Tag Archives: mulgrew

Hibs 1 Celtic 0: match report

Hibs 1 Celtic 0: Griffiths halts Hoops' title charge as champions suffer shock defeat

|

UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 29 December 2012

Leigh Griffiths' 14th goal of the season gave Hibernian victory over Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Easter Road.

The on-loan Wolves striker struck in the eighth minute when he rounded Hoops keeper Fraser Forster and squeezed the ball in from an acute angle.

The visitors dominated almost totally thereafter but huffed and puffed when not being denied by Hibees keeper Ben Williams, who had a fine afternoon.

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Match facts

Hibernian: Williams, Clancy (Maybury 58), McPake, Hanlon, Stevenson, Deegan, Taiwo (Handling 87), Claros, Cairney, Doyle, Griffiths (Wotherspoon 72).

Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Caldwell, Kuqi, Donaldson.

Booked: Deegan, Clancy, Taiwo.

Goals: Griffiths 9.

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Rogne (Kayal 70), Izaguirre, Ambrose (McGeouch 87), Brown, Wanyama, Nouioui (McCourt 66),
Samaras, Hooper.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Watt, Chalmers, Kidd.

Booked: Ambrose.

Att: 16,805

Ref: Craig Thomson

Although Eoin Doyle had two good chances before the break to double the home side's lead with Gary Deegan missing another in the second-half, these three points belonged to the Leith side's resolute rearguard who could have seldom withstood such a battering.

Celtic travelled to Glasgow having built up a head of steam with six successive wins but manager Neil Lennon made three changes to his starting XI with defenders Thomas Rogne and Mikael Lustig and striker Lassad Nouioui in for Charlie Mulgrew, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt with the latter two dropping to the bench.

Hibs showed two changes to the side which began the 1-0 home defeat to Ross County on Boxing Day.

Pat Fenlon drafted in defender Lewis Stevenson and midfielder Jorge Claros for David Wotherspoon and Ryan McGivern, the former starting as substitute.

The visitors, playing in all black, had Efe Ambrose, Rogne and Kelvin Wilson as their back three in a 3-5-2 formation which looked ropey in the early stages, even before Hibs took the lead.

Two minutes after Lustig's free-kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Williams, the home side were ahead as the Celtic defence again hesitated.

Griffiths raced on to Paul Hanlon's long ball chased by Rogne and when Forster raced out to meet him, the Hibs striker took the ball wide of the keeper before sliding it with great composure into the net from almost on the bye-line.

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

That goal was not in the Celtic script but in the 12th minute Hibs should have been two ahead when Doyle met a long Griffiths free-kick with his head six yards out his limp effort went straight to Forster.

The champions fought back and Gary Hooper hit the post from a Georgios Samaras pass but the flag was up for offside and as the game swung from end to end, Griffiths was also flagged as Doyle's cross-cum-shot evaded him at the back post.

In the 24th minute, with the Parkhead side beginning to turn the screw, Rogne headed a Lustig corner over the bar.

Celtic had changed to 4-4-2 with Ambrose moving into midfield and it was his mazy run towards the Hibs box where he was fouled by Gary Deegan, which earned the Leith midfielder a booking, which brought the next chance for the visitors.

However, Lassad's curling free-kick from 25 yards went high over the bar.

Hibs, increasingly ragged and occasionally desperate, could hardly get out of their own half as Celtic pressed hard for the leveller.

However, four minutes from the interval Doyle missed another great chance he blazed over the bar from 12 yards with only Forster to beat, after getting the break of the ball.

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

There was no let up from the Parkhead men when the second half started and in the opening minutes the ball flew in and around the Hibs box, without finding any takers.

The home side could find no respite yet in the 55th they had another good chance when Griffiths took a Doyle pass and laid it off to Deegan but he seemed to stub his two in his attempted shot from 10 yards and the ball trundled through to Forster.

Moments later, there was an appeal for a penalty when Doyle was challenged by Emilio Izaguirre in the Celtic box but referee Craig Thomson pointed for a goal kick.

It seemed a matter of time before the champions and SPL leaders would draw level.

In the 77th minute midfielder Victor Wanyama's 30-yard drive screamed just over the bar, before Williams made a decent save from Paddy McCourt, who had replaced Lassad, with skipper Scott Brown knocking the rebound over.

Moments later, after Ambrose had scooped the ball over from close range, Williams made a great save from Hooper, clawing his shot away from 14 yards for a corner which the Hibs' rearguard again defended.

There was time for Williams to make another save, this time from Kayal, who had earlier come on for Rogne, and somehow the final whistle sounded with Hibs having held out for three points.

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

Dundee 0 Celtic 2: Samaras stunner sends Bhoys seven points clear at top

|

UPDATED:

23:25 GMT, 26 December 2012

Temporarily freed from the heavy
demands of European football, Celtic are now beginning to fly. Not quite
yet a speck on the horizon as far as the rest of the SPL are concerned
but, to all intents and purposes, already safely out of reach.

For long enough, those titanic
tussles with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow proved so taxing that
they left Neil Lennon’s men breathless and leggy for domestic duties.
Not now. Not since Spartak were dispatched earlier this month.

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Spectacular: Georgios Samaras (left) puts Celtic ahead

Match facts

Dundee: Douglas, Irvine,Lockwood, Benedictus, Gallagher, McAlister, O'Donnell (Boyle 83), McBride, Conroy, John Baird (Stewart 74), Nish. Subs Not Used: Alex Baird, McGregor, Easton, Reid.

Booked: Benedictus.

Celtic: Forster, Ambrose, Wilson, Mulgrew (Lustig 46), Izaguirre, Wanyama, Brown, Kayal (Forrest 60), Hooper, Samaras, Watt (McCourt 79). Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Nouioui, Rogne.

Booked: Hooper.

Goals: Samaras 16, Hooper 71.

Att: 9,276

Ref: Iain Brines (Scotland).

This was Celtic’s fourth straight win in the SPL since the Russians were put to the sword — with Hearts having been beatean prior to that European clash — and few would bet against the half dozen being racked up by the time the winter break arrives in a week’s time.

They made short work of their first trip to Dens on league business in eight years, goals from Georgios Samaras and Gary Hooper sending them seven points ahead of second-placed Inverness with a game in hand.

