Monday 18 December 2017

Deila insists dropped Stokes still has a future at Celtic

Celtic Hamilton

Celtics Kris Commons scores his first goal against Hamilton
Celtics Kris Commons scores his first goal against Hamilton
Celtics Stefan Johansen celebrates scoring their second goal against Hamilton

Roddy Forsyth

THEY took their time about it, but Celtic again opened a channel of clear water between themselves and Aberdeen with this emphatic victory over Hamilton, who created a sensation on their previous visit to Parkhead with their first victory at the stadium in 79 years.

Celtic were sluggish in the first half but could find no place for Anthony Stokes, who was dropped for the first leg of the Europa League tie with Inter Milan because he had added an extra day to a visit to Dublin.

He was omitted on this occasion because he had fallen short of standards according to Ronny Deila. "It was a football decision - that's 100pc the case," the Hoops manager said.

"Anthony has things he has to work on and he is very motivated to do that. We have a very strong squad and it's tough to play now. There are things we have been talking about for a long time and he has to step up."

Asked if Stokes still had a future at the club, Deila said: "Of course."

Remarkably, by half-time Hamilton could boast a significantly better defensive performance than Inter had achieved at the same stage of their visit on Thursday night.

However, more telling was that Hamilton did not hit a single attempt on target and recorded only a single shot of any kind.

Celtic, on the other hand teed themselves up in and around Michael McGovern's penalty box only to scoop or stroke their finishes straight at the goalkeeper.

The breakthrough was forced by Kris Commons after 57 minutes when he was released by Virgi Van Dijk for a left-foot shot which McGovern reached but could not stop. Midway through the second half a determined intervention by Nir Biton set Van Dijk free for a drive which McGovern beat out, but only as far as Stefan Johansen who slotted home.

It was now only a matter of how many Hamilton would concede and the third goal duly arrived when John Guidetti met a perfect cross from Emilio Izaguirre with a bullet header virtually on the goal-line. The Van Dijk-Commons combination was in evidence for Celtic's fourth, although Commons had competition for the finish from Stuart Armstrong, who had arrived as a substitute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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