Quinn.Just as frustration was beginning to grow among the home support, a moment of magic from Griffiths broke the deadlock. Kazim-Richards picked out the hit-man lurking near the edge of area and he worked the ball on to his weaker right-foot before lashing an unstoppable shot into top corner.

    Despite lining up with two frontmen in Liam Boyce and Alex Schalk, County had failed to threaten the Celtic goal until Boyce knocked McShane’s free-kick wide at the near post.And they remained largely preoccupied with defensive duties as the Hoops, boosted by making the breakthrough, sought to add to their tally. Rogic saw an ambitious long-range effort saved by Fox and the Australian was then unable to capitalise on an excellent opening, volleying over from close-range after wonderful wing-play from Roberts.Fox made another smart save from Bitton’s dipping shot in the 34th minute, before a set-piece gave the visitors another glimmer of goal. Although Celtic dealt with the initial ball into the box, when it was knocked back into the area, Quinn was in acres of space but Craig Gordon was alert to avert the danger.

    County were now enjoying their best spell of the game and McShane brought out another save from Celtic’s No.1 with a drive from distance, while Boyce should have probably found the net from Jonathan Franks’ cross instead of heading straight at Gordon.Back came the Bhoys and Kazim-Richards drifted in from the left and fired over from 20 yards as the hosts went in at the break holding a narrow advantage.Jim McIntyre’s side served another reminder of how slender that lead remained at the start of second half as Michael Gardyne blazed over at the far post after Boyce had flicked on Franks’ cross.Celtic responded with a curling shot from Roberts that flew over and a dipping free-kick from Griffiths that Fox could only push wide.

    After a Hoops attack had broken down on the edge of the box, County broke at speed and Schalk found himself with only Charlie Mulgrew between him and a clear shot at Gordon. The Dutchman eventually pulled the trigger but couldn’t keep his shot down.That stung a response from the home side as Griffiths and Roberts saw low efforts saved by Fox but it was the Staggies would grab the next goal. Celtic could only partially clear McShane’s corner and Murdoch lashed a venomous 30-yard shot beyond Gordon, whose complaints of an offside flag proved in vain.As the hosts sought to restore their advantage, a driving run from Roberts gave Bitton a sight of goal but the midfielder couldn’t keep his attempt down, and Kazim-Richards flashed a shot agonisingly wide following good play from Tierney.Substitutes Callum McGregor and Kris Commons brought out saves from Fox, and Griffiths had a shot blocked by Chris Robertson, as Celtic applied some late pressure but a winner was not forthcoming.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew (Ambrose 90), Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Roberts, Rogic (McGregor 64), Kazim-Richards (Commons 81); GriffithsNot Used: Bailly, Armstrong, Christie, Mackay-Steven

    ROSS COUNTY (3-5-2) Fox; Fraser, Quinn, Robertson; Franks (De Vita 78), Irvine, Murdoch, McShane, Gardyne; Boyce (Goodwillie 60), Schalk (Graham 90 +2)Not Used: Woods, Boyd, Dingwall, McLaughlin


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    Scottish Cup semi-final

    Hampden Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, April 17, 2016

    CELTIC…2

    (Sviatchenko 50, Rogic 106)

    RANGERS…2

    (Miller 16, McKay 96)

    [Penalties: Celtic 4 – 5 Rangers]

    THE lottery of penalty-kicks saw Celtic bow out of the Scottish Cup today to Rangers at the penultimate hurdle. After falling behind early in the first-half of normal time to Kenny Miller’s accurate finish, the Hoops battled back and drew level through Erik Sviatchenko after a blistering start to the second-half.

    The champions persevered as the game wore on and won a late chance to seal their place in the final with a header from Nir Bitton, but extra-time beckoned and the Bhoys found themselves behind again after Barrie McKay sent a powerful long-range strike past Craig Gordon in the first-half of the extra 30 minutes.