What is now a sizeable gap may quickly become a chasm. The expected script for the season is now being adhered to, albeit after a slight deviation from the plot.

The only possible blip for Celtic last night was an apparent elbow from Kelvin Wilson on Dundee’s diminutive striker John Baird as they chased the ball in the first half.

Referee Iain Brines missed the incident and, while the SFA may look at retrospective action, the height difference between the players may save the Parkhead defender from punishment.

Dundee have occasionally threatened to thumb their noses at what many believe to be the inevitable this season, but they are still down among the dead men in 12th place. What an effort it is going to require if they are to dig themselves out of this hole.

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

All pile on: Celtic celebrate Samaras strike

Losing to the Scottish champions was
not, in itself, a hammer blow last night but the points gained earlier
in the day by St Mirren and Ross Country were. Now nine adrift, Barry
Smith’s men will soon be looking for snookers.

The days of chopping and changing appear to be at an end for Celtic.
With the exception of Tony Watt’s introduction at the expense of Lassad,
Lennon stood by the men who dismantled Ross County last Saturday.

The only hint of experimentation was the 4-3-1-2 formation — with Hooper the link man between Watt and Samaras.

For Dens boss Smith, there are no such distractions in his battle to
survive in the elite division. Occasionally, some semi-desperate
measures are required and, with Nicky Riley absent through injury, he
was forced to throw in Stephen O’Donnell for his first start since
August.

O’Donnell was in the thick of it from the off, however. When Emilio
Izaguirre made a hash of a clearance, he seized possession on the edge
of the box and ignored the close attention of Charlie Mulgrew to drive
narrowly over.

Izaguirre redeemed himself further up the field with a peach of a cross
to tee up Watt. His volley forced veteran goalkeeper Robert Douglas to
paw the ball the ball away for a corner. With that, Celtic sparked into
life.

From Mulgrew’s corner, Efe Ambrose thundered a volley off the underside
of the bar. Victor Wanyama failed to control the rebound and fired
wildly over.

Hooper’s low strike then flashed a foot wide of the upright, but it
seemed that the first goal was becoming a matter of when, rather than
if.

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Super: Gary Hooper lobs the ball over Rab Douglas to put Celtic 2-0 in front

Mulgrew’s consistency in delivering from set-pieces is one of the main
weapons in Celtic’s arsenal and last night his ability to land the ball
on a sixpence was a source of torment for the Dens men.

On 16 minutes, he arched his left foot around the ball and picked out
Watt with another heat-seeking missile. Douglas beat away the teenager’s
volley but with insufficient strength to clear the danger. With his
back to goal, Samaras caught the ball cleanly and found the back of the
net with a textbook bicycle kick despite the best efforts of Jim
McAlister on the line.

Were it not for Douglas, Celtic would have had the issue as good as
settled inside 22 minutes. Taking a pass from Samaras, Beram Kayal
bounded towards goal but slipped the Greek back in when he hit the edge
of the box. Samaras’s curling shot looked bound for the far post all the
way until the keeper extended an arm to flick the ball round the post.

Dundee just could not get out in the first half. Each time they looked
up, they were suffocated by a swarm of white shirts. Smith had bravely
opted to play two up front in Colin Nish and Baird to try to stretch the
game, but his pairing were starved of service and his midfield
over-run.

And Nish seemed taken by surprise when Dundee’s best chance of the
evening was put on a plate for him five minutes into the second half.
Ryan Conroy’s cross from the left was top drawer, as was Fraser
Forster’s reaction, but the lumbering striker ought to have given the
Celtic keeper no chance with his header from five yards.

With Nish playing deeper, Dundee improved. Kevin McBride worried Forster
with a low drive then Baird’s shot flew narrowly over after catching
Izaguirre’s shoulder.

Mikael Lustig had replaced Mulgrew at the break and, when James Forrest
stepped on to the turf to replace Kayal after an hour, Celtic’s
freshness down the right was eye-catching.

Their second goal stemmed from there, the ever-improving Lustig picking
out Hooper with a sweet ball over the top. The Englishman saw Douglas
half-a-yard off his line and embarrassed the former Celtic keeper with
an inch-perfect lob.

Coming just seconds after the former Scunthorpe man traded bookings with
Kyle Benedictus for squaring up, it was a sweet moment for the striker.

Dundee’s hopes of staging a comeback died when Forster backtracked to tip Nish’s header over the top with time running out.

The Dark Blues stuck with it and will take something from remaining in
the contest for so long. They know days like these won’t define the rest
of their season, but they can ill-afford to be cut further adrift.

For Celtic, the winter break suddenly looks like it’s coming at the wrong time.

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0 match report:

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0: Wanyama and Hooper on target in Parkhead stroll

|

UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Goals from Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper either side of the break
gave Celtic a comfortable win over St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank
Premier League clash at Parkhead.

In the 15th minute of a one-sided first-half peppered by Hoops penalty
appeals, none of which were given, midfielder Wanyama opened the scoring
at the second attempt following a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose (Izaguirre 72), Wilson, Matthews, Brown, Kayal (McCourt 85), Wanyama, Mulgrew,S amaras (Nouioui 76), Hooper. Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Rogne, Watt.

Goals: Wanyama 15, Hooper 83.

St Mirren: Samson,van Zanten, McAusland, Goodwin, Dummett, Teale, McGinn, Robertson (Guy 82), McLean, Imrie, Thompson (Parkin 74). Subs Not Used: Chris Smith, McGowan, Carey, Reilly, Barron.

Booked: Goodwin.

Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland).

The latest SPL table, fixtures and results

Saints showed resilience if nothing else as they withstood a constant Celtic procession towards their goal but seven minutes from time they succumbed again when former Scunthorpe forward Hooper struck from close range, following another Mulgrew corner.

The Buddies' last victory at Celtic Park was in 1990 and since taking over the St Mirren hotseat in 2010 Danny Lennon has failed to manage a point or even a goal against the champions and earlier in the season the Hoops strolled to a 5-0 victory in Paisley.

Thus, there was no surprise that Celtic emerged victors but it should have been a more convincing scoreline. The Parkhead club will discover in Thursday's Champions League draw who they will face in the last-16 of the competition and they will certainly have to be more ruthless if they are to progress further.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon had called it right when he brought Wanyama and Hooper back in to the side for Emilio Izaguirre and Lassad Nouioui who both dropped to the bench.

