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McGovern has night of pain at Parkhead

Celtic 8-1 Hamilton

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 20/01/2016

Just the start: Mikael Lustig celebrates with with team-mate Gary Mackay-Steven after scoring the first of Celtic’s eight goals against Hamilton
Just the start: Mikael Lustig celebrates with with team-mate Gary Mackay-Steven after scoring the first of Celtic’s eight goals against Hamilton

Michael McGovern suffered a night to forget after having to pick the ball out of the net eight times as Celtic went goal crazy against Hamilton Academical.

The Northern Ireland goalkeeper, who was with Celtic as a youth, was unable to stem the tide after being beaten three times in a frantic opening 10 minutes at Parkhead.

Things didn't get much better, with five more Celtic goals going in, leaving the visitors shell-shocked.

Leigh Griffiths helped himself to a hat-trick as Celtic moved six points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

It was a spectacular first-half performance from the home side who were three goals ahead after just 10 minutes thanks to stand-in skipper Mikael Lustig, Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic before in-form Griffiths notched a double before the interval.

Half-time substitute James Forrest scored eight minutes into the second-half before Griffiths grabbed his third and Celtic's seventh with Callum McGregor making it eight right at the end.

Before that Hamilton's second-half substitute Eamonn Brophy got a goal on the break as a consolation for the abject New Douglas Park side who have now gone eight games without a win and are above 11th-placed Kilmarnock on goal difference.

It was a night of trauma for the visitors.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila praised his team's appetite and aptitude and was confident it was the biggest margin of victory of his managerial career.

"I think so, I can't remember better," he said.

"It was a fantastic night, a very good performance, we scored a lot of goals and could have scored more so I am very pleased with the boys.

"We deserved eight and we could have had much more, we had so many more chances. You always want games like this and I am very pleased."

Celtic went ahead when a Stuart Armstrong free-kick to the back post was headed in by Lustig. When Bitton had time and space to arrow a wonderful drive from 30 yards high into the net five minutes later the points were already safe with only the margin of victory in doubt.

Accies fell three behindon 10 minutes when a poor ly-defended cross from Lustig fell to Rogic, whose returned shot from the edge of the box appeared to deflect off Hamilton defender Michael Devlin before ending up behind McGovern.

There was soon more woe for Accies when Ali Crawford's slack pass was picked up by Gary Mackay-Steven who drove 40 yards to the Hamilton box before setting up Griffiths whose finish was typically clinical, his second from close range in the 33rd minute from a Rogic cross a lot easier.

The champions were relentless.

Scott Allan and James Forrest replaced Rogic and Jozo Simunovic for the start of the second half and they combined in the 53rd minute for the latter to drive in number six before Griffiths made it 7-0 when he capitalised on a mistake by Devlin to lob McGovern.

In the 72nd minute Accies substitute Brophy, on for Alexandre D'Acol just after the hour mark, broke through the Celtic defence to slip the ball between the legs of Celtic keeper Craig Gordon.

The Parkhead men contrived to miss several more chances before McGregor drilled in number eight from the edge of the box and by that time the Hoops' signal of intent to Aberdeen had already arrived in the Granite City.

CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic (Forrest 45), Izaguirre, Bitton, McGregor, Mackay-Steven, Rogic (Allan 45), Armstrong, Griffiths (Cole 65).

Goals: Lustig 4, Bitton 9, Rogic 10, Griffiths 22, 34, 54, Forrest 53, McGregor 89

Subs not used: Ciftci, Commons, Bailly, Tierney.

HAMILTON: McGovern, Gordon, Devlin, De Lima Tagliapietra, Kurakins, MacKinnon, Docherty, Gillespie (Lyon 84), Kurtaj (Imrie 45), Crawford, D'Acol (Brophy 61).

Goals: Brophy 73

Subs not used: Morris, Tena, Martin, Nade.

Man of the match: Griffiths

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Craig Thomson

Belfast Telegraph

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