    The Hoops showed true fighting spirit, however, and got back into the game at 2-2 through substitute Tom Rogic’s fine finish in the box before Leigh Griffiths clipped the crossbar with a stunning free-kick.Normal time and extra-time was not enough to decide the game, however, and the match went to penalties where the Ibrox side triumphed 5-4 after Rogic sent his spot kick over.

    It was a heartbreaking end to a largely frustrating game for the Celts, who will now look to wrap up the SPFL Premiership for the fifth time in a row as quickly as possible.

    Celtic made just one change to the team from the side that beat Motherwell 2-1 in the league last weekend, with Gary Mackay-Steven returning to the starting XI in place of Colin Kazim-Richards. The former Dundee United winger had missed the victory over the Steelmen but was restored to the left side of attack in support of striker Leigh Griffiths.

    The match saw a Hampden debut for Patrick Roberts as well as a landmark 100th appearance for Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal, who was called into action early on to stop Kenny Miller opening the scoring as the Ibrox side started the match on the front foot.

    The striker gathered a ball over the top of the Hoops defence, took a touch and shot at goal but Gordon had narrowed the angle and did well to block the effort after some early pressure from Rangers.

    Ronny Deila’s side retaliated almost instantly with shots from Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths as the game spilled from end to end inside a fraught opening 10 minutes but the Bhoys soon found themselves 1-0 down, as Miller capitalised on a deflected pass into the Celtic box from a free-kick.Brown had done well to get a foot on the low delivery into the area but his efforts only directed the ball in the direction of Miller who shot from right to left past Gordon to put his side in front.

    A rasping shot from Kieran Tierney from distance marked Celtic’s reply but the full-back’s effort fizzed past Wes Foderingham’s post. The Hoops were then forced into an early change as Erik Sviatchenko replaced Dedryck Boyata on 25 minutes.Tierney then made an instrumental interception in the box to stop Miller pulling the trigger again before Sviatchenko was cautioned for his first challenge, catching Andy Halliday outside the box.

    The momentum then suddenly shifted in Celtic’s favour when Griffiths cracked the post with a shot, which feel kindly to Patrick Roberts with the goal gaping but the teenager could only find the side netting with his shot.The Bhoys pressed on, however, with Bitton forcing another save out of Foderingham, which the keeper spilled but gathered in time to stop Griffiths poking the ball home.

    As half-time approached the game settled down but the Hoops were still forced to do much of the defending as their deep defensive line invited the Ibrox side forward but the score remained 1-0 at the interval.After a lacklustre first-half Celtic emerged for the start of second period a changed team. The personnel were the same but the drive, intensity and most importantly accuracy with the ball was drastically improved, and it didn’t take long for the Bhoys draw themselves level through Sviatchenko.

    A long range free-kick from Griffiths sparked a string of corners and the Celts finally made the pressure count at the fourth attempt when the Danish defender out-jumped his marker to head beyond Foderingham and tie the game five minutes after the restart.

    Mark Warburton’s side responded with a prolonged period of possession but a blocked free-kick from James Tavernier was the best of their chances as the game passed the hour mark.

    The Ibrox outfit remained largely on top in terms of possession, with Celtic playing on the break as their city rivals committed men forward. Callum McGregor then replaced Mackay-Steven with 20 minutes left as the Bhoys sought to get back on the ball but they remained pinned back as the game crept towards its conclusion.The Celts got a crucial sight of goal in the closing stages when Griffiths burst forward and cut-back for McGregor but the midfielder’s effort was blocked and Charlie Mulgrew headed over from the resultant corner. Stefan Johansen’s match then came to an end as he was replaced by Rogic with extra time looming.

    Celtic had a late chance to grab the winner when Tavernier was booked for a foul on Roberts, allowing Bitton to get a head on goal from the following free-kick but his effort arched agonisingly over the bar and out of play before the full-time whistle heralded extra time.

    The Hoops started the first-half of the extra 30 minutes well but couldn’t force Foderingham into a save and they soon found themselves 2-1 down when McKay found the net from distance with a stunning strike that Gordon could do little to stop.