Saints boss Lennon also made two changes with midfielder Jon Robertson in for suspended stopper Lee Mair and wide-man Dougie Imrie replacing striker Lewis Guy who started as substitute.

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the second goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Celtic started in determined mood and in the fifth minute, following a Mulgrew corner, there was a penalty appeal amid Wanyama's header and Efe Ambrose's subsequent shot but referee Calum Murray ignored the pleas, perhaps blinded by the sheer number of Saints defenders in the box.

The official took more stick from the Hoops fans when he ignored a further penalty claim when it looked like an Adam Matthews cross from the by-line might have hit a Buddies arm and also when he judged Saints skipper Jim Goodwin and defender Paul Dummett had not sandwiched Hooper in the box.

However, moments later that was all forgotten when Wanyama knocked the ball in from close range after his header from a trademark Mulgrew corner had been spilled by Saints keeper Craig Samson.

In the 26th minute, as the home side continued to monopolise possession, striker Georgios Samaras sent a shot from the edge of the box wide of the far post, before the Greek's low drive from 25 yards moments later drew a decent save from Samson.

With the beleaguered Buddies hanging on, but only just, Ambrose flashed a drive over the bar following yet another Mulgrew corner.

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

At first glance. the interval respite looked to have revitalised the visitors.

With three minutes played in the second-half midfielder Kenny McLean combined with Robertson before sending a drive from the edge of the box over the bar.

However, Celtic should have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Samaras' cross from the by-line to the back post allowed Hooper to set up Scott Brown, whose point-blank header was blocked by Samson, with the Hoops skipper taking a bang in the face for his troubles.

The home fans were growing increasingly irritated by Celtic's apparent determination to walk the ball into the net. Just after the hour-mark, Wanyama, perhaps sensing the mood of the crowd, tried his luck with a 30-yard drive which bounced off Samson but away to safety, before Celtic defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew corner off the bar, with the Paisley side surviving again.

Despite Celtic's reticence in front of goal the visitors still looked unlikely to level but the Celtic support held its breath during a rare away break in the 66th minute when midfielder John McGinn's left-footed drive had keeper Fraser Forster scrambling down to his left to save.

The home side kept pressing for the second goal and in the 79th minute, after Goodwin was booked for a foul on Hooper 30 yards from goal, Mulgrew sent his curling free-kick over the wall but just past the post.

However, Hooper made sure of the points when he was in the right place to flick in after Mulgrew's corner had landed at his feet a couple of yards out after coming off Marc McAusland.

There was still time for Samson to make another save from Hooper down at his right-hand post but by that time the destination of the points were more than certain.

Celtic 2 Spartak Moscow 1: match report

Celtic 2 Spartak Moscow 1: Commons touch sees Hoops through… but nervous Lennon can't watch winning penalty

|

UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 6 December 2012

It just gets better and better at Celtic Park.

On the final whistle strains of London Calling were booming across a delirious stadium, manager Neil Lennon was on the pitch punching the air and his players were cavorting in front of fans going mad with green happiness.

Celtic, fourth seeds in Group G and written off by so many when the draw was made, are into the last 16. The achievement is enormous and the rewards in terms of finance and recognition are deserved.

Main man: Kris Commons (left) celebrates scoring Celtic's winner

Main man: Kris Commons (left) celebrates scoring Celtic's winner

You can look now: Neil Lennon (left) and coach Garry Parker couldn't watch Commons' penalty

You can look now: Neil Lennon (left) and coach Garry Parker couldn't watch Commons' penalty

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig (Matthews 71), Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Mulgrew, Brown (Ledley 84), Kayal (Nouioui 73), Commons, Samaras,
Hooper.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Rogne, Watt.

Booked: Kayal, Lustig.

Goals: Hooper 21, Commons 82 pen.

Spartak Moscow: Pesiakov, Kirill, Kombarov, Insaurralde, Suchy, Dmitri Kombarov, Rafael Carioca, Kallstrom, Jurado, Dzjuba,
Ari (McGeady 61), Emenike.

Subs Not Used: Dykan, Bryzgalov, Pareja, Yakovlev, De Zeeuw, Kozlov.

Sent Off: Kallstrom (88).

Booked: Kallstrom,Dmitri Kombarov,McGeady.

Goals: Ari 39.

Att: 60,000

Ref: Felix Brych (Germany)

The latest Champions League tables, results and fixtures

They had luck, but they
also had bottle. Needing to beat what Benfica did in Barcelona, Celtic
were only matching the draw in Catalonia with eight minutes left. Then
Georgios Samaras went down in the Spartak Moscow box having been barged
by Marek Suchy. A penalty was claimed, but you have seen these not
given.

Referee Felix Brych saw enough in Suchy’s challenge, however, to consider it a foul.

Celtic Park erupted with glee, but that soon subsided when Kris Commons lined up the penalty. Lennon had spoken on Tuesday of the night being Celtic’s ‘moment’ and here it was. Twelve yards and a potential winner and the manager couldn't watch.

Commons has a sweet left foot; he went for power and the ball cannoned in off the bar and behind the Spartak keeper Sergei Pesyakov. For a split second it seemed the ball might ricochet out. But Commons had shown bottle.

There were still eight minutes to go and five added on for good measure. Over in Barcelona, meanwhile, there were six minutes added on. It was an occasion when the mind was in two places.

There was time for Spartak’s midfielder Kim Kallstrom to be sent off but Celtic’s defence held firm and, when in possession, Samaras in particular showed his nous. Celtic saw the game out and the news from Catalonia was perfect. This was their moment.

In front: Gary Hooper opened the scoring for Celtic in the first half

In front: Gary Hooper opened the scoring for Celtic in the first half

‘The players performed a miracle,’ Lennon said. ‘No-one gave us a prayer. It means the world to me to qualify with 10 points.’

Lennon was unable to watch Commons’ strike. It was a night of excruciating tension inside the stadium and Lennon called it ‘absolutely horrible’.

He added: ‘You’re trying to stay calm but inside your stomach is churning. I didn’t watch the penalty, I turned my back. I just wanted to hear if the roar went up. Kris showed great mental strength and that epitomised his night. He was fantastic.’

