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Connolly's Column: Dembele and The Week Ahead

Rangers v Celtic - Betfred Cup Semi Final Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Our writer Martin Connolly with a look at recent events at Celtic

It may not have been the thrashing that many expected, but Celtic were able to extend their domestic winning streak to 25 with a 2-0 win over Hamilton. Though it was first against last in the standings at Celtic Park, the visitors provided much defensive resistance and could consider themselves unlucky to head into the break a goal down. The ideal occurrence for Martin Canning’s side would have been to hold the leaders at half time, thus creating a nervous second period for Celtic. Moussa Dembele had other ideas, however.

Skipping past a defender before unleashing a curling shot into the back of the net. A moment of magic from Moussa, one which the Celtic faithful have become accustomed to this past year. The summer signing from Fulham has starred for Brendan Rodgers’ team during this record-breaking campaign, attracting interest from European clubs near and afar. What happens in the upcoming transfer window remains to be seen, but for now you can’t help but enjoy Dembele’s rise to stardom at Celtic Park.

Prior to Dembele’s opener, Celtic pressed for one that somehow didn’t arrive sooner. Stuart Armstrong, one of three incoming players from last week’s 2-0 win against Motherwell, had a magical moment of his own, except it was more to do with how he actually managed to miss the goal that was gaping as he blazed his shot off the woodwork. Scott Sinclair also blazed over, but from much further out. Hamilton’s resistance was stubborn, and Celtic were lacking ideas on how to break their defensive hold down. It’s for reasons like this that Dembele has become so valuable.

The second half was much of the same. Celtic pressed their opponents well, limiting the space provided to them and eventually doubled their lead before the hour mark. Kieran Tierney, who had another impressive performance bombing up and down the left hand side, cut inside only to be fouled by Massimo Donati. Dembele converted the spot kick for his and Celtic’s second of the day. It put the icing on the cake for another exciting performance from the young forward.

Celtic remained 24 points clear of Aberdeen, who needed a late goal from Adam Rooney to secure all three points at home to Ross County. The next week will play a pivotal role in the club’s attempt at their first domestic treble since 2001, as they travel to Inverness on Wednesday before hosting St Mirren on Sunday in the Scottish Cup quarter finals. It wasn’t the prettiest of performances versus Hamilton, but as they have done so often this season, Celtic relied on hard work, good pressing and a bit of Moussa magic to pick up all three points. This formula has worked so far, with the victory giving the players the momentum they need for the upcoming schedule.

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