    Griffiths responded with a curling free-kick that went past the post before Sviatchenko forced another fine save out of Foderingham but the Celts finished the half behind.

    It took only seconds of the restart, however, for the champions to draw level again, this time through Rogic, who supplied a sublime finish to Kieran Tierney’s cut-back to make it 2-2. The Australian then almost put the Hoops in front when he was picked out in the box but Foderingham did well to block his clipped shot at goal.With one minute left on the clock Griffiths then curled a brilliant free-kick off the cross bar, which hit off Foderingham’s back before rolling out of play just past the post before the final whistle blew signalling a penalty shoot out to decide the game.

    After both teams missed kicks in the opening five, the shoot-out went to sudden death and Rogic’s wayward shot from the spot spelt the end of a disappointing afternoon for the Scottish champions.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata (Sviatchenko 26), Mulgrew, Tierney; Brown, Bitton; Roberts, Johansen (Rogic 88), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 71); Griffiths. Not used: Bailly, Kazim-Richards, Armstrong, Commons,

    RANGERS (4-3-3) Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan (Zelalem 88), Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Ball Holt; Shiels (Law 66), Miller (Clark 91), McKay.

    Not used: Bell, Burt


    motherwell_vs_celtic

    SAT, 09 APR 2016 SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP

    Motherwell 1-2 Celtic

    McDonald (60′ minutes)

    Griffiths (44′ minutes, 75′ minutes)

    Two Leigh Griffiths goals in a madcap win over Motherwell moved defending champions Celtic eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.Celtic had eight attempts on goal in the first half – including a missed Griffiths penalty – before the striker made amends just before the break.

    Motherwell had their goalkeeper Connor Ripley to thank for keeping them in it before Scott McDonald equalised.But Griffiths struck again, the ball squirming through Ripley’s legs.It was a bitter end to what had been a terrific performance by the Englishman.Celtic lorded it early on. The irony was that of all their pot-shots at goal the one shot that did not trouble Ripley was that missed Griffiths penalty.Patrick Roberts, excellent in the first half, had the first of those chances, Nir Bitton the second and Griffiths the third. All of them were beaten away by Ripley.

    Midway through the half, Roberts’ quick feet bamboozled Morgaro Gomis and the penalty was won – and then missed. Griffiths pulled his effort wide of Ripley’s left-hand post. Bizarrely for a man who has scored buckets of goals this season, it was Griffiths’ fourth miss from the penalty spot since August.Leigh Griffiths misses a penalty for Celtic against Motherwell Griffiths fired his spot-kick attempt past the postRipley continued dealing with the Celtic barrage. Lovely build-up play put Colin Kazim-Richards through on goal but Ripley denied him, this time with his feet.

    Motherwell, in that opening half, had none of the edge that had helped them win five on the spin. Their use of the ball was awful, their composure suffering some kind of peculiar bypass.They continued to invite Celtic on to them. Kieran Tierney and Roberts, again, forced saves from Ripley. True, many of these blocks from the keeper were from attempts delivered straight down his throat, but he had still made seven saves by the time the game was 40 minutes old.

    A minute before the break, he was beaten at last, Tierney delivering from the left and Griffiths sweeping it home from close range. One goal was the least that their pressure deserved, but even that slender margin was to be wiped out soon enough.Motherwell turned up at the party in the second half. At last, they had a bit of attitude and accuracy going forward.

    McDonald had the ball in the Celtic net 10 minutes into the half but it was disallowed, controversially, for offside. Celtic now became the nervy team. Dedryck Boyata was an unsettling presence at the heart of their defence as Motherwell’s confidence grew.The equaliser came on the hour when Chris Cadden got the better of Tierney on the left and pulled it back for Celtic’s old boy, McDonald, to thump home, aided by a slight deflection off Boyata’s knee. It was an emphatic finish from the Australian – one that utterly stunned the visitors.