On their way: Hooper celebrates putting Celtic in front against Spartak Moscow

On their way: Hooper celebrates putting Celtic in front against Spartak Moscow

Of the draw on the 20th, Lennon said:
‘We’re in there, we’re going to enjoy it and who knows where it can
take us The players have grown as the campaign has gone on and some of
them have got recognition. But as a collective there is great belief.

‘It’s very exciting times and the players have justified the beating of Barcelona by qualifying. I didn’t want them to be known just as the team who beat Barcelona.’

They won’t be, not now. To get 10 points in a group with Barcelona, Benfica — who were quarter-finalists last season — and Spartak Moscow, who demonstrated here that they are far from mugs, shows a degree of ability, organisation and determination that goes way beyond good fortune. Lennon, in his first job, is a prospect.

Level: Spartak Moscow's Ari looked to have spoiled the party after scoring an equaliser

Level: Spartak Moscow's Ari looked to have spoiled the party after scoring an equaliser

Pure delight: Spartak Moscow's Ari celebrates his goal which threatened to ruin Celtic's night

Pure delight: Spartak Moscow's Ari celebrates his goal which threatened to ruin Celtic's night

Main man: Celtic's Kris Commons (right) scores his side's winning goal from the penalty spot

Main man: Celtic's Kris Commons (right) scores his side's winning goal from the penalty spot

Main man: Celtic's Kris Commons (right) scores his side's winning goal from the penalty spot

He felt his side had not played well in the first half, and he had a point.

It was a night when the East End of Glasgow had a heightened awareness of events in Catalonia. The first news was not awful, but nor was it great. It was known Barcelona were resting players but the expectation was that Lionel Messi would not be one of them. But Messi was on the bench.

Yet Celtic could do only their job, not two.

Off: Spartak Moscow's Kim Kallstrom (centre) receives a red card for a challenge on Kris Commons

Off: Spartak Moscow's Kim Kallstrom (centre) receives a red card for a challenge on Kris Commons

There was the customary explosion of noise as the Champions League anthem was played, but by eight o’clock there was edginess. There was a report of a Benfica missed sitter in the Nou Camp just before Kallstrom shaved a post here. With nothing to lose, Spartak were playing with freedom.

But then Argentine centre-half Juan Insaurralde produced a clanger and by five past eight Celtic were 1-0 up.

When the lively Samaras fired a 40-yard pass at Gary Hooper, Insaurralde was found instead. A straightforward interception was anticipated but Insaurralde fluffed it. The ball ran to Hooper who, from 20 yards, spanked a shot past Pesyakov.

Party time: Neil Lennon celebrates Celtic's win over Spartak Moscow

Party time: Neil Lennon celebrates Celtic's win over Spartak Moscow

Considering the occasion, Hooper’s finish was impressively cool. Celtic were in the last 16 at that moment but six minutes before half-time they were out again. Emmanuel Emenike was giving the Celtic back four problems and now he bundled past another couple of challenges and slid a pass to the Brazilian called simply Ari. Unmarked, Ari chipped Fraser Forster and though Kelvin Wilson tried to keep the ball out, the net rippled. And Parkhead shivered.

There was an outbreak of celebration at the start of the second half when some thought Barca had scored. Messi was now on but it was still 0-0 there and Benfica sounded on top. The score was relayed to Lennon to make his nerves suffer just that bit more.

But Celtic persevered, Samaras went down, Commons stepped up and Celtic pushed on through. London Calling might be a bit much — the final is at Wembley — but then Celtic’s campaign has been a dream.

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red hot Jordan Rhodes

Luxembourg 1 Scotland 2: Red-hot Rhodes at the double as minnows nearly upset Tartan Army

|

UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 14 November 2012

Jordan Rhodes hit a first-half double as an attack-minded Scotland side began life after Craig Levein with a narrow friendly victory in Luxembourg.

Rhodes, who scored a hat-trick for Scotland Under-21s on his previous trip to the Stade Josy Barthel, headed home from close range on 10 minutes and then slotted a simple second.

However, Scotland failed to build on their lead and survived some nervous moments after Lars Gerson's well-placed free-kick brought Luxembourg back into the game 90 seconds after the break.

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Doubling up: Jordan Rhodes struck twice to earn Scotland a narrow win

Both Scotland goals were followed by
cries of 'Are you watching Craig Levein' from the visiting support, who
vastly outnumbered the home fans in the attendance of 2,521.

Their mood was no doubt lifted by
caretaker manager Billy Stark's 4-4-2 formation with Kenny Miller
partnering Rhodes up front and Steven Naismith and debutant Andrew
Shinnie playing in advanced wide positions.

Levein, who paid the price for taking
two points from Scotland's first four World Cup qualifiers, had last
played two strikers from the start in a 2-1 win against Liechtenstein at
Hampden in September 2010.

Inverness midfielder Shinnie was the
only debutant in the starting line-up but there were rare starts for
Matt Gilks and Grant Hanley, while Charlie Mulgrew lined up in central
midfield.

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Tucked home: Rhodes knocks in the second goal

Match Facts

Luxembourg: Joubert, Mutsch, Bukvic, Deville, Schnell, Janisch, Blaise, Gerson, Payal, Bettmer, Leweck.

Subs: Oberweis, Malget, Hoffmann, Peters, Da Mota Alves, Bensi, Laterza, Philipps, Jans, Turpel.

Goal: Gerson 47

Scotland: Gilks, Whittaker, Dixon, Berra, Hanley, Mulgrew, Fletcher, Shinnie, Naismith, Rhodes, Miller.

Subs: Samson, Webster, Barr, Davidson, Kelly, Griffiths, Bell.

Goals: Rhodes 11, 23

Referee: Cyrill Zimmermann (Switzerland)

The Celtic player saw a lot of the
ball in the opening stages as Scotland dominated possession on a pitch
that was already cutting up.

Rhodes had his first chance when
Luxembourg defender Guy Blaise missed his kick after Naismith had helped
the ball up the left, but the Blackburn striker was well wide as he
steered the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper.

However, Rhodes only had two minutes to wait for the opener after more poor defending.

Scotland worked the ball to Paul Dixon
on the left wing and he sent over an inviting cross which Ante Bukvic
turned against his own post. Rhodes was on hand to head the ball over
the line from close range.

Gilks made his first save in the 16th
minute after Naismith had lost right-back Tom Schnell at a short
free-kick. The defender sent over a deep cross that was met by Mario
Mutsch but the Blackpool goalkeeper got down to hold the header.

