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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 21:40 GMT
Celtic hit back at Livi
Henrik Larsson grabbed his 25th goal of the season
Livingston 1-3 Celtic

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Celtic continued on their relentless march towards the defence of their SPL crown with a win at Almondvale, but they were given an early scare by Livingston.

The home side took a fourth minute lead through a sizzling strike from Francisco Quino and had the champions pinned back for the long spells in the first half.

However, Celtic found their form in the second period and goals from Lubo Moravcik, Henrik Larsson and John Hartson saw them fight back in fine style.

The victory extends Celtic's lead over nearest challengers Rangers, who were held at Kilmarnock, to a massive 15 points.

The visitors were forced to make one change with Alan Thompson suspended, but in came winger Bobby Petta while defender Johan Mjallby passed a late fitness test.

Livingston made one change from the team which crashed out of the Scottish Cup to Aberdeen over the weekend with Marvin Andrews replacing Philippe Brinquin in defence.

Steve Tosh and Stilian Petrov challenge
The home side made a lively start to the game and took a surprise early lead after just four minutes through a breathtaking 25-yard strike from Quino.

The ball broke to the Spaniard and he unleashed a stunning right-foot volley which flew past goalkeeper Robert Douglas and in off the underside of the bar for his fifth goal of the season.

That stung the visitors into life and they carved out a good chance in the 13th minute but Stilian Petrov failed to connect with a clever Henrik Larsson cutback in front of goal.

Livingston looked dangerous every time they went forward on the break and only a great save from Douglas denied Barry Wilson's long ranges trike in the 21st minute.

Moments later Celtic manager Martin O'Neill was forced to make a substitution after Jackie McNamara pulled up, to be replaced by Moravcik.

The Slovakian's introduction sparked more urgency from the visitors and they created two good opportunities in the space of two minutes soon after.

John Hartson dragged his left foot effort well past after good work from Petta then Petrov had a goalbound shot blocked by his own team-mate Mjallby.

Livingston also had to make a change with Nathan Lowndes coming on for the injured Wilson.

Larsson was on target once again
Larsson grapples with Andrews
Celtic had the ball in the net 10 minutes after the re-start but the linesman was flagging for offside before Joos Valgaeren bundled Hartson's headed pass over the line.

However, Celtic fans did not have long to wait before their favourites were on level terms.

With 57 minutes on the clock, Moravcik engineered some space for himself 20 yards out and unleashed a dipping shot which Nick Culkin let bounce in front of him and into the Livi net.

Three minutes later, Celtic were in front when Larsson pounced in the penalty area for his 25th goal of the season after Hartson had failed to connect with substitute Jamie Smith's cross.

The league leaders put the game beyond the home side after 72 minutes when Hartson slipped the ball past Culkin to complete a great second half comeback.

The Welshman nearly claimed another goal soon after when his diving header shaved the base of the post.

Livingston: Culkin, Hart, Anderson, Rubio, Andrews, Bollan, Quino, Tosh, Fernandez, Wilson (Lowndes 31), Bingham (Brittain 81).

Subs Not Used: McEwan, Makel, Santini.

Booked: Tosh, Fernandez, Anderson.

Celtic: Douglas, McNamara (Moravcik 22), Valgaeren, Balde, Lambert, Petta (Guppy 86), Lennon, Petrov (Smith 56), Mjallby, Larsson, Hartson.

Subs Not Used: Gould, Maloney.

Booked: Valgaeren.

Attendance: 8,437

Referee: D McDonald


BBC Sport's Andy Gilles
"Celtic have developed a ruthless streak"
Livingston manager Jim Leishman
"Celtic put us under so much pressure."
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"These are high quality players who are very hungry."
Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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