Glasgow (AFP) – Moussa Dembele bagged a double to give Celtic a comfortable 2-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Hamilton at Parkhead and maintain their mammoth lead in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.
The in-form French forward — linked to a number of English Premier League clubs — opened the scoring with a superb strike seconds before the break.
The 20-year-old added a second in the 59th minute from the penalty spot for his 29th goal in 42 appearances for the Hoops since signing from Fulham in the summer.
Celtic remain 24 points ahead at the top of the table and extend their unbeaten domestic run to 32 matches since the start of the season.
Second-placed Aberdeen extended their advantage over Rangers, who lost 2-1 to Inverness on Friday, to nine points with a 1-0 win over Ross County at Pittodrie.
Inverness’s win meant Hamilton slipped to the foot of the table for the first time this season, but the vast gulf between them and Celtic didn’t intimidate the visitors, who made the stronger start, with Danny Redmond dragging a shot just wide early on.
The Hoops lacked their usual high tempo and were reduced to a long-range effort from Kieran Tierney that flew over before Scott Sinclair came closer with a similar effort minutes later.
A quick breakaway from Hamilton then saw Darian McKinnon tee up Dougie Imrie for a chance just inside the box but the veteran winger sliced his effort wildly off-target.
The Hoops were far from their best but should have had the lead in the 33rd minute when Tierney’s low ball across the face of goal found Stuart Armstrong on his own at the far post, but the midfielder somehow smacked his shot off the bar from two yards out.
With the game heading to the break goalless, a moment of magic from Dembele fired Celtic in front.
The France under-21 international showed great skill to step away from Massimo Donati before sending a curling strike into the top corner from 20 yards out.
Celtic were again slow to get going in the second half but doubled their advantage on the hour from the penalty spot.
Tierney’s jinking run into the box was halted by a crude challenge from Donati — to compound a miserable afternoon for the Italian against his former club — and Dembele coolly sent his spot-kick high into the centre of the net for his ninth goal in four games.
Sinclair thought he had added a third late on when he applied the finishing touch to a Gary Mackay-Steven through ball but the winger’s effort was flagged off-side.
Motherwell are just three points off bottom spot following a 5-1 defeat at home to Dundee while Hearts — knocked out of the Scottish Cup to city rivals Hibs in midweek — lost 2-0 at Partick Thistle.