Celtic stay eight points clear at winter break with win over St Mirren

The league leaders make it four wins in a row to stay eight points ahead at the top.

Celtic stay eight points clear going into winter break with win over ten-man St Mirren SNS Group

Celtic will go into the winter break eight points clear at the top of the Premiership following a comfortable win over St Mirren in their first game of 2024.

The league leaders continued their recent good form as they made it four wins on the spin to put their mid-December blip behind them.

Daizen Maeda put the Hoops in front just after kick-off before Matt O’Riley made it 2-0 minutes later to give Brendan Rodgers’s side a commanding lead in Paisley on Tuesday night.

Already facing an uphill task from then St Mirren’s task became even more difficult when they were reduced to ten-men in first-half injury time.

Greg Taylor then made it 3-0 in the second half as the champions secured all three points.

Celtic went into the game on the back of a 2-1 win over Rangers in Parkhead on Saturday with St Mirren also ending 2023 on a high with victory over Aberdeen

The gap at the top of the league at kick-off was five points following Philippe Clement’s side’s 3-1 defeat of Kilmarnock in the earlier kick-off.

But the eight point lead was restored, with second placed Rangers having two games in hand, with St Mirren going into the break in fifth place.

Maeda celebrated his recent call-up to the Japan national team squad for the upcoming Asian Cup with a goal within the first minute of the match.

The winger latched on to a through ball from O’Riley before slotting it past Zach Hemming to give Celtic an early lead and score the Hoops first goal of a calendar year for the third year running.

The lead was doubled soon after when O’Riley marked his 100th game for the Hoops when he finished off a good move to make it 2-0 in the sixth minute.

St Mirren were then reduced to ten-men just before half-time when Olyusanya was shown a red-card for a kick on Joe Hart after a VAR review.

The referee was called over to the VAR monitor before upgrading an initial yellow card to a red.

Despite being a man down St Mirren remained competitive and put a bit of pressure on the Celtic defence at the start of the second-half.

Paolo Bernardo came close to getting his third goal in as many games when he forced a good save from Hemming on the hour-mark.

And the game was put beyond doubt through an unlikely source when Taylor made it 3-0 from close range.

Bernardo turned provider when he chipped the ball through to the left-back who charged into the box and put the ball in the net to all but secure the three points.

Reo Hatate then made his long-awaited return from injury when he was introduced into the action with 20 minutes remaining.

Hemming done well with a double save to keep out Hyeongyu Oh and then Yang from close range before Liam Scales hit the post as Celtic looked to add to their lead.

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