    Scott McDonald celebrates after scoring for Motherwell against Celtic McDonald scored against his former club Celtic dug it out, though. With 15 minutes left – and just after an angry exchange that could have seen Kazim-Richards sent off – Griffiths struck again, his snapshot going through Ripley’s legs.A frustrated figure for much of the afternoon, the irrepressible Celtic striker found a way of getting the job done – again


    3455-celtic-v-hearts-team-news

    Scottish Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, April 2, 2016

    CELTIC…3

    (Mackay-Steven 15, Roberts 35, 49)

    HEARTS…1

    (Walker 5)

    PATRICK Roberts scored his first two goals in senior football as Celtic fought back to beat Hearts and move seven points ahead in the title race.Robbie Neilson’s side had opened the scoring inside the first five minutes through Jamie Walker but the Hoops, helped by the precocious talents of Roberts, turned the match around.The 19-year-old was involved in Gary Mackay-Steven equaliser when his cross was only cleared as far as the winger, who lashed beyond Neil Alexander.

    He then showed wonderful coolness and technical ability after being played in by Tom Rogic and chipping the ball over the advancing Alexander.Four minutes into the second half, the English youngster bagged his brace. After being found by Stefan Johansen on the right, he confidently advanced into the box before curling the ball inside the far post.After that, there was no way back for a dogged Hearts team, as Ronny Deila’s side clinched a vital victory in the fight for the championship.

    After coming off the bench to score a wonderful winner in the last match away to Kilmarnock, Rogic was promoted to the starting XI as the manager made five changes to the team that lined up at Rugby Park, with Dedryck Boyata, Stefan Johansen, Roberts and Mackay-Steven also coming into the side. Charlie Mulgrew, Nir Bitton, Callum McGregor, Kris Commons and Colin Kazim-Richards were the players to drop out.

    There was little fluency in the opening exchanges as both teams fought for supremacy, but the visitors made an early breakthrough with the first effort of the match. Juanma held off the attentions of Erik Sviatchenko and Walker pounced on the loose ball, rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner.Celtic responded with a fizzing free-kick from Griffiths that forced Alexander into a one-handed save. From the resultant corner, the Hoops levelled the match. The Tynecastle side could only partially clear the set-piece and eventually the ball dropped for Mackay-Steven on the edge of the area. He took aim and clinically found the far corner to continue his fine scoring run.

    As a compelling contest continued to swing from end-to-end, Griffiths was played in by Rogic’s precise pass but was denied by the legs of Alexander. Roberts also missed his kick when in the clear from Gordon’s goal-kick, though a questionable offside flag saved his blushes.It was then Hearts’ turn to make a sortie forward as Arnaud Djoum dragged a shot wide and Alim Ozturk curled a free-kick off the top of the bar.In the 27th minute, the lively Roberts looked to have a good penalty claim turned away as Igor Rossi impeded him as he weaved his way into the box, before the away side threatened through Djoum and Juanma.

    A moment of pure class saw the hosts move in front. Rogic did brilliantly to fashion some space down the right despite the close attentions of several opponents and then pick out the run of Roberts. Bearing down on Alexander, the teenager showed remarkable composure to send an exquisite chip over the goalkeeper and claim his first goal in senior football.Commitment had been in abundant from both teams but tempers threatened to boil over as half-time approached after Juwon Oshaniwa recklessly challenged Rogic in the air. The Nigerian was cautioned for the offence, while Griffiths and Prince Buaben were booked in the aftermath. Rogic, unfortunately, had to leave the fray with concussion, with Bitton taking his place.

    Griffiths tested Alexander with two free-kicks before the break and Roberts was crowded out in the box before he could pull the trigger as the home side finished the half on top. They continued where they left off after the restart, with Boyata and Griffiths almost capitalising from Roberts’ corner.In the 49th minute, Roberts broke the capital club’s resistance again. Johansen did well to steer a pass wide to the winger who strode into the box and beat Alexander with a precise finish.

