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Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Celtic 7-0 St Mirren

By Martin Conaghan

Celtic celebrate
Scott Brown and Shunsuke Nakamura scored five goals between them

A Shunsuke Nakamura hat-trick helped Celtic ease to victory over 10-man St Mirren in the Scottish Premier League.

Keeper Chris Smith allowed a Nakamura drive through his grasp for the opener before Jack Ross was sent off for a foul on Scott McDonald in the box.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink missed the penalty, but a neat finish by Nakamura and two from Scott Brown followed.

Marc Crosas' stunning volley, a curling Nakamura free-kick and a John Potter own goal ended the rout of the Saints.

Victory kept the reigning champions equal on points with leaders Rangers but reduced the Ibrox side's goal-difference advantage to four.

After six minutes played, Andreas Hinkel crossed from wide on the right after good work by Nakamura, but Smith parried wide.

Garry Brady replied immediately at the other end but watched his close-range effort sail over the bar.

Andy Dorman set up a golden opportunity after a pacey Saints attack but was thwarted by Celtic captain Stephen McManus.

The first goal of the afternoon arrived from the boot of Nakamura in the 16th minute after the Japanese midfielder blasted in a left-footed shot from 22 yards out and Smith let the ball slip over his head into the net.

McDonald steered a 23rd minute header wide of the mark after Hinkel had crossed in from the corner flag.

Ross was sent off as the half-hour mark approached for a challenge on McDonald in the St Mirren penalty area, but Vennegoor of Hesselink fired the resulting penalty kick straight at Smith and failed to capitalise on the re-bound.

With 10 minutes of the first half left to play, Nakamura doubled Celtic's tally with a low drive after Hinkel released the ball on the edge of the St Mirren penalty area.

On the stroke of half-time, Vennegoor of Hesselink sent in a bold over-head kick that Smith smothered, then Gary Caldwell hit the bar as the home side sought to increase their goal tally.

Following the re-start, McDonald pounced on a downward header from Vennegoor of Hesselink but blasted his volley over the bar.

Less than five minutes later, Crosas produced a stunning goal from 20 yards out to increase Celtic's lead after Aiden McGeady had worked the ball in from the left.

The former Barcelona midfielder sent in a right-footed shot from the edge of the St Mirren box that swerved its way past a stranded Smith.

The one-way traffic continued with two powerful efforts in succession from McGeady that Smith parried round each post.

In the 55th minute, Brown made it four for Celtic, completing a well-worked move down the left to strike the ball through the legs of a hapless Smith.

Just two minutes later, Nakamura sealed his hat-trick when he delivered a trademark free-kick from wide on the right following a rash challenge by Hugh Murray and curved the ball around the St Mirren wall to extend Celtic's tally to five.

The onslaught continued with Hinkel coming close in the 62nd minute and a Potter header at the other end straying wide of the target.

Brown grabbed his second of the afternoon in the 68th minute after Crosas released him to power forward unchallenged and strike low into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

St Mirren's misery was complete when Potter guided a cross into his own net with 14 minutes to play as he attempted to head clear a close-range effort from Vennegoor of Hesselink.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:

"I enjoyed it today. It started off at a good pace and we moved the ball well.

"We got our midfielders into good areas and caused them a bit of problems.

"Obviously, when they went down to 10 men, it caused problems for St Mirren and we got more space than we would normally get against them."

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:

"It's always difficult when you come to Celtic Park, but when you go down to 10 men, it makes it doubly harder.

"To lose a full-back with the experience of Jack Ross, who is probably our most consistent player this season - and a defender coming to Parkhead, makes it very difficult for us.

"We'll look at the goals again, because I think quite a few of them were individual mistakes - especially the first one."

Celtic : Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor (O'Dea 21), Nakamura, Crosas, Scott Brown, McGeady, McDonald (Samaras 69), Vennegoor of Hesselink (Hutchinson 77). Subs Not Used: Fox, Loovens, Hartley, Flood.

Booked : O'Dea.

Goals : Nakamura 16, 35, Crosas 51, Scott Brown 55, Nakamura 58, Scott Brown 68, Potter 76 og.

St Mirren : Smith, Ross, Potter, Haining, Camara, Murray (McGinn 60), Dorman (Barron 53), Mason, Brady, Thomson, Mehmet (Dargo 70).

Subs Not Used : Howard, Wyness, Hamilton, Burns.

Sent Off : Ross (28).

Booked : Thomson, Murray.

Att : 58,286

Ref : C Allan

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match : Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura 9.73 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
28 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
28 Feb 09 |  Scotland

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