Celtic’s James Forrest sinks Hamilton thanks to Elyounoussi’s instant impact | Football
Mohamed Elyounoussi set up the only goal less than four minutes into his Celtic career as the champions consolidated their lead in the Premiership with a 1-0 win at Hamilton. The loan signing from Southampton sent in a low cross that James Forrest converted for his seventh goal in nine Celtic games.
The early goal was the only major incident in a completely one-sided opening period but Celtic’s failure to capitalise on their dominance allowed Hamilton to make a game of it after half-time. However, the hosts could not trouble Fraser Forster and Celtic survived a late scare for their fifth consecutive league win this season.
The former Molde and Basel winger Elyounoussi was handed the left-wing berth in the absence of the injured Mikey Johnston and he had a decent effort blocked before his assist.
Odsonne Édouard’s deft touch sent Elyounoussi ahead of the Hamilton defence and he drove in a left-foot cross that Forrest side-footed home from six yards.
The debutant was joined in the starting lineup by his Norway teammate Kristoffer Ajer, who recovered from a groin problem to replace the injured Nir Bitton in the only other change to the team that beat Rangers at Ibrox.
Celtic controlled the first half without regularly cutting through the packed defence, and Markus Fjørtoft was booked for pulling down Édouard when it looked like Celtic had broken through just before the break.
Forrest came close to a second just after the break when he worked space to shoot from 16 yards. Owain Fon Williams got a fingertip to the ball and it bounced off the underside of the crossbar and out.
Hamilton brought on Marios Ogkmpoe for George Oakley in the 53rd minute and the striker’s physical presence helped the hosts establish a foothold in the game, with Lewis Smith beginning to get on the ball and bring teammates into play.
After Hamilton forced a couple of set-pieces that came to nothing, Brian Rice changed formation by bringing on midfielder Adrian Beck for centre-back Fjørtoft and moving to a back four.
Blair Alston and Ogkmpoe soon burst through on the edge of the box but were off target with their shots.
Celtic had brought on Tom Rogic in place of Elyounoussi for the Australian’s first appearance of the season following a knee injury and Vakoun Bayo replaced Édouard as Neil Lennon tried to inject some life into his team.
Ryan Christie sent a first-time strike over from 20 yards and Bayo had a header saved as Celtic looked for a second but they had a close call deep into five minutes of stoppage time when Ogkmpoe was inches away from connecting with Scott McMann’s cross.
In the day’s later games, second-placed Rangers host third-placed Livingston, while St Johnstone, the bottom side, are at Aberdeen, in fourth. Struggling Hearts are at home to Motherwell, Hibernian are the visitors at Kilmarnock and Ross County host St Mirren.
This story will be updated