Celtic 2-0 Hamilton: Match Report
Moussa Dembele inspires Celtic to victory over strugglers Hamilton
Moussa Dembele made the difference once again with a double in Celtic's 2-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win over bottom side Hamilton at Parkhead.
The 20-year-old French striker lit a dull first half with a wonderful strike from the edge of the box just before the break.
Dembele then added a second from the spot just before the hour mark to take him to 29 goals for the season before he was replaced by fit-again Leigh Griffiths.
The runaway Premiership leaders coasted thereafter to their 21st consecutive league win as they extended their unbeaten domestic run since the start of the season to 32 games.
As the stats become more impressive by the week, Brendan Rodgers' side maintained their 24-point lead over Aberdeen as they motor towards a sixth successive title.
Meanwhile Accies, who face Aberdeen on Tuesday before meeting other top-six sides Hearts, Rangers and St Johnstone in the coming weeks, face a tough fight for survival.
Rodgers continues to tweak his side and made three changes, with midfielder Stuart Armstrong, right-back Cristian Gamboa and centre-back Erik Sviatchenko restored at the expense of Mikael Lustig, Jozo Simunovic and Liam Henderson.
Martin Canning found his side bottom of the table for the first time this season after Inverness' win over Rangers on Friday night and he brought in Grant Gillespie and former academy player Steven Boyd, with Craig Watson and Eamonn Brophy dropping to the bench.
Rodgers had called for protection for his players from referees after a couple of recent high-profile fouls.
The Hoops boss found himself having to make a change after only nine minutes when midfielder James Forrest was crunched by a Danny Redmond tackle two minutes earlier.
Having failed to respond to treatment the Hoops midfielder was replaced Gary Mackay-Steven.
Celtic found it all a bit of a struggle. Winger Scott Sinclair came close with a 25-yard drive midway through the first half as the ball flew just over.
Moments later, in a rare Hamilton counter, wide-man Dougie Imrie sliced his left-footed drive wide after being set up by Darian McKinnon.
However, the home side should have taken the lead in the 31st minute after a Kieran Tierney cross had provided an open goal for Armstrong, but from three yards out the midfielder somehow hit the bar.
Accies must have thought they were getting all the way to the interval unscathed, but with seconds of the half remaining Dembele stepped away from former Celt Massimo Donati and from the edge of the box curled a right-footed shot over Hamilton keeper Garry Woods to bring Celtic Park to its feet.
The Frenchman almost got another at the start of the second half when he ran on to a Tierney cross but was denied by a blocking Accies foot for a fruitless corner.
However, after Donati fouled Tierney inside the box in the 59th minute as the defender drove towards goal, Dembele thrashed in the penalty.
Sinclair had the ball in the net from a Mackay-Steven pass but the offside flag was up before Dembele received an ovation as he was replaced by Griffiths, back after another niggling calf injury.
Celtic cruised the final stages looking for a third - albeit Celtic keeper Craig Gordon made a fine injury-time save from Accies substitute Eamonn Brophy - but content in the end with another perfunctory victory.