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Celtic stroll closer to title

22 Mar 2014 18:01:58

Celtic stroll closer to title

Celtic continue to close in on the Scottish Premiership title as they strolled to a 3-0 win over a plucky St Mirren at Parkhead.

The win means the Hoops remain 24 points clear of Aberdeen, who have a game in hand, with eight games remaining and are now four points away from clinching a third successive championship.

Leigh Griffiths had an effort ruled out for offside before Stefan Johansen gave Celtic the lead a minute before the break with his first goal for the club.

Griffiths made it 2-0 in the 61st minute as he rounded off a great move before Anthony Stokes added a third in stoppage time.

The Glasgow giants could now seal the championship away to Partick Thistle on Wednesday night if Aberdeen fail to win at Ross County.

"I am delighted with the performance especially in the second half," Celtic manager Neil Lennon said.

"We were a bit wasteful in front of goal at times but I can't ask any more as it's another comprehensive win and another clean sheet."

St Mirren boss Danny Lennon had been impressed by his side's plucky performance.

"Our focus today was to come here and put in a strong performance and I think we did that," said the St Mirren manager.

"It is difficult venue to come to and I think it shows how well we competed when we had 12 shots and could have had more. However, over the piece Celtic deserved their victory."

Celtic dominated early possession but it was St Mirren who carved out the first chance with a superb one-handed save from Fraser Forster keeping out Paul McGowan's strike in the sixth minute.

McGowan didn't have to wait long for another opportunity but when the ball broke to him from a corner he blazed his shot over from 12 yards out.

A quick breakaway saw Stokes race clear but after cutting in from the left he sent a curling shot wide of Marian Kello's post.

Celtic's first shot on target came after Scott Brown picked out Griffiths just outside the box but the striker's tame effort was straight at the 'keeper.

Marc McAusland and Josh Magennis then had efforts blocked by some desperate Celtic defending as St Mirren began to assert themselves on the game.

- Ruled out for offside -

Griffiths had the ball in the net on the half hour mark after Stokes found him with a clever pass but the former Hibernian forward's effort was ruled out for offside.

Liam Henderson thought he had grabbed his first goal for Celtic on his home debut after the ball fell to him following a scramble in the box but his shot from 10 yards was cleared off the line by Sean Kelly.

The Hoops were denied again moments later when Griffiths scampered on to a Kris Commons through ball and rounded Kello only to see his shot headed off the line by Darren McGregor.

Celtic finally made the breakthrough in the 44th minute when Johansen dived to head Griffiths cross past Kello for the Norwegian's first goal for the club.

A good move at the beginning of the second half saw Commons set up Henderson for a chance but the 17-year-old didn't trouble Kello with his weak shot.

Great work from John McGinn saw him burst into the Celtic box and roll the ball into the path of McGowan but the St Mirren forward was crowded out by Virgil van Dijk before he could get a shot away.

Griffiths made it 2-0 in the 61st minute as he applied a fine finish to Stokes' pass to round off a good move for the Hoops.

Commons was inches away from adding a third just a minute later as his fierce strike cannoned off the post before he slammed the rebound into the side netting.

Celtic had the ball in the net again in the 86th minute through Virgil van Dijk but the fag was up for offside before Stokes appealed some gloss to the win as he converted substitute Georgios Samaras' cut-back in stoppage time.


AFP

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