AN away game played in high winds and pouring rain on an artificial pitch against opponents who are fighting for their Premiership survival was a potentially awkward fixture for Celtic to negotiate.

With Hamilton keeper Kyle Gourlay producing a string of exceptional saves at the at the FOY Stadium on Boxing Day and ensuring his team was level, the pressure was well and truly on the visitors at half-time.

But second-half goals from Odsonne Edouard, Leigh Griffiths and David Turnbull ensured that Neil Lennon’s team won comfortably.

The 3-0 victory reduced the lead that Rangers, who had defeated Hibernian 1-0 at Ibrox earlier, held at the top of the league table to 16 points once again and extended their winning run to five matches.

The quadruple treble winners still have an awful lot of work to do if they are to complete 10-In-A-Row in the 2020/21 campaign even if they do have three games in hand to play.

But there was much for Lennon to be encouraged by at the weekend ahead of a massive week for both him personally and for Celtic. So what did we learn from events in Lanarkshire?


The French striker’s commitment to the Celtic cause has been questioned this season and with good reason. His form up front has been erratic. On occasion, he has appeared disinterested.

It has been suggested that being denied a lucrative move to a bigger league by the Covid-19 outbreak has been responsible for a change in attitude from the forward.

But nobody could criticise Edouard’s display at the weekend. He scored the visitors’ opener, set up their second with a cute back heel and had a hand in their third. His effort was exemplary and his ability outstanding.

The 22-year-old, who spent most of October out after testing positive for Covid-19 on international duty with the France Under-21 side, is returning to peak fitness and form at the perfect time for his manager.

His penalty on Saturday took his tally for the 2020/21 campaign to 11. He will, if injury-free and available, be one of the first names down on the Celtic team sheet at Ibrox on Saturday.


The Scotland striker was denied the opening goal on no fewer than four occasions in the first-half by Hamilton goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay.

He finally got his name on the scoresheet, though, early in the second when Gourlay allowed his powerful long-range effort to squirm under his body. It was his third strike in as many games. He is looking stronger and sharper with every match.

Griffiths and Edouard clearly enjoy playing up front together and they complement each other perfectly. Will Lennon be prepared to field a two man front line against Rangers at Ibrox? It will be an attacking formation if he does. But he could be sorely tempted.


If Celtic can overcome Dundee United at Parkhead on Wednesday afternoon they will go into the second Old Firm game of the season on the back of a six game winning run and with confidence high.

The standard of their all-round play at the weekend was as pleasing for Lennon as the final result. The problems which saw them fall behind in the Premiership and crash out of both the Betfred Cup and Europa League appear to slowly but surely being addressed.

Work remains to be done. They weren’t tested defensively in their matches against Ross County or Hamilton last week. What is their strongest back line? It is unclear. Will Shane Duffy and Christopher Jullien come back in? It is anybody’s guess. Still, they are in a far, far better place than they were at the start of the month.


The strength of the bench often shows just how good a side is and on Saturday Lennon was able to do without Mohamed Elyounoussi, Shane Duffy, Diego Laxalt, Mikey Johnston, Tom Rogic, Scott Brown, Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala.

He has missed key men due to injury and Covid-19 in the first half of the season and his side’s performances and results have suffered as a consequence. But with that sort of back-up at his disposal now he can look to 2021 with considerable optimism.

That said, wins over Dundee United and Rangers in the coming days remain vital if Celtic are to resurrect their Premiership aspirations.


Losing the three points they were awarded by the SPFL earlier this month when St Mirren were found to have breached coronavirus protocols was hardly the ideal preparation for this match against Celtic for Hamilton.

Brian Rice was missing a raft of important players as it was. Still, the home side defended well for long periods and were aggrieved to have a soft penalty awarded against them early in the second-half.

They failed to trouble the Celtic goal during the course of the 90 minutes, but can take confidence from many aspects of their play.

Hamilton will go into an important Premiership game against St Johnstone in Perth on Wednesday night confident they can triumph.