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Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 15:57 UK

Inverness CT 1-2 Celtic

By Thomas McGuigan

Scott Brown
Scott Brown settled Celtic's nerves with a goal just after half-time

Scott Brown scored his first league goal since December as Celtic moved three points clear at the top of the table with victory over Inverness.

Goalkeeper Artur Boruc denied Dougie Imrie and Garry Wood in a first half dominated by the hosts.

But Celtic sparked into life after the break and took the lead when Brown converted Lee Naylor's low cross.

Glenn Loovens headed home Celtic's second before Wood scored from close range to set up a tense finish.

There was a minute's applause before the match in memory of the Dundee United chairman Eddie Thompson, who died last week.

Both sides were without their leading goalscorers, with Andy Barrowman and Georgios Samaras missing through injury.

Loovens was a surprise inclusion for Celtic at right-back ahead of Mark Wilson, while Shunsuke Nakamura had to settle for a place on the bench, with Marc Crosas getting a start in the centre of midfield.

Inverness midfielder Don Cowie had the first real effort on goal after 11 minutes, but his shot from the edge of the area spun off Naylor and behind for a corner.

Richard Hastings then panicked when given space in the Celtic box and shot wide as the hosts pressed for the opener.

Aiden McGeady forced goalkeeper Michael Fraser into a save low to his right seven minutes later in Celtic's first tangible effort.


Imrie was inches away from the opening goal after 33 minutes when Boruc brilliantly tipped his 20-yard free-kick over the bar.

The Polish international denied Wood moments later after the midfielder collected Cowie's beautiful cross and fired in a shot from close range.

But Boruc blocked with his left foot and the danger was cleared.

Celtic took the lead three minutes after the break when Naylor's low cross was steered home by Brown, low to Fraser's right.

The visitors doubled their lead with 25 minutes remaining with a goal of stunning simplicity.

Robson collected the ball wide on the right and his cross was headed powerfully home by Loovens at the back post.

Wood deservedly brought Inverness back into the game after 70 minutes when Ross Tokely's cross was headed towards goal by Adam Rooney, and the midfielder followed up to score.

The hosts pressed for an equaliser as Celtic's defence looked far from convincing, after Loovens moved to the centre of defence, when Gary Caldwell was taken off injured. But they lacked a cutting edge up front to secure a point.

Celtic substitute Cillian Sheridan spurned a great chance to grab a third when he shot straight at Fraser.

Inverness CT manager Craig Brewster:
"I thought we were excellent in the first half. I just thought we were slow to react at the start of the second half. We didn't close Celtic players down quick enough and then we lose the goal by doing that.

"Then we lost a goal from a cross that we didn't deal with - great header from the boy (Glenn Loovens) but we've got to do better than that. Apart from that I thought we did really well.

"Garry Wood had a great chance, nice interchange between him and Cowie, but Boruc has done well with his foot. You don't get many good chances like that against Celtic.

"We had lots of near things in and around their box and I just told the boys at the end that they deserved a lot of credit for the way they played but it was just that 10 minutes at the start of the second half when we were slow to respond."

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"It was a poor game. The first half wasn't very good. The second half improved to average.

"But when did you see a real good Celtic-Inverness game here? I've not seen one yet. I've seen exciting finishes, strange goals, silly tackles, sendings off, near sendings off. I've seen everything but good football.

"Why? There's some mysteries in this world that can't be solved. We've just got to deal with them.

"The reason we started with one up front is obvious - we've lost three terrific strikers. The guy we've got playing up front (Scott McDonald) got off a plane last night, so it's not easy to travel round the world and then play right away. He wouldn't have played if we had our other strikers fit."

Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, McGuire (Duff 54), Munro, Hastings, Cowie, Duncan, Black (Rooney 66), Imrie, McBain (Wilson 75), Wood. Subs Not Used: Esson, Djebi-Zadi, Sutherland, Vigurs.

Booked: Black, Imrie, Tokely.

Goals: Wood 69.

Celtic: Boruc, Caldwell (Wilson 64), McManus, Loovens, Naylor, McGeady, Scott Brown, Crosas (Hartley 90), Robson, McDonald (Sheridan 64), Maloney. Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, McCourt, Nakamura, O'Dea.

Booked: Crosas, Scott Brown, McGeady.

Goals: Scott Brown 48, Loovens 65.

Att: 7,143

Ref: I Brines

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