Mutsch soon fired wide from 22 yards after Scotland again found themselves a man short down their left.

Miller curled over after a Rhodes
lay-off before the Blackburn forward hit his second in the 23rd minute.
Shinnie collected Whittaker's cross from the right and hit the byline
before driving the ball towards goal.

His effort was blocked but fell for kindly for Rhodes who slipped the ball home with his left foot from six yards.

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Rhodes to glory: The youngster is congratulated by his compatriots

Miller was soon through on goal after a
series of short, sharp passes with Naismith but the flag was raised as
the striker shot straight at Jonathan Joubert.

Scotland continued to control
possession but they were almost caught out before the break when Mutsch
broke down the left and sent over a low cross to right-winger Charles
Leweck, whose drive was held by Gilks.

Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly
replaced Mulgrew at half-time to make his debut but he soon gave away a
foul that allowed the hosts back into the game. The execution was superb
as Gerson curled his 25-yard free-kick into the top corner to leave
Gilks with no chance.

Scotland continued to dominate
possession but were making little headway with Naismith growing
frustrated at the number of fouls committed by the home defenders.

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Scraped: Scotland only won by one goal against the minnow opposition

Leigh Griffiths became the third new cap in the 70th minute when he replaced Shinnie with Miller moving wide right.

Scotland soon had a let-off after a move broke down on the right with Whittaker out of position.

Hanley backed off after David Turpel
collected the ball and the Luxembourg forward turned and sent the ball
inside him and out to Mutsch.

The home captain's cross found Stefano
Bensi in a great position but Gilks did enough to unconvincingly palm
the header wide for a corner.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Battle: Charles Leweck (left) tries to keep up with Scotland's Paul Dixon.

Before the match, Stark had signalled
his intention of making six substitutions but the game was in the
balance and Scotland's formation, now looking more like a 4-2-4, was
giving the hosts space to attack.

Rhodes thought he had his hat-trick as
he headed home Kelly's cross but the flag was immediately raised and
Bensi tested Gilks again with a 20-yard drive that the goalkeeper got
down well to hold.

Gilks then saved Turpel's header
before Murray Davidson won his first cap as the midfielder came on for
Rhodes to see help see out the match in injury-time.

Dundee United 2 Celtic 2: Match report

Dundee United 2 Celtic 2: Ambrose blunder gifts Houston a point as Hoops throw away two-goal lead at the death

|

UPDATED:

15:40 GMT, 4 November 2012

Dundee United came from two behind in dramatic fashion to grab an unlikely share of the points against sloppy Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Tannadice.

The Hoops were leading through goals from Miku, his first for the club since signing on loan from Getafe in the summer, and Tony Watt and looked certain to take the points back to Glasgow.

However, in the final minute of normal time United substitute Gary Mackay-Steven, on for Richie Ryan, scored what looked like a late consolation only for Efe Ambrose, on for the injured Thomas Rogne, to put a Barry Douglas cross past his own goalkeeper Fraser Forster in injury time.

Slice of luck: Dundee United players celebrate saving a point at the death against Celtic

Slice of luck: Dundee United players celebrate saving a point at the death against Celtic

MATCH FACTS

Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Douglas, Flood, Ryan (Mackay-Steven 64), Rankin, Armstrong (Skacel 74), Daly, Russell (Millar 90)

Goals: Mackay-Steven 89, Ambrose OG 90

Subs not used: Banks, McLean, Gardyne, Dow,

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Rogne (Ambrose 20), Wilson, Izaguirre (Miku 49), Brown, Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew, Commons (McCourt 82), Watt

Goals: Mike 69, Watt 80

Booked: Izaguirre, Wanyama, Brown, Watt

Subs not used: Zaluska, Lustig, Kayal, Ibrahim

Referee: Willie Collum

Celtic went back top of the SPL table
but it was not the end to the game manager Neil Lennon was looking for
ahead of Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Barcelona at
Celtic Park.

However, United boss Peter Houston,
who watched his side lose against Hearts on penalties in their Scottish
Communities League Cup quarter-final in midweek, will be delighted at
taking a point from a game that looked all over when Watt scored with 10
minutes remaining.

Lennon made three changes to the team which beat St Johnstone 5-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday night.

Adam Matthews, Rogne and Charlie
Mulgrew came in at the expense of Mikael Lustig, Ambrose and Gary
Hooper, the latter not even on the bench.

Houston brought in Douglas for
Michael Gardyne, who started as substitute, which allowed skipper Jon
Daly to resume his place in attack.

It was not until the 13th minute that
fans witnessed their first real piece of goalmouth action when Rogne
headed Scott Brown's cross from the right past the post from no more
than eight yards.

On the way: Miku scores Celtic's opener midway through the second half

On the way: Miku scores Celtic's opener midway through the second half

Relief: Mike celebrates after giving Celtic the lead at Tannadice

Relief: Mike celebrates after giving Celtic the lead at Tannadice

The visitors were busier and more
purposeful but suffered a blow in the 20th minute when Ambrose had to
replace Rogne after the Norwegian stopper limped off with a leg injury.

Moments later, Celtic threatened
again when midfielder Victor Wanyama burst powerfully through the middle
and when Kris Commons sent a cross from wide on the right to the far
post, Watt headed over.

It took a timely intervention by
Douglas in the 28th minute to prevent Commons getting a clear strike on
target from 14 yards after the Hoops midfielder had been played in
Brown, with the ball trickling back to Radoslaw Cierzniak.

Doubling up: Tony Watt was on hand to put Celtic two goals ahead against Dundee United

Doubling up: Tony Watt was on hand to put Celtic two goals ahead against Dundee United

Cause for concern: Celtic celebrations were tempered by an injury worry over Emillio Izaguirre

Cause for concern: Celtic celebrations were tempered by an injury worry over Emillio Izaguirre

The home side were very slowly making
their way into the game and in the 35th minute United midfielder Stuart
Armstrong finished off a fine move by thrashing a drive from 25 yards
over the bar.

Celtic reasserted themselves before the break and should have taken the lead five minutes from the interval.

Mulgrew's whipped-in cross from the
left found Brown unmarked inside the box but the Celtic skipper failed
to get a proper connection on the ball with his head and it flew wide.

