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Stokes double boosts Celtic's title charge
Published : 19 Nov 2011 15:16:56
Anthony Stokes bagged a double to give title chasing Celtic a 2-0 victory over 10-man Inverness on Saturday.
Neil Lennon's side received a boost when Caley midfielder Greg Tansey was controversially sent off by referee Stevie O'Reilly when he jumped for the ball with Georgios Samaras just before half-time.
The decision appeared to be harsh but the momentum switched to the visitors who took full advantage to move within nine points of leaders Rangers.
On the hour Stokes finished a fine move involving James Forrest and Gary Hooper before volleying in a clinching second in the 72nd minute to make it eight goals in eight games.
All ears were on Celtic's travelling support after a UEFA charge of "illicit chanting" during a game against Rennes and an an investigation for alleged pro-IRA chants against Hibernian.
The Celtic fans held up banners before the game which read 'Our music has survived through famine and oppression' and 'Get up, stand up, don't give up your rights'.
In the 12th minute Stokes left Caley defender Ross Tokely for dead after taking a Samaras flick on at the edge of the box but his curling shot was saved by Caley goalkeeper Ryan Esson.
Celtic keeper Fraser Forster made a decent save from Jonny Hayes' low drive in the 18th minute after the home side exerted a spell of pressure.
The game turned when Tansey was shown a straight red by O'Reilly after his challenge on Samaras which left the Greece striker requiring treatment.
Two minutes after the restart, Samaras, being booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball, fired wide from the edge of the box.
The visitors were slowly asserting themselves and it was with a clever move that Stokes put them ahead.
Forrest and Hooper worked a one-two at the edge of the Caley box and when the former Scunthorpe striker played the ball across the six yard box Stokes knocked into an empty net.
Moments later, with Caley on the ropes, Esson was forced to tip a shot from Stokes over the bar.
It was Stokes sealed the win with a fine volley which flew past Esson and into the far corner after Forrest's shot was blocked by Josh Meekings in the 72nd minute.
There was shout for a Caley penalty when Richie Foran tumbled in the box following a challenge by Joe Ledley but O'Reilly was unimpressed.