Bhoys ease to win over Inverness despite late comeback

Bhoys ease to win over Inverness despite late comeback

Celtic 4 Inverness 2

Celtic new boy Scott Allan checked in as the Hoops marred a fine performance in their 4-2 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Inverness with some late slackness.

The 23-year-old midfielder was introduced to the crowd before the game following Friday night’s highly-publicised move from Hibernian on a four-year deal.

A boyhood Rangers fan and target of the Ibrox club, who made three unsuccessful bids as the Easter Road club refused to sell to a Championship rival, he was given a good reception by the home fans before they watched goals from Mikael Lustig and Leigh Griffiths give the home side a commanding interval lead.

Midfielder Stuart Armstrong grabbed a double after the break before Caley substitutes Ryan Christie and Dani Lopez pulled goals back.

That will perhaps sow some seeds of doubt in the home side ahead of the first leg of their Champions League play-off against Malmo at Parkhead on Wednesday night, when manager Ronny Deila will want the errors which crept in during the closing stages cut out.

Celtic were at almost full strength as skipper Scott Brown shrugged off a hamstring complaint while Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven also returned.

There was some surprise that Caley’s highly-rated midfielder Christie, linked with a move to Swansea, started on the bench although manager John Hughes put it down to tactics in a pre-match interview.

After Allan took his pre-match bow, his new team-mates set about making amends for dropping two points at Kilmarnock in midweek and they took the lead in the eighth minute when Lustig rose two yards out at the back post to nod in Stefan Johansen’s free-kick.

Number two arrived four minutes later when Griffiths leapt at the back post to head a Nir Bitton cross past Owain Fon Williams for his fourth goal of the season.

Without injured centre-backs Gary Warren and Josh Meekings, the Inverness defence looked vulnerable to crosses and also to Celtic’s slick play.

In the 25th minute Johansen crashed a shot off the bar from a Lustig cut-back before Armstrong’s shot from the rebound was cleared off the line by Ross Draper.

The champions came close again when Griffiths flashed a shot just over the bar before he was thwarted at close range by Fon Williams.

The nearest the William Hill Scottish Cup holders came was a minute before the break when striker Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo’s drive from distance was tipped over the bar by Hoops keeper Craig Gordon for a corner, which came to nothing.

Christie was brought on for Liam Polworth four minutes after the restart but Celtic’s domination continued and they added a third in the 55th minute when Armstrong took a Grififths pass and curled his shot from 16 yards high past Fon Williams.

Just after the hour mark, with an eye to the Malmo game, Deila replaced Brown with Charlie Mulgrew and Lustig with Saidy Janko, moments before Johansen drove just wide from 25 yards.

It seemed all too easy for the champions.

After Armstrong capitalised on a mistake in the Caley defence in the 68th minute to slot in number four, he was immediately replaced by Callum McGregor and then concentration levels dropped.

Three minutes later the Hoops defence gifted Christie an opportunity and he raced clear to knock the ball past Gordon.

And there was some consternation among the home fans when Lopez, on for Carl Tremarco, drilled a shot from the edge of the box past the Parkhead keeper.

It it was far too late for the home side to be put under any real pressure, although Malmo might have the tools to do a bit more harm in midweek.


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