The champions almost took the lead
less than a minute after the restart when Watt released overlapping
left-back Emilio Izaguirre inside the United box but the Honduran hit
the outside of the post with his left-footed effort.

Men in the middle: Victor Wangama and John Rankin get stuck in at Tannadice

Men in the middle: Victor Wangama and John Rankin get stuck in at Tannadice

Almost immediately Izaguirre was replaced by Miku, who went up alongside Watt, with Mulgrew moving to left-back.

Moments later United missed their
best chance of the match. Former Celtic midfielder Willo Flood's
powerful long-range shot was spilled by Forster and Johnny Russell
blazed over the bar from around eight yards out.

Then, after Wanyama was booked for a
foul on John Rankin, from Douglas's free-kick United defender Gavin
Gunning stabbed the ball wide from six yards.

Tussle: Celtic captain Scott Brown tries to get away from Dundee United's John Rankin

Tussle: Celtic captain Scott Brown tries to get away from Dundee United's John Rankin

But when Celtic's landmark opener
from Miku arrived soon afterwards it was well deserved. Wanyama
combined with Watt, who played in the Venezuelan, and he calmly chipped
the ball over Cierzniak from 10 yards and raced to take the acclaim of
the Celtic fans, before picking up a booking by referee Willie Collum
for his troubles.

The home side had only themselves to blame when Watt grabbed the Hoops' second with 10 minutes remaining.

A poor clearance from Cierzniak
arrived at the feet of the teenage striker and he bore down on goal
before rifling in a shot before he too was booked for leaving the pitch.

It looked to be all over for United,
even when Mackay-Steven guided the ball past Forster after Kelvin Wilson
had cleared a shot from United substitute Rudi Skacel, on for
Armstrong.

However, there was more drama to
follow in the first minute of added time when Ambrose, at full stretch,
headed a Douglas cross into his own net to leave the travelling fans and
Lennon bemused.

Manchester City and United on alert after Victor Wanyama snubs new Celtic deal

Manchester City and United on alert after Wanyama snubs new Celtic deal

|

UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 25 October 2012

Manchester giants United and City are
poised to run the rule over Victor Wanyama during Celtic's Champions
League home clash with Barcelona.

Sportsmail understands the Premier League titans will travel to Glasgow
after agents for the 10million-rated Kenyan international snubbed an
improved, extended contract offer from the Parkhead club.

Highly-rated: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (centre)

Highly-rated: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (centre)

Wanyama's agent Ivan Modia, who represents the player along with South African-based business partner Rob Moore, told Sportsmail: 'We had a meeting with Celtic in the first week of October and the proposal was rejected shortly after the meeting.

'We have not held further discussions and it is up to Celtic if they want to resume talks with a different proposal.'

At the request of manager Neil Lennon, the Scottish champions entered discussions with a raft of their key Champions League performers, tying down James Forrest, Charlie Mulgrew and Adam Matthews on new deals.

Celtic's Victor Wanyama rises above Steven Thompson

However, talks with Wanyama and star striker Gary Hooper have not been settled.

Liverpool watched Hooper in Tuesday's 2-1 defeat in the Nou Camp, with contract talks ongoing.

But it is Wanyama who is attracting the biggest interest, despite Celtic offering no encouragement to Queens Park Rangers in the final hours of the last window. The SPL champions want 10m and won't sell for less.

'It's not a problem for Victor. He is very happy at Celtic and is grateful for the opportunity the club has given him,' added Modia.

'He has loved every minute of his time here and will continue to be the consummate professional. He will continue to give his all for the club.

'He still has two years to run on his contract after this season so there is no urgency to agree new terms.

'We are aware of interest but he is contracted to Celtic. It is up to them to determine what happens.'

Beram Kayal says Celtic"s defeat to Barcelona was their own fault

Kayal lament: Beram claims Bhoys' cruel defeat was self-inflicted

|

UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 24 October 2012

Beram Kayal claimed Celtic were architects of their own downfall in Barcelona for not dealing with the cross that cost them a priceless point at the death.

The Catalans waited until the 94th minute to claim the win that keeps them top of Group G — Jordi Alba connecting with Adriano’s cross to break Celtic’s hearts.

Neil Lennon’s side left Spain with no points but no shortage of plaudits for pushing the four-times European Cup winners all the way.

It's our fault: Beram Kayal watches Lionel Messi

It's our fault: Beram Kayal watches Lionel Messi

But midfielder Kayal, a second-half substitute for Charlie Mulgrew, felt losing the goal under such circumstances was unforgiveable.

‘We defended well until the 94th minute,’ he told Israeli radio.

‘We played well from a team point of view but, unfortunately, lost it in the last minute.

‘It’s a shame because we could have held on to the ball for that last minute.

Bitter blow: Adriano Correia celebrates after Jordi Alba scored Barcelona's winner

Bitter blow: Adriano Correia celebrates after Jordi Alba scored Barcelona's winner

‘The ball came to Adriano, I was standing on the edge of the box and he put over a low, dipping cross that beat everyone and he (Alba) put it in. It left us in shock. It’s very disappointing. ‘You work hard and sweat blood, especially against a team like Barcelona, who aren’t easy to get a draw out of. It’s a really bad feeling.

‘Before the game, we knew we’d have to work hard in defence and that most of the time we wouldn’t have the ball.

‘But the goal was with the last cross and we couldn’t get the ball away. True, we were playing the best team in the world, but we’re professionals and more than anything we wanted to come away with a good result.’

Heartbreak: Celtic's players waves to their fans at the end of the game

Heartbreak: Celtic's players waves to their fans at the end of the game

As Lennon’s side touched down in Glasgow, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell paid tribute to the efforts of the Parkhead players, saying: ‘It was a tremendous occasion and one that we were delighted to be involved in. The UEFA Champions League is the stage which Celtic strive to compete on and we have shown this season that we deserve our place alongside Europe’s elite clubs.

‘To play a team of Barcelona’s quality, rightly regarded as the best club side in the world, is the toughest football challenge we can face, but Neil and his players rose magnificently to that challenge and were desperately unlucky not to get what we all felt would have been a well-deserved point for our magnificent efforts.’

