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Four-star Celtic are now sitting pretty at the Scottish Premiership summit

By Ronnie Esplin

Celtic moved to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 4-0 trouncing of Motherwell at Parkhead, with right-back Mikael Lustig the returning hero.

Defender Virgil van Dijk opened the scoring in the 26th minute of a one-sided first half with a close-range header, before striker Leigh Griffiths doubled the Hoops' lead just before the interval.

Stefan Johansen and Emilio Izaguirre both hit the frame of the goal after the break before substitute Lustig helped himself to a quickfire double, a shot in the 76th minute followed by a header five minutes later.

The Swede, who came on for Adam Matthews at half-time to make his first appearance since November after recovering from injury, was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar as Ronny Deila's side ran out easy winners.

The champions are one point ahead of the Dons with a game in hand while Well, after three top-three finishes in succession, looked bedraggled at the whistle and look like they could spend the rest of the campaign fighting a relegation battle.

Griffiths said: "I was happy to score. That's what I want to do. The attacking options we have are great. I have the jersey now and I want to keep it. I love playing here. I love everything about the place.

"I am at one of the biggest clubs in the world and you need to be mature with that. And as long as I am scoring goals then I'm happy."

Deila said: "I am very pleased with the win and I am happy for my defenders and the clean sheet.

"We have been patient with Lustig. I am happy for him and hopefully we can get more consistency with him. We want to be number one and we know if we win our games we will be champions.

"We are favourites in Scotland no matter who we play, where we play. The team is growing together and the training is good quality. If that keeps up it will be hard to beat us. When you see what we can achieve it is very exciting and we are looking forward to every game."

An 11th win in 13 league outings lifts Celtic one point ahead of Aberdeen, while Motherwell slipped to a fourth straight loss and are now just two points above the relegation play-off place.

CELTIC: Gordon, Matthews (Lustig 45), van Dijk, Denayer, Izaguirre, Bitton, Brown, Stokes (Forrest 64), Commons, Johansen (Scepovic 70), Griffiths.

Goals: Van Dijk 26, Griffiths 42, Lustig 76, 81.

Subs not used: Ambrose Emuobo, Guidetti, Zaluska, McGregor.

MOTHERWELL: Twardzik, Ramsden, O'Brien (Moore 71), McManus, Watt, Reid, Carswell, Law, Pearson, Ainsworth (Thomas 45), Sutton (Erwin 67).

Subs not used: Nielsen, Kerr, Cadden, MacLean.

Man of the match: Lustig

Referee: Bobby Madden

Belfast Telegraph


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