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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 16:48 UK

Celtic 4-0 Hamilton Accies

By Thomas McGuigan

Georgios Samaras fires in his second goal
Georgios Samaras fired a double as Celtic cruised to victory

Celtic extended their lead at the top of the table to six points with a comprehensive win over Hamilton Accies.

Georgios Samaras opened the scoring in five minutes with a cool finish after clever play by Andreas Hinkel.

Aiden McGeady doubled their lead after collecting Shunsuke Nakamura's superb pass in the 22nd minute.

Mark McLaughlin hit the bar with a header for Hamilton before Samaras grabbed his second and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink completed the rout.

Celtic started the game aiming to extend their lead over Rangers, who are not in action until Sunday when they visit Falkirk.

So it was surprising to see so many empty seats within Celtic Park at such a crucial stage in the SPL title race.

Nevertheless, the hosts showed menace from the first whistle and McGeady's impressive run narrowly failed to bring the opener after his cross was cleared.

But Hamilton conceded the opening goal moments later when Hinkel played a beautiful reverse pass into the path of Samaras.

The Greek international evaded Martin Canning's lunging tackle to flick the ball past the advancing Sean Murdoch into the net for his 15th goal of the season.

McGeady then fizzed a low shot just wide of Murdoch's left-hand post in the 19th minute as Celtic looked to turn the screw.

They doubled their lead three minutes later with a goal out of nothing.

With a sea of yellow jerseys between him and the Hamilton goal, Nakamura arrowed an inch-perfect pass into the path of McGeady.

The Republic of Ireland international gathered and sent a low shot inside the far post past the helpless Murdoch.

Aiden McGeady beats Sean Murdoch to double Celtic's lead
Aiden McGeady doubled Celtic's lead with a cool finish

Joel Thomas looked to reduce the deficit in the 25th minute, but his shot was deflected wide by Stephen McManus and Accies failed to profit from the corner.

Murdoch denied Celtic a third when he blocked McGeady's shot after he was sent clear on goal following another defence-splitting Nakamura pass.

Celtic started the second half in similar fashion to the first and Scott McDonald should have scored but his three-yard shot was blocked on the line by McLaughlin.

Moments later Thomas was denied a goal for Hamilton when his header was brilliantly clawed away by Artur Boruc after McLaughlin had sent a delicious cross into the box.

Samaras scored Celtic's third after 66 minutes when he collected Hinkel's lofted pass, stepped inside McLaughlin's challenge and sent a shot into the far corner of the net.

McLaughlin then watched his header cannon back off the bar from James Gibson's corner to sum up Accies' afternoon.

Substitute Vennegoor of Hesselink sealed Celtic's win with their fourth goal from close range seven minutes from time, after a surging run and cross from the impressive Hinkel.

Hamilton striker Thomas enraged his team-mates when he blazed high over the bar from the edge of the area deep into injury-time when he had support out wide.

Celtic were handsomely rewarded for their most impressive performance in recent weeks while Hamilton - who have gone five games without scoring - will be disappointed they failed to carry a greater goal threat.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan: "Hamilton have had two weeks to prepare for this and we got our guys back this morning.

"We really stepped it up today and where we got the drive from I just don't know. That was a better display than the 7-0 win over St Mirren here earlier this season.

"Aiden and Crosas were good and the centre halves did exactly what we expected of them. So, it was good all round."

Hamilton manager Billy Reid: "Celtic are top of the table and have scored four goals. But the first goal was a bit of a catastrophe for us.

"No complaints; we've played a young side here and fielded seven players under the age of 21.

"Six of the players who started came through our academy. So today was a bit of an education for them."

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, O'Dea, Nakamura (Mizuno 70), Scott Brown, Crosas, McGeady (McCourt 79), Samaras, McDonald (Vennegoor of Hesselink 71).

Subs Not Used: Fox, Wilson, Loovens, Ferry.

Goals: Samaras 5, McGeady 22, Samaras 66, Vennegoor of Hesselink 83.

Hamilton: Murdoch, Gibson, McLaughlin, Canning, Easton, Neil, McCarthy, McArthur, Evans (McClenahan 75), Mills (Asamoah 67), Thomas.

Subs Not Used: Potter, Deuchar, Swailes, Lyle, Quinn.

Booked: McArthur.

Att: 58,961

Ref: B Winter

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see also
SPL photo gallery
04 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL as it happened
04 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier

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