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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Livingston 0-2 Celtic
Maloney celebrates his goal with man-of-the-match Neil Lennon
Maloney celebrates his goal with man-of-the-match Neil Lennon
Celtic moved to within one victory of the SPL title as they disposed of a resilient Livingston.

The bottom-of-the-table side held their own in the first half but fell behind in the 47th minute.

Shaun Maloney's cross was touched on by Shunsuke Nakamura and Maciej Zurawski converted from close range.

Maloney made it 2-0 with a well-taken penalty four minutes later after Manu Dorado was adjudged to have fouled Dion Dublin in the Livingston box.

The opening 45 minutes were fairly even, however, and both sides had exceptional chances to score early on.

First the unmarked Zurawski headed off the top of the bar from six yards, and then Artur Boruc produced an excellent save, sticking out his right leg to deny Richie Brittain from close range.

Stephen McManus was perhaps fortunate to stay on the park following a dreadful two-footed lunge on Allan Walker, but referee Kenny Clark felt a yellow card was sufficient.

Zurawski was presented with another opportunity to break the deadlock after 26 minutes when Nakamura slipped him through on goal, but Livi keeper Roddy McKenzie bravely smothered the ball at the Pole's feet.

Livingston were giving as good as they got and Sam Morrow watched a glancing header come back off the bar, though the assistant referee's flag had wrongly gone up in any case.

Walker tested Boruc from 22 yards just before half-time, but the keeper was equal to his powerful drive.

Zurawski celebrates Celtic's opening goal
Zurawski celebrates Celtic's opening goal

All Livingston's good work was undone in the opening minutes of the second half as Celtic scored twice.

Zurawski finally got on the scoresheet when he pounced on Maloney's cross, which was touched on by Nakamura, to prod the ball past McKenzie.

Minutes later, Maloney doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Dorado was penalised for a tug on Dublin.

That second goal really took the sting out of the game, with Celtic rarely looking troubled.

They could have had a third goal with seven minutes remaining when McKenzie lost possession of the ball but Stilian Petrov steered his shot wide as the Livingston keeper scrambled back into position.

Then Maloney sent a curling free kick just inches over the bar, but the game had been over to all intents and purposes since the second goal was scored.

  • Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
    "We've got a big chance to win it in 10 days. It's in our own hands.

    "For 15 minutes we were really hot, so it's been a good week for us, with the League Cup win last week and the win over Inverness on Wednesday.

    "I'm happy with the points. Livingston were excellent in the first half. They should be pleased with their display."

  • Livingston manager John Robertson:
    "We were terrific in the first half. We got about Celtic well and could and should have been ahead.

    "Celtic were maybe fortunate to keep McManus on the park and it's wee things like that you need to go your way.

    "At the start of the second half, Celtic finished us with a quick goal and a soft penalty - Dion Dublin went down very easily.

    "We asked the referee before the game to watch Artur Boruc at crosses - we'd noticed that he has a habit of barging people in front of him out of the way.

    "But it happened at the first corner and we got nothing."

    Livingston: McKenzie, Mackay, Strong, Dorado, Tierney, McNamee (Healy 57), Adams (Dorrans 61), Brittain, Hoolahan, Morrow, Walker.

    Subs Not Used: Snodgrass, Roy, Hislop, Miller, Whelan.

    Booked: Walker, Strong.

    Celtic: Boruc, Telfer (Wallace 45), McManus, Balde, Wilson (Varga 64), Nakamura, Petrov, Lennon, Maloney, Dublin (Hartson 80), Zurawski.

    Subs Not Used: Marshall, Thompson, Pearson, Lawson.

    Booked: McManus.

    Goals: Zurawski 47, Maloney 52 pen.

    Att: 7,486

    Ref: K Clark


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