Nakamura hat-trick helps Celtic run riot

Celtic 7 St Mirren 0
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The Independent Football

This good old-fashioned tonking, with Shunsuke Nakamura's hat-trick just one of the talking points, has done wonders for the winners' goal difference, which could yet prove crucial in the title race.

Rangers' lunchtime win at Hamilton had put them three points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League, and with a better goal difference by a factor of 11. But this rout dragged Celtic back to parity in points terms, and closes the goal difference to a mere four. So far, so good for the Hoops and their fans.

But it could have been – "should have been" more. It really should. If Celtic had taken full, clinical advantage of every good sight of goal they would have led 9-0 at the end of the first 45 minutes alone and been in the teens by full-time. And the rout only really got underway after St Mirren had been reduced to 10 men before half an hour had been played.

Still, resounding victories are rare enough that you will not find many Celtic fans complaining this morning. And if goals can breed confidence, the run-in could yet be a cracker.

Nakamura's opener, in the 16th minute, came from a 20-yard shot that Chris Smith stopped only to fumble it through his hands into the net. St Mirren were then reduced to 10 men when Jack Ross was sent off for bringing down Celtic's Australian forward Scott McDonald.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink took the resultant penalty but it was saved; that was just one of nine wasted chances for Vennegoor of Hesselink and McDonald combined, while Aiden McGeady also went close without scoring.

Nakamura gave Celtic a 2-0 half-time lead with a low shot in the 35th minute, and completed his hat-trick just before the hour with a 25-yard free kick curled straight into the net.

That made it 5-0: the Spanish midfielder Marc Crosas scored the third goal with a 35-yard screamer, and Scott Brown got the fourth with a poked effort following a goalmouth scramble.

Brown made it six after a run down the right and a low finish, and John Potter's headed own goal compounded Saints' misery.