Celtic warm up for Milan with a win

Celtic set themselves up nicely for the Champions League clash with AC Milan by getting the better of Dunfermline in the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Celtic set themselves up nicely for the Champions League clash with AC Milan by getting the better of Dunfermline in the Bank of Scotland Premier League.

Kenny Miller and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink grabbed the goals to secure all three points, before Adam Hammill netted late on for the SPL's bottom club.

The victory also means Celtic can clinch the championship in next week's Old Firm derby if rivals Rangers lose to Hibernian tomorrow.

With next week's trip to the San Siro to consider, it was no real surprise to see Celtic manager Gordon Strachan make changes from the side who enjoyed a dramatic Tennent's Scottish Cup win over Inverness.

Neil Lennon and Jiri Jarosik were both named on the bench, while Paul Hartley was suspended and Mark Wilson dropped out of the 18-man squad.

In came Thomas Gravesen, Aiden McGeady, Paul Telfer and Craig Beattie - the forward's presence proving to be a particular boost for the home side.

Strachan had faced a striking crisis ahead of the game, revealing none of his recognised frontmen were 100% fit in the build-up to the Pars visit.

Beattie and Vennegoor of Hesselink had both been troubled by hamstring injuries, while Maciej Zurawski was rated doubtful with a calf strain.

Even Cillian Sheridan - the teenager who made his debut in last week's cup game - failed to escape the injury curse and was ruled out with a broken hand and back problem.

Strachan went with the front pairing of Beattie and Miller - who was recovering from dental surgery - and the latter had an immediate and dramatic impact on the game.

Telfer released McGeady down the left flank and he embarked on a good run before whipping the ball into the path of Miller in front of goal.

And all he had to do was sidefoot home from a couple of yards with just three minutes gone to hand Celtic a dream start.

Miller could have added to his tally soon after when he was released into the box by Evander Sno only for his shot to be smothered by goalkeeper Dorus De Vries.

De Vries then did well when he was called into action to tip a point-blank Beattie effort just over the crossbar.

Shunsuke Nakamura may have suffered a broken hand against Inverness but he was in fine form and was unfortunate to see his shot flash wide of the target after exchanging a one-two with Miller.

Stephen Glass - who was back in the Dunfermline team after being cup-tied for last week's game against Partick Thistle - had one of their few opportunities when he dispossessed Sno.

But the on-loan Hibernian midfielder was wasteful with the shot, firing well over from the edge of the box.

At the other end, Gravesen tried to send Beattie through on goal with a great ball but the striker's pace let him down and the danger was cleared.

Shortly after the restart, Lee Naylor sent a dangerous ball into the box, which was missed by the head of Miller, but broke to Sno, who flicked wide.

Miller then had the ball in the back of the net again, when he lobbed De Vries from distance, but the effort was ruled offside.

Beattie should have done better with a decent ball across the face of goal from Gravesen but fired harmlessly onto the roof of the net instead.

Then only the woodwork denied Celtic a second goal.

Sublime play from Nakamura saw him twist his way past two Pars players before setting up Miller for the close-range shot but he somehow struck the crossbar instead of the back of the net.

Dunfermline made their first change on the hour-mark, when Owen Morrison was withdrawn for new signing Tam McManus.

Celtic then made a substitution of their own, swapping Beattie for Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Celtic were determined to add to their advantage and they were not too far away when McGeady's effort was just pawed to safety by De Vries.

However, they finally grabbed goal number two from the resultant corner after 76 minutes.

Nakamura picked out Gravesen 35 yards from goal and his volley was helped into the back of the net by the slightest of touches from Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Dunfermline pulled a goal back with three minutes to go, when Hammill beat substitute Darren O'Dea before firing past goalkeeper Artur Boruc from 20 yards.

However, Celtic held on for the win and, with the job done, AC Milan and the San Siro now awaits the Scottish champions.

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