    Griffiths and Roberts both tried their luck from distance and substitute McGregor had a powerful shot saved by Alexander as Celtic looked to stamp home their supremacy, while Robbie Neilson’s side struggled to find a way back into the match.And aside from substitute Abiola Dauda’s late header, which was brilliantly saved by Gordon, the Celtic rearguard comfortably dealt with the visitors late attacking flurries.In the dying seconds, Oshaniwa saw red after picking up second booking for a foul on Bitton as Hearts ended the match in frustration and Celtic celebrated an important three points.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Roberts, Rogic (Bitton 45), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 68); Griffiths (Kazim-Richards 78)

    Not Used: Fasan, Ambrose, Commons, Forrest

    HEARTS (4-1-3-2) Alexander; Souttar, Ozturk, Rossi (Smith 65), Oshaniwa; Kitchen; Nicholson, Bauben (Dauda 81) Djoum; Walker (Reilly 65), Juanma

    Not Used: Hamilton, Augustyn, Pallardo, McGhee


    kilmarnockvceltic

    SPFL Premiership

    Rugby Park, Kilmarnock

    Saturday, March 19, 2016

    KILMARNOCK…0

    CELTIC…1

    (Rogic 90)

    TOM Rogic’s sensational last-gasp wonder strike gave Celtic a vital one-nil win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park today to send the champions four points clear at the top of the league.

    With just seconds left on the clock and a 0-0 draw looking the most likely outcome, the second-half sub took aim from 25 yards and lashed an unstoppable angled drive into the net past the helpless Jamie MacDonald to spark scenes of wild celebration in the stand behind the goal, packed with Hoops fans, and a post-match Ronny roar from the manager of the champions.

    It was an incredible finish to secure a massive three points in the title race and gave the vocal and strong travelling support a moment to cherish as they headed back up the M77.

    Celtic made just one change for the game following last week’s 2-1 win over Partick Thistle, with Colin Kazim-Richards brought in to replace Gary Mackay-Steven on the left of attack as Ronny Deila stuck with the 4-3-3 formation utilised by the champions in recent weeks.

    The powerful striker used his strength to work his way into the match early on as the game spilled from end to end with both keepers called into action inside the opening five minutes to make good stops.

    Celtic were on top in terms of possession and had the Killie defence on the back foot with Kris Commons and Leigh Griffiths looking lively but the home team were also dangerous on the break as the game fell into a familiar pattern.

    Commons’ curling shot from outside the box marked the best chance for the Bhoys in the opening half hour but Jamie McDonald had his angles right to make the save. Kallum Higginbotham was meanwhile Kilie’s most potent threat but the Bhoys defence did well to keep him at bay for the most part after his early involvement had won a string of corners for the home team.

    The game fell into a lull midway through the half with Celtic still in charge of traffic but struggling to find gaps to exploit in the Kilmarnock defence. The Hoops had Lee Clark’s side packed in to their own half but were almost caught out by the home side when they were found guilty of overplaying in Killie territory.

    With the Bhoys in possession looking for an opening, Scott Brown slipped, allowing Higginbotham to dart free with the ball and play in Kris Boyd but Craig Gordon came confidently off his line to slide in and clear the danger.

    The Celts took the warning on board and pushed on with more intent but their momentum was disrupted when they were forced into a change before half-time as Kieran Tierney exited the action to be replaced by Dedryck Boyata after the Hoops youngster failed to recover from a knock he suffered in a strong challenge on 25 minutes.

    Ronny Deila’s side persevered until the break but could find the opener and the teams went in level.

    A second Celtic change followed the interval as Patrick Roberts replaced Kris Commons and the Celts went for a flat 4-4-2.

    The change in shape gave the Bhoys a more direct approach and they peppered MacDonald’s goal with shots inside the opening five minutes of the restart but the home team stood strong.

