Celtic enter seven heaven but strikers still fire blanks

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The Independent Online

Towards the end of the first half, when Celtic were 2-0 up and should have been further ahead, an interruption in play allowed Gordon Strachan to have a word with Scott McDonald. "Like this," the manager appeared to be saying, thrusting his head through an imaginary ball. Teaching one of his main strikers how to convert a simple header is not what Strachan would expect to be necessary during a title run-in. Yet despite the 7-0 home win against St Mirren, it is. His forwards are firing blanks.

Remarkably, not one of Saturday's goals came from a striker. Shunsuke Nakamura (right) hit three and his fellow midfielders Scott Brown (twice) and Marc Crosas (once, with a long-range thunderer) also found the net. So did John Potter (own goal) of St Mirren, whose demise was assured from the 28th minute, when Jack Ross was sent off for a penalty offence. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's failure to convert the spot kick was far from his only wasteful piece of play. The Dutchman should have scored in the 10th minute and 45th minute but slack hesitancy then poor technique cost him. He should have scored in the 67th minute but his header was bad. He really, really should have converted from close-range after a peachy cross in the 74th minute to his feet.

It was as lame as Strachan's argument afterwards that: "If you look at the chances made when the two strikers were on, then you have to say that Scott and Jan were good." Celtic's strikers will next look for goals at Kilmarnock. If they can find the ground.

Goals: Nakamura (16) 1-0; Nakamura (35) 2-0; Crosas (51) 3-0; Brown (56) 4-0; Nakamura (58) 5-0; Brown (68) 6-0; Potter og (76) 7-0.

Celtic (4-4-2): Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor (O'Dea, 22); Nakamura, Brown, Crosas, McGeady; Vennegoor of Hesselink (Hutchinson, 77), McDonald (Samaras, 68). Substitutes not used: Fox (gk), Loovens, Hartley, Flood.

St Mirren (4-5-1): Smith; Ross, Potter, Haining, Camara; Thomson, Mason, Murray, Dorman, Brady; Mehmet (Dargo, 70). Substitutes not used: Howard (gk), Wyness, Hamilton, Barron, McGinn, Burns.

Referee: C Allan.

Booked: Celtic O'Dea; St Mirren Thomson, Murray.

Sent off: St Mirren Ross (28).

Man of the match: Nakamura.

Attendance: 58,286.

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