IT was a stroll in the park for Celtic on Saturday lunchtime s they swept struggling Hamilton aside at a canter.

Here are five talking points from a perfect warm-up for Brendan Rodgers and his men ahead of their trip to face Rosenborg this week...


Seeing the success Livingston had at blunting the Celtic attack in their last match before the international break – albeit with the help of an inspired performance from goalkeeper Liam Kelly – Martin Canning set up his Hamilton side to try and frustrate the champions once more.

The Hamilton back five were set up to deny Celtic space, but they were so deep and conceded so much possession to the visitors that it was simply a matter of time before they were picked apart.

The Accies manager was disappointed with the simplicity of Celtic’s opening goal, but that failed to properly credit the inventive exchange between Odsonne Edouard and Callum McGregor that carved his side open to allow Ryan Christie to place the opener into the roof of the net.

When they are in the mood as they have been of late, there aren’t too many defences in the country that can live with them, and certainly not this Hamilton rearguard who had conceded 20 goals in the seven matches leading into this one.


The incredible goalscoring form of his teammate James Forrest for club and country of late has slightly overshadowed the growing influence of Christie in both the Hoops of Celtic and the dark blue of Scotland, but the midfielder displayed all of his new-found stature once again at Hamilton in a dominating display.

The 23-year-old has really come of age of late and no longer looks like a fringe player in this Celtic squad, displaying the confidence to grab matches by the scruff of the neck and consistently making telling contributions.

His goal on Saturday was his fourth in his last five league games, but even more impressive was his energy to get around the pitch and his overall quality when on the ball. His emergence as a key man in the Celtic midfield must make Brendan Rodgers feel as if he has signed a new player.


It is the problem that all managers love, but Rodgers may have some difficult choices to make for Thursday’s crunch Europa League match in Trondheim.

The fluidity of his side, particularly in the midfield area at present, means that he may be reluctant to make too many changes if any at all, but with Scott Brown close to a return and Tom Rogic also available once again, there are some big calls on the horizon for the Celtic manager. The question of whether even the club captain can dislodge the impeccable Callum McGregor from the deep-lying midfield position he has excelled in since Brown’s injury may be the biggest puzzler, but elsewhere on the field there are also people pushing for inclusion.

Leigh Griffiths marked his return to the side after his seven-week layoff through illness and injury with a goal, but over and above that, he looked as lean as he has for a long time and seems determined to provide a challenge to Odsonne Edouard for a starting slot. He may have to bide his time, but Celtic are beginning to flex their strength in depth in almost every department.


Ok, they may not have been tested significantly – or at all, actually – against Hamilton, but there is no denying that the Celtic backline has looked a lot stronger since a partnership between Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic was struck.

Celtic have now scored 16 goals without reply domestically since beating Hibs by four goals to two back in mid-October, and that record never looked under any significant threat in Lanarkshire as the two centre-halfs had the cigars out.

Of course, a sterner test may await on Thursday night, but Brendan Rodgers will be encouraged by the way his central pairing played in the victory over RB Leipzig in their last Europa League match at Celtic Park.

That is encouraging right-back Mikael Lustig too, with their recent defensive record in Trondheim also boding well.

It’s hard not to think that if Boyata and Benkovic had been in place in Athens back in the summer, Celtic might still be playing Champions League football.


Hamilton are the survival specialists, always seeming to find a way out of the relegation mire when it matters despite being written off every season.

There are worrying signs though this term in the manner of some of their defeats, following up their 4-0 thumping at St Johnstone with this insipid display.

Nothing much else was expected of them against Celtic, but even still, their performance was alarmingly flat.

The signs of life coming from St Mirren and Dundee, the only sides currently below Accies, will be concerning, and they now face a crucial double-header against those sides, with a visit to Paisley on Saturday followed by a home match against Dundee the following Wednesday.

They are hardly arriving at that critical juncture in their campaign in the finest fettle.