Barcelona 2 Celtic 1 – match report

Barcelona 2 Celtic 1: Last-gasp Alba strike sinks dogged Hoops at Nou Camp

|

UPDATED:

21:06 GMT, 23 October 2012

An injury time goal from Jordi Alba stunned Celtic and gave Barcelona a dramatic victory in their pulsating Champions League Group G clash at the Nou Camp.

Celtic had led at the famous stadium when, in the 18th minute, Georgios Samaras' header from a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick went in off the back of Barcelona's makeshift centre-back Javier Mascherano.

And it looked for a while like the Greek striker, who had scored the winner against Spartak Moscow earlier in the month to clinch Celtic' first away victory in the competition, might have just have played his part in an even more momentous goal.

Drama: Jordi Alba (right) condemned Celtic to defeat in the dying moments of the game

Drama: Jordi Alba (right) condemned Celtic to defeat in the dying moments of the game

Gutted: Kris Commons (right) and Gary Hooper had to kick off, despite Alba's goal being decisive

Gutted: Kris Commons (right) and Gary Hooper had to kick off, despite Alba's goal being decisive

Get in: Andres Iniesta scored Barcelona's equaliser just before the break

Get in: Andres Iniesta scored Barcelona's equaliser just before the break

MATCH FACTS

Barcelona: Valdes, Adriano, Bartra, Mascherano, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Song, Iniesta, Sanchez (Villa 80), Messi, Pedro (Tello 76).

Subs Not Used: Pinto, Fabregas, Jonathan, Montoya, Sergi Roberto.

Booked: Mascherano, Adriano.

Goals: Iniesta 45, Jordi Alba 90.

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Samaras (Forrest 43), Brown (Commons 63), Wanyama, Ledley, Mulgrew (Kayal 76), Hooper.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Matthews, Miku, Rogne.

Booked: Forrest.

Goals: Samaras 18.

Attendance: 75,000

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy).

Latest Champions League results, fixtures and table

However, a minute before the break
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta levelled, and with the four minutes
of injury time almost played at the end of an exhausting evening,
defender Alba sneaked in at the back post to slide in an Adriano cross.

However they may have felt, the
Celtic players were applauded off by their supporters and manager Neil
Lennon would surely have been proud with his side's spirited
performance.

Fraser Forster was in outstanding
form, especially in the second half as he made a series of saves to show
just why he had been included in Roy Hodgson's England squad for the
World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

Moreover, with Spartak beating
Benfica 2-1 in Moscow, the Hoops remain in second place with four points
from three games as they await the visit of Barcelona to Glasgow for
the return game in a fortnight.

Samaras, skipper Scott Brown, Mikael
Lustig and Emilio Izaguirre returned to the Celtic side while Kris
Commons and James Forrest recovered from respective hamstring and groin
injuries which kept them out of the win over St Mirren in Paisley on
Saturday to take their place on the bench.

Against the odds: Giorgios Samaras put Celtic one up after his header ricocheted off Javier Mascherano

Against the odds: Giorgios Samaras put Celtic one up after his header ricocheted off Javier Mascherano

Maestro: Lionel Messi tried his luck against Charlie Mulgrew

Maestro: Lionel Messi tried his luck against Charlie Mulgrew

Injured Barca centre-back Gerard
Pique joined Carles Puyol, Dani Alves and Eric Abidal on the sidelines
and Sergio Busquets was suspended.

Coach Tito Vilanova gave 21-year-old
Marc Bartra his first game of the season alongside midfielder Mascherano
in central defence, while Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi went into
the match on the back of a hat-trick in Saturday's 5-4 win over
Deportivo La Coruna.

Celtic should have gone behind in the
second minute when Iniesta split the Hoops defence open with a sublime
pass to find Alexis Sanchez but his shot sped past the far post.

The home side, as expected, had the vast bulk of possession but were far from purposeful.

Their next opening did not come until
the ninth minute when left-back Alba got in behind the Celtic defence
but Izaguirre did well to prevent Pedro getting on the end of the cross.

It seemed like a matter of time before Barcelona, although more methodical than magical, would get the breakthrough.

However, the first half turned on its
head within a minute. Forster pulled off a great save from Bartra's
close-range header after the rookie defender had got on the end of an
Iniesta cut-back following more prompting by Messi.

Going nowhere: Alexis Sanchez (right) is brought down on the edge of the Celtic area

Going nowhere: Alexis Sanchez (right) is brought down on the edge of the Celtic area

Early finish: Samaras was forced to leave the pitch after landing awkwardly on his ankle in the first half

Early finish: Samaras was forced to leave the pitch after landing awkwardly on his ankle in the first half

Early finish: Samaras was forced to leave the pitch after landing awkwardly on his ankle in the first half

The Scottish champions took immediate
advantage of their good fortune when Sanchez conceded a free-kick for a
foul on Brown wide on the right. Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick was met
by the head of Samaras and the ball came off the challenging Mascherano
and went past the helpless Victor Valdes.

The several thousand Hoops fans high up in the stands could hardly believe what they had witnessed.

Barcelona were stung into action and Messi curled a free-kick over the bar after Brown had fouled him 30 yards from goal.

Moments later, Bartra should have done
better from Iniesta's perfectly-weighted cross from the left but failed
to connect properly with his header and the ball went wide.

In the 32nd minute, with the Celtic
defence pinned back, Forster made a decent save from right-back
Adriano's long-distance drive.

The home side looked suspect when
Celtic attacked but in the 37th minute Messi, after being fouled by
Wilson, went close once more with another free-kick from distance which
just cleared the bar.

Two minutes from the break Samaras was replaced by Forrest after going over on his ankle.

Frustrated: Messi could not make a breakthrough early in the game as Celtic stood firm at the Nou Camp

Frustrated: Messi could not make a breakthrough early in the game as Celtic stood firm at the Nou Camp

In the thick of it: Celtic fans were outnumbered in Barcelona but made their voices heard

In the thick of it: Celtic fans were outnumbered in Barcelona but made their voices heard

A minute later Barcelona were level
when Iniesta, after taking a Messi pass, worked a one-two with skipper
Xavi Hernandez before sliding the ball past Forster from 12 yards as he
slid to the ground.

It was a sickener for Lennon's side who had worked so diligently.

Barcelona dominated possession at the
start of the second half although they had a lucky escape in the 53rd
minute when Mulgrew's corner from the right came off Victor Wanyama at
the back post with the ball skipping only a yard past the post.