    Celtic had all of the possession but were forced to play in front of Killie as they closed ranks to stop the Celts penetrating their backline. Mikael Lustig and Charlie Mulgrew continued to provide crosses from the flanks, with Roberts also dangerous on the periphery of the box but the Hoops were lacking a killer touch.

    Not even Sviatchenko’s bulleted header on 65 minutes could find a way into the net when Julien Faubert blocked the shot on the post but the Hoops remained resolute to find the opening goal.

    Killie were growing in confidence, however, content to sit back with the fresh legs of second-half substitute Tope Obadeyi remaining a potent threat to the Celts as the clock ticked down.

    And just as the game looked set to be end in a stalemate the Bhoys made then final throw of the dice by replacing Nir Bitton with Tom Rogic with 10 minutes left, and it was the Australian attacker who had the vital say in the game, smashing a sensational, thunderous shot past MacDonald with just seconds left to send the travelling support into euphoria.

    The result gave the champions the four point cushion they so desperately wanted over second-placed Aberdeen ahead of kick-off and sent the Celtic support back up the M77 on top of the world.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney (Boyata 41); McGregor, Brown, Bitton (Rogic 78); Commons (Roberts 46), Griffiths, Kazim-Richards

    Not used: Fasan, Johansen, Armstrong, Forrest,

    KILMARNOCK (4-2-3-1) MacDonald; O’Hara, Ashcroft, Balatoni, Hodson; Faubert, Dicker; McKenzie (Splaine 54), Higginbotham, Kiltie; Boyd (Obadeyi 70)

    Not used: Brennan, Westlake, Slater, McHattie, Frizzell


    1acb7ac5ca8910057e29875d4657f785

    SPFL Premiership

    Firhill Stadium, Partick

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

    PARTICK THISTLE…1

    (Welsh 85)

    CELTIC…2

    (Griffiths 45, McGregor 53)

    GOALS either side of half-time ensured Celtic emerged victorious from a closely-fought Glasgow derby at Firhill to go four points clear at the top of the league.It took the full 45 minutes of the first-half for the champions to find the opener against an organised Jags side but patience finally paid off when Leigh Griffiths tucked a left-footed shot beyond Tomas Cerny on the stretch to break the deadlock.Callum McGregor’s composed finish less than 10 minutes after the restart gave the Celts a commanding lead and the goal proved pivotal as Thistle were awarded a late penalty which Sean Welsh scored to bring the game to a tense climax.

    The goal spurred the home team on in the dying minutes but the champions held firm to claim a crucial three points and stretch their lead at the top of the Premiership ahead of Aberdeen’s game against Kilmarnock later in the afternoon.Ronny Deila made just one change to his team following last Sunday’s Scottish Cup win over Morton, with Nir Bitton replacing Stefan Johansen after the Norwegian midfielder was forced off at half-time in last week’s tie after taking a knock on his ankle.The switch allowed Bitton to make his 100th appearance for the Bhoys, lining up in midfield alongside Scott Brown and Callum McGregor as the champions stuck with a 4-3-3 formation.

    After a positive start from the home team, Celtic eventually settled and bossed the opening stages of the game. Cerny had to get down well to save from Leigh Griffiths’ stooping header before Gary Mackay-Steven poked a shot narrowly wide as the Celts sought an early opener.The Hoops enjoyed most of the possession but struggled to create openings down the flanks as Thistle pushed the Bhoys infield and flooded the centre of the park with bodies. The Jags first real chance came from Liam Lindsay nearly 20 minutes in but Craig Gordon was equal to the defender’s angled drive.

    Celtic were beginning to find their stride as Thistle briefly lost some composure, with David Amoo and Gary Miller both booked in quick succession for fouls on the impressive Kieran Tierney and Mackay-Steven respectively.Kris Doolan’s twisting run and shot then brought out another good stop from Gordon after Charlie Mulgrew was beaten in the box as the game spilled from end to end.Chances continued to fall Celtic’s way as half-time drew closer and it looked as though the teams would go in level but the deadlock was finally broken on the 45 minute mark by the Hoops leading scorer Griffiths, sending the away fans wild.

