Hamilton Academical 1-4 Celtic: Champions seven clear after late goals
Celtic moved seven points clear in the Scottish Premiership after scoring three times in the final 12 minutes to beat 10-man Hamilton Academical.
Marios Ogkmpoe gave the hosts a shock lead as Celtic attempted to capitalise on Rangers' draw with Aberdeen.
However, Jamie Hamilton's red card changed the game, with Odsonne Edouard levelling from the resulting free-kick.
Accies defended bravely but late goals from Christopher Jullien, Edouard and James Forrest left them bottom.
Head coach Brian Rice, serving the first game of his touchline ban for gambling breaches, watched from the stand as defeat leaves his side behind 11th-place Hearts on goal difference.
Celtic, though, have now won 10 consecutive domestic matches away from Celtic Park and have cleaved open a significant lead at the summit, albeit having played a game more.
Scoreline harsh on Hamilton
Celtic were far from their slick best but, once they got back on level terms in the pivotal moment of the match, they were always likely to ease clear of a hitherto impressive Accies side.
No-one impressed more in the opening half-hour than the goalscorer Ogkmpoe, who had already caused Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer significant problems and forced Fraser Forster into a good save before finding the net.
Scott McMann skinned Forrest down the left to win a corner, which Blair Alston flighted in, and Ogkmpoe beat Jullien to it to head past Forster at the near post.
It was only Ogkmpoe's second league goal of the season, both of them against Celtic.
The lead did not flatter Accies but things turned against them in the space of 90 seconds.
Leigh Griffiths, who had earlier escaped with a yellow card when treading on Sam Woods' chest, got goal-side of 17-year-old Hamilton and then tumbled as the defender desperately tried to recover the situation, wrapping his arms around the striker.
Referee Nick Walsh produced the red card for Hamilton and, to compound Accies' misery, Edouard swept the free-kick over the wall and past Luke Southwood from the edge of the box.
From that point onwards, the one-way traffic towards the Accies goal was relentless. The home side's defending, though, was immense.
Shaun Want blocked brilliantly from Edouard to deny the Frenchman from point-blank range.
Griffiths forced a fingertip save from Southwood, the keeper touching the free-kick on to the bar, and Accies survived two penalty claims – Walsh correctly deciding Aaron McGowan's handballs were not deliberate.
The introduction of Ryan Christie proved key. It was his inch-perfect delivery from the left that found Jullien, who still had plenty to do but his deft volley was sublime and flashed past Southwood.
And shortly afterwards Edouard buried Accies by powering forward, exchanging passes with Tom Rogic, and sliding the ball into the net.
Forrest's injury-time strike – set up by Edouard – put a gloss on the scoreline that was harsh on Accies and flattering to Celtic.
But this was another massive win for the champions. Great credit to Accies but they stay bottom as Celtic move further clear.
Man of the match – Odsonne Edouard
Ogkmpoe's first-half display deserves a further mention, as does Alex Gogic's defensive performance almost throughout.
But ultimately Edouard's thoroughbred status was reaffirmed with his goals and assist for Forrest. Even a glaring miss for a hat-trick could not take the shine off.
‘We need to go into survival mode' – reaction
Hamilton assistant Guillaume Beuzelin: “Again we have zero points, but for 75 minutes we competed well. It's harsh but there are positives for us too.
“The red card is a bit harsh but I can see why it's given. Before, there was an incident when we clearly saw a stamp on one of our players. Maybe the referee could not see properly.
“Now were are bottom of the league, we need to go into survival mode. We've done it for five years. We know what to do.”
Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “We had to be patient. We had to be concentrated. Hamilton defended for their lives and you need to give them credit for that.
“The three points are massive for us, under the circumstances. It opens up a nice gap.”
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