Sunday, September 27, 2020
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(McGregor 7, Ajeti 35, Elyounoussi 78)
CELTIC followed Thursday’s UEFA Europa League victory in Latvia with a confident 3-0 win against Jack Ross’ in-form Hibernian at Paradise this afternoon (Sunday). First half goals from Callum McGregor and Albian Ajeti, and a fine finish from Mohamed Elyounoussi with 12 minutes remaining ensured Neil Lennon’s men closed the gap at the top of the Premiership to a point with a game in hand.
It was a lively start to proceedings, as both teams pressed high up the pitch, passing well and stretching the game in the opening stages. After just three minutes, the visitors’ high offence allowed Jeremie Frimpong – in for the injured James Forrest on the right flank – to burst forward on the counter, only to be hauled down by Paul Hanlon on the edge of the box.
Christie sent the ensuing set-piece into the wall, before Hibs forged their own fast break from the back towards Martin Boyle on the left wing. The Easter Road side’s No.10 in turn sent a dangerous ball towards the six-yard line, which Hoops stopper Vasilis Barkas smothered on his second attempt.
Again pressing Jack Ross’ side high up the pitch, the champions’ breakthrough came after seven minutes via Callum McGregor. After collecting Ryan Christie’s square-ball from the inside-right channel, the 27-year-old strode towards goal before zipping a low left foot effort across keeper Ofir Marciano into the right corner of the net.
To their credit, Hibs continued to press with intent which called for concentration from Celtic’s back three of Shane Duffy, Nir Bitton and Kris Ajer. On the quarter-hour mark, the visitors carved their best chance of the half when Kevin Nisbit did well to cut-back from the by-line for Christain Doidge, whose snapshot attempt skimmed the crossbar on its way out of play.
At the other end, Frimpong was again quick to turn defence into attack on the right flank, and battled well with the physicality of Hibs left-back Josh Doig. Still, chances remained at a premium as Celtic looked to extend and Hibs sought to pull level.
With half-an-hour played, Frimpong remained the Hoops’ biggest threat – again showing the explosive pace and determination which earned him Man of the Match in midweek.
On 35 minutes, some neat combination play between the wing-back and Christie saw the ball break to Elyounoussi 12 yards from goal. The Norwegian internationalist did well to get a shot away under pressure, which Marciano parried out into the path of Ajeti. The striker duly fired home first-time to double his side’s lead, but appeared to injure his hamstring in the process, substituted for Odsonne Edouard in the aftermath of his goal celebration.
Celtic’s next half-chance of the opening period saw Christie float the ball towards the left by-line, but neither Greg Taylor of Elyounoussi could connect. Hibs again worked their counter-attack well, before Boyle sent a powerful right-foot over the bar.
The Hoops almost made it three before the break when Taylor showed great pace on the left before whipping a ball between the opposition goalkeeper and last defender. The cross missed Elyounoussi at the front post, before Frimpong sent his effort high six yards from goal at the back.
On for Ryan Christie at half-time, David Turnbull looked sharp from kick-off, helping Nir Bitton create Celtic’s first clear-cut chance of the second period. After holding up the ball on the inside-right flank, the 21-year-old slipped the ball to the overlapping Israeli, who in turn forced a fine stop at full-stretch from Marciano.
In the 53rd minute, Turnbull sent a wicked out-swinging free-kick into the box, cleared only as far as Scott Brown, who forced another fine save from the Hibs Stopper. Moments after that, Turnbull again made his presence felt when his 20-yard effort was denied by the fingertips of the keeper. Shortly after that again, Edouard came close when he headed a Turnbull corner towards goal which was cleared off the line by Paul McGinn.
Despite Celtic’s pressure, Hibs held firm but offered little in the final third. Joe Newell came closest in the 65th minute, but scooped his effort inside the box well over the mark. With the match opening up, Frimpong continued to utilise space on the right, and on 70 minutes, laid the ball off to McGregor. His rasping attempt from 20 yards was however denied by a strong right arm from Marciano.
Into the final quarter-hour and the visitors stepped out in search of a goal. After a flurry of scrambles in the Hoops penalty area, Nisbit came closest on 77 minutes but was charged down by Duffy.
With Hibs playing so far forward, however, Celtic worked another neat counter-attack to make it three. In a relentless move, Ajer played long to Edouard, the Frenchman played the ball inside to Turnbull, the 21-year-old threaded the ball through to Elyounoussi, and the Norwegian slipped the ball home to the keeper’s left.
It was no less than the home side deserved, given their dominance from back to front. Edouard might have added another in the closing stages, played in by late substitute Ismaila Soro, but Marciano was equal to his low effort.
Another comprehensive domestic victory for Neil Lennon’s men, which bodes well for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play-off against FK Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovinian.