    Mackay-Steven squeezed in a cross from the left which Griffiths did well to shift his feet and control before the forward lashed a left-footed shot into the corner of the net to put the champions deservedly in front at the break.The Celts started the second-half the way they finished the first, pressing high and doing well to spread the play through Thistle’s crowded midfield, but they needed an early goal to properly establish command of the game and that came just inside 10 minutes of the restart through McGregor.

    Mackay-Steven’s interception sparked the move forward and the winger did well to hold on to the ball and drag the home defence left, opening up space for McGregor to run into space on the right. Mackay-Steven then slipped a pinpoint pass to his team-mate, who showed great composure to feint left before shifting the ball onto his right and slotting powerfully past Cerny.Celtic’s lead was now commanding and they could afford a moment’s respite to plan their next move. Thistle rolled the dice by replacing striker Doolan with Mathias Pogba as they sought a way back into the game, but it was the Hoops who stayed on top and continued to create.

    Colin Kazim-Richard’s introduction with 20 minutes remaining in place of Commons gave the Celts a different dynamic for the closing stages as they searched for a third goal, and that almost came through Griffiths when he gathered McGregor’s through ball but Cerny saved well at his feet before Kazim-Richards fired wide with the goal at his mercy.The powerful striker almost atoned for his miss moments later with a delightful turn and shot in the box but pulled his effort across the face of goal.

    The game then took a dramatic twist with five minutes left when Erik Sviatchenko was booked for a pull in the box on Steven Lawless, giving the home team a penalty, which Welsh dispatched to the right of the goal, sending Gordon the wrong way.The Jags were buoyed by the strike and pushed for a point but Celtic held firm and kept the ball in the home team’s half to count down the clock and secure a massive three points in the title race.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Bitton; Commons (Kazim-Richards 67), Griffiths (Armstrong 88), Mackay-Steven (Ambrose 90)Not used: Fasan, Rogic, Roberts, Forrest

    PARTICK THISTLE: (4-1-1) Cerny; Miller, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth; Amoo, Osman, Welsh, Lawless (Edwards 86); Fraser (Elliott 71), Doolan (Pogba 60)

    Not used: Scully, German, Frans, Wilson


    CctfpEdWIAIc4O7


    Scottish Cup Quarter-Final

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Sunday, March 6, 2016

    CELTIC…3

    (Griffiths 14, Mackay-Steven 25, McGregor 35)

    GREENOCK MORTON…0

    A DOMINANT first-half display saw Celtic brush aside Greenock Morton 3-0 in Paradise and book their spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring with his 34th goal of the season, before the lively Gary-Mackay-Steven doubled the advantage from Kieran Tierney’s cross.And ten minutes later, Callum McGregor sealed the champions’ passage to the last four of the competition with an exquisite finish from the edge of the box.Celtic struck the woodwork twice in the second period, with Patrick Roberts impressing again after coming off the bench.

    But, despite not finding further reward, Ronny Deila would be satisfied at progressing in the competition and returning to winning ways after successive draws with Hamilton and Dundee.The manager had made four changes to his team following Wednesday’s goal-less draw with Dundee. Opting for a 4-3-3 formation, the manager moved birthday Bhoy Charlie Mulgrew into central defence at the expense of Dedryck Boyata, while Stefan Johansen and McGregor also returned to partner Scott Brown in midfield.

    Kris Commons, who came on as a late substitute in the mid-week stalemate, started on the right of the front three, with Griffiths deployed in his usual central role and Mackay-Steven completing the changes for the Celts on the left. Roberts, Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong were the other players to drop out but were named on the bench.After a scrappy start to proceedings, the Hoops fashioned the first opportunity in the sixth minute. Mackay-Steven robbed Lee Kilday off possession and drove into the box but he elected to try and pick out Griffiths in the middle instead of pulling the trigger and Kilday managed to get back and avert the danger.

