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Griffiths puts Celtic one win from seventh straight title


Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers blamed Hamilton’s plastic pitch for a lacklustre performance even though his team won 2-1 on Sunday to move one win from a seventh straight Scottish title.

Leigh Griffiths came off the bench to score the winner after Hamilton had been reduced to 10 men in the first-half by Darren Lyon’s red card.

“It was important to win today and we’re nearly there in the league now,” said Rodgers.

“I was always say on the Astroturf pitches it’s very, very difficult to get fast flowing football.”

Despite falling well short of the standards they set in winning a domestic treble without suffering a single defeat last season, Rodgers’s men enjoy a 13-point lead over Rangers and Aberdeen with five games remaining.

Rodgers made five changes to the side that were disappointingly held 0-0 at home by Dundee in midweek.

Manchester City loanee Patrick Roberts was one of those to come into the side for his first start since November and immediately made an impact by teeing up Callum McGregor to open the scoring after just three minutes.

Hamilton are involved in a four-way battle to avoid the drop at the other end of the table.

But the home side battled back into the game to equalise when Rakish Bingham showed Celtic’s sluggish back line a clean pair of heels to run through and slot past Scott Bain.

However, Hamilton’s chances of holding out for an unlikely point suffered a blow before half-time when midfielder Lyon was shown two yellow cards in quick succession for fouling Kieran Tierney and then lashing out at the Scotland international.

Rodgers reacted by introducing an extra striker at the break as Griffiths replaced Jack Hendry.

Griffiths has endured a frustrating season with injuries and inconsistent form seeing him often left on the sidelines.

But he showed his predatory instincts just a minute after being introduced to head Scott Sinclair’s cross into the bottom corner.

“There’s disappointment that he has been out for periods of my time here,” added Rodgers. “But that’s what he does best.”

Celtic dominated possession thereafter, but failed to add to their lead with minds possibly beginning to focus on next weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final with rivals Rangers.

“We need to get ready for next week. We’ll have a good week’s training and recover after three difficult games this week,” said Rodgers.

“We’ve always been excellent at Hampden so hopefully we can do that again, but it’ll be a tough game.”

Their opponents for a possible title party the following week are still unknown with the SPFL yet to announce the fixture list for the final five games of the season when the league splits and sees the top six and bottom six face off in the climax to the season.

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