CELTIC: Barkas; Bitton, Duffy, Ajer; Brown (Ntcham 82), Frimpong, Christie (Turnbull 46), McGregor (Soro 86), Taylor; Elyounoussi (Klimala 82), Ajeti (Edouard 37)
Subs not used: Bain, Griffiths, Rogic, Elhamed
HIBS: Marciano; McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Doig (Stevenson 46); Boyle, Wright (Murphy 53), Gogic, Newell, Doidge (Mallan 83), Nisbit
Subs not used: Barnes, Gray, McGregor, Hallberg, Shanley, Gullan
Sunday, August 2, 2020
(Edouard 19, 49, 52, Frimpong 30, Klimala 90)
HAMILTON ACCIES… 1
FOR the 10th season in a row, Celtic celebrated Flag Day with a victory, Neil Lennon’s side beating Hamilton Accies 5-1 at Celtic Park. Odsonne Edouard was the goal hero for the Hoops, netting an impressive opening day hat-trick, including the first goal of the new Premiership campaign, while Jeremie Frimpong and Patryk Klimala were also among the goals.
Before kick-off, the league trophy took pride of place in the centre-circle, brought on to the pitch by Celtic’s nine-in-a-row captain, Scott Brown, the league flag was raised high over Paradise atop the North Stand, while fireworks and pyrotechnics greeted the moment. It was followed by players and officials of both sides taking knee in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.
Neil Lennon’s side began the game with real attacking intent and Chris Jullien came close after just 90 seconds, but his header from a Ryan Christie corner was well saved by Ryan Fulton in the Hamilton goal. Two minutes later, Jullien’s central defensive partner, Kris Ajer, headed just over from another corner.
Hamilton showed early signs that they could cause problems on the counter-attack, with Andrew Winter curling a shot from the edge of the box that Scott Bain pushed round the post. And the visitors came close again three minutes later, with David Moyo heading over from a Hakeem Odoffin cross.
Both James Forrest and Chris Jullien came close with chances, the former denied by a save, the latter by the post, while No.8 was lucky to escape with just a yellow card for a crude challenge on Jeremie Frimpong.
With 19 minutes on the clock, Celtic scored their first goal of the new campaign, and it came from last season’s top goalscorer, Odsonne Edouard. It was a fast-flowing move from the Hoops that started with Bain and saw Christie and Frimpong combine well in the middle of the park, with the right-back using his pace to surge forward.
When the ball was worked out wide on the left to Greg Taylor, he delivered a precise cross into the six-yard box for Edouard to knock into the Hamilton net.
Hamilton should have equalised just two minutes later, but Shaun Want headed over from a corner when it looked easier to score.
And on the half-hour mark, Celtic extended their lead. Again, Taylor was the provider, and his cross from the left was knocked in at the far post by Frimpong. That two-goal lead only lasted three minutes, however, as Scott Martin’s shot from the edge of the box took a deflection, allowing the ball to squirm past Bain and into the net.
Celtic continued to press forward and Ryan Christie came close on a couple of occasions without managing to hit the target.
However, just four minutes into the second-half, Celtic did score their third of the afternoon. Christie set Forrest off down the right, with the winger’s pace taking him past Shaun Want, and his first-time cross into the box was slotted home by Edouard for his second of the game.
And three minutes later, the Frenchman had his hat-trick. The Hamilton keeper saved Christie’s initial effort, but the ball fell to Edouard who side-footed the ball into the roof of the net to claim the match ball and put the game out of Hamilton’s reach.
Neil Lennon’s side continued their search for more goals, and Forrest was denied when Fulton pushed his right-foot shot from the edge of the box out for a corner.
Forrest and Frimpong were combining well down the right flank, and on 63 minutes, the young Dutch defender came close to his second of the game as he and Forrest carved open the Hamilton defence with a one-two. Frimpong’s effort was saved, while Callum McGregor’s follow-up header was cleared off the line.
Mohamed Elyounoussi was next to test the visitors’ defence, with his shot from inside box saved by Fulton, while Jullien was also denied when the Hamilton keeper raced off his line to block the Frenchman’s effort from six yards out.
Patryk Klimala, on as a substitute for Edouard, had a header on target in the 87th minute, but it was comfortably held by Fulton. However, the Polish striker soon netted his first competitive goal of his Celtic career, sliding the ball under Fulton from inside the box in the 90th minutes to round off an impressive afternoon for Neil Lennon’s side.
CELTIC: Bain, Jullien, Taylor, Brown, Christie (Karamoko 85), Edouard (Klimala 85), Elyounoussi (Ntcham 70), Frimpong (Elhamed 85), Ajer, McGregor, Forrest.
Subs Barkas, Bitton, Soro, Rogic, Bolingoli
Fulton, Odoffin (McKenna 70), McMann, Hamilton, Martin, L.Smith, Want, Hughes (Ogkmpoe 41), Winter, Moyo, Callachan (Trafford, 70).
Subs: Gourlay, Fjortoft, Mimnaugh, Munro, C.Smith, Owolabi
Man of the match: Odsonne Edouard