Commons came on for the struggling
Brown in the 63rd minute but Barcelona continued to beat a relentless
path towards the Celtic goal.

Forster thwarted Messi and Iniesta as the pressure intensified.

In the 68th minute the Englishman made a terrific point-blank save from Messi after the Argentina ace was set up by Adriano.

As Barcelona camped at the edge of the
Celtic box, and the defending became more desperate, Forster made
further fine saves from Sanchez and Messi.

Barcelona substitute David Villa, on
for Alexis Sanchez, crashed a drive off the base of the post but just
when it looked like Celtic would hold out, Alba popped up with the
winner to break Hoops hearts.

Solid: Fraser Forster (right) performed brilliantly between the sticks

Solid: Fraser Forster (right) performed brilliantly between the sticks

St Mirren 0 Celtic 5: Bhoys batter Saints as Lennon"s men cruise in Nou Camp warm-up

St Mirren 0 Celtic 5: Bhoys batter Saints as Lennon's men cruise in Nou Camp warm-up

|

UPDATED:

13:54 GMT, 20 October 2012

Celtic warmed up for a trip to the Nou Camp by thrashing St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash in Paisley.

Goals from Gary Hooper and Efe Ambrose, then Victor Wanyama's double, gave an under-strength Hoops side an unassailable interval lead against sorry-looking Saints.

Tony Watt scored with four minutes remaining to seal a commanding victory, which manager Neil Lennon would have wanted ahead of their Champions League Group G clash with Barcelona on Tuesday night.

No mistake: Efe Ambrose scores the second after St Mirren keeper Craig Samson fumbled

No mistake: Efe Ambrose scores the second after St Mirren keeper Craig Samson fumbled

Match facts

St Mirren: Samson, Van Zanten, McAusland, Mair, Dummett, Guy, Carey, Goodwin (McGinn 78), McLean, Barron (Imrie 46), Thompson. Subs not used: Chris Smith, Robertson, Parkin, Teale, Jack Smith.

Booked: Mair, McAusland.

Celtic: Forster, Matthews (Lustig 75), Wilson (Izaguirre 46), Mulgrew, Ambrose, Wanyama, Ledley, Kayal, Nouioui (Miku 57), Hooper, Watt. Subs not used: Zaluska, McCourt, Rogne, Ibrahim.

Booked: Wanyama.

Goals: Hooper 15, Ambrose 18, Wanyama 32, 38, Watt 86.

Att: 6,008.

Ref: Calum Murray.

Lennon will have some welcome selection headaches for Spain as his starting line-up had several key players missing.

Skipper Scott Brown (hip), winger
James Forrest (groin) and midfielder Kris Commons (hamstring) were out
and striker Georgios Samaras was rested with full-backs Emilio Izaguirre
and Mikael Lustig starting on the bench.

Saints boss Danny Lennon made one
change and reshuffled his team, with defender David Barron coming in for
striker Sam Parkin – who started on the bench. However, his men were
crushed in a one-sided first half.

The SPL leaders might have started
with a weakened side but they looked sharp and purposeful from the first
minute when Buddies goalkeeper Craig Samson had to rush from his goal
to foil Watt, who tried to latch on to a flick from Lassad.

In the 13th minute Hoops keeper
Fraser Forster was forced into a decent save at his near post from Lewis
Guy's volley after a great curling cross from Buddies' midfielder David
van Zanten had picked out the unmarked Paisley striker.

Up and running: Gary Hooper fires Celtic's first

Up and running: Gary Hooper fires Celtic's first

Moments later, at the other end,
Celtic's stand-in captain Joe Ledley's drive was more easily saved by
Samson but the Saints number one was soon to be beaten twice in three
minutes.

Hooper was playing in an unfamiliar
role behind Watt and Lassad but it made him no less of a goal threat and
in the 15th minute he was perfectly placed to help the Tunisia
international Lassad's cross into the net.

Celtic's second came three minutes
later when Charlie Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick was spilled by Samson
and Ambrose was on hand to scoop the ball high into the net before
entertaining the Hoops fans with a quadruple somersault celebration of
his first goal for the Parkhead club.

Three and easy: Victor Wanyama hit two at St Mirren Park

Three and easy: Victor Wanyama hit two at St Mirren Park

Kenny McLean saw a tame drive saved
by Forster before it was 3-0 in the 32nd minute when Matthews' deep
corner from the right bounced off defender Paul Dummett straight into
the path of Wanyama, who fired it low past Samson.

The rampant visitors should have made
it 4-0 in four minutes later but Ledley headed another good Mulgrew
free-kick over the bar from only six yards out.

However, the next Celtic goal, and
the best of the game, arrived in the 38th minute when Wanyama took a
Mulgrew pass and from 30 yards curled the ball past the despairing
Samson.

Celtic looked in the mood to pile on
the misery for Saints but Ambrose missed a great chance to grab his
second when he headed over.

Skipping away: Tony Watt evades the challenge of David Barron

Skipping away: Tony Watt evades the challenge of David Barron

Unsurprisingly, St Mirren manager
Danny Lennon made a change at the break with Dougie Imrie replacing
Barron while Izaguirre came on for Kelvin Wilson, with Mulgrew moving
into the centre of defence. Celtic then replaced Lassad with Miku.

The Parkhead men continued to pepper
the Saints goal with efforts and in the 63rd minute van Zanten prevented
Wanyama taking home the match ball when he headed clear the
midfielder's goalbound header from Matthews' corner.

In the 67th minute Steven Thompson had a point-blank shot saved by Forster before Carey blasted the rebound wide.

As the minutes ticked away the former
Rangers striker headed a van Zanten free-kick wide of the target before
flicking Jim Goodwin's cross over.

That's my boy: Neil Lennon congratulates Ambrose

That's my boy: Neil Lennon congratulates Ambrose

But Celtic threatened continuously.
In the 85th minute Hooper was too casual with his attempt at lobbing
Samson when he clean through on goal, allowing the Saints keeper to
save.

However, a minute later the tireless
Watt got the goal he deserved when he bulleted a close-range header past
Samson after being set up by Izaguirre.

Wanyama came close and Samson saved
Hooper's close-range header as Celtic finished with a flourish to
reinforce their place as the top team in Scotland, although they will
undoubtedly find it more difficult against Barca.