    The winger looked the most likely outlet for the Hoops in the opening exchanges and after he had evaded the clutches of Kilday again his low cutback was just behind the onrushing Griffiths.After Morton had enjoyed a short spell of pressure, with Craig Gordon saving comfortably from an angled effort from Ross Forbes, Celtic resumed the offensive and made the breakthrough.Mackay-Steven was the provider. His delivery from the left was missed by defender Thomas O’Ware and Griffiths buried a right-footed shot under Derek Gaston at the back post.

    That sparked further waves of attacks from the home side, with McGregor, Scott Brown and Griffiths having shots blocked by an increasingly stretched away defence.Spiritedly, Morton responded with a powerful long-range drive from Joe McKee which Gordon saved comfortably and it wasn’t long before the champions threatened again as O’Ware made a last-ditch block to thwart Commons in the box. From McGregor’s resultant corner, Mikael Lustig glanced over.Gaston then had to make an excellent save from Griffiths after the striker had fastened onto Johansen’s precise pass but the goalkeeper could do nothing moments later as Mackay-Steven doubled the advantage.

    Tierney hit the byline and hit low cross picked out the former Dundee United man, who had the simple task of firing home from close range.At the other end, Gordon had to react sharply to save from Stefan McCluskey’s shot that came through a ruck of bodies.

    However, with Celtic’s confidence growing, Jim Duffy’s side were struggling to stem the tide as Ronny Deila’s side zipped the ball around with pace and purpose.Tierney had a shot saved, Mulgrew struck the wall with a free-kick and Commons headed wide from Tierney’s cross as the chances continued to mount.

    In the 35th minute, Morton’s resistance was broken again. McGregor was afforded space to burst towards the box and he finished with aplomb from 20 yards, curing a sumptuous shot beyond Gaston.The one-way traffic continued as half-time approached – Griffiths had a shot blocked by O’Hare and Mackay-Steven shot wide after being found by Tierney.Former Celt Michael Miller saw yellow for pulling back McGregor on the edge of the box as Morton became more desperate in their attempts to halt the onslaught.Johansen found the wall from the free-kick, and Miller was extremely fortunate not to receive further punishment 60 seconds from referee Willie Collum, having caught Johansen with a straight leg which left the Norwegian prone on the ground and in need of treatment after the half-time whistle.

    Worryingly, the Celtic midfielder was unable to reappear for the restart, with Colin Kazim-Richards taking his place.Despite the change, the Hoops remained in control though their tempo had dipped somewhat from the first period, and aside from a header from Lustig that was saved by Gaston there was a dearth of meaningful opportunities.The introduction of Patrick Roberts on the hour mark injected fresh impetus into the Celtic attack. A wonderful solo run from the 19-year-old saw him leave several opponents for dead before striking the post.

    And Roberts was also involved in the move that saw Commons find Kazim-Richards with a defence-splitting pass, the striker firing into the side-netting.Morton had carried more threat in the second half and Gordon had to make a tremendous point-blank save from Denny Johnstone following a corner, Celtic eventually clearing the ball from the ensuing melee.Mackay-Steven thundered a shot off the underside of the bar, after more good work from Roberts, and Kazim-Richards came close on two occasions as the Bhoys comfortably saw out the closing stages to seal their spot in the semi-finals.

    CELTIC (4-3-3) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Mulgrew, Tierney; McGregor, Brown, Johansen (Kazim-Richards 46); Commons (Armstrong 73), Griffiths (Roberts 60), Mackay-Steven

    Not Used: Bailly, Rogic, Ambrose, Forrest, Armstrong

    GREENOCK MORTON (3-5-2) Gaston; Kilday, O’Ware, Lamie; McCluskey (Gasparatto 76) McKee, Miller (Barr 51) Forbes, Russell; Johnstone (Quitongo 90),McManus

    Not Used: McGowan, MacDonald, Scullion, Tennan