Seven-up Celtic find their fizz
Celtic 7 St Mirren 0: Nakamura hat-trick helps Bhoys reduce goal difference on leaders Rangers as Strachan ends up feeling sorry for Saints
Sunday 01 March 2009
Celtic's biggest victory at home in the SPL since Gordon Strachan took over as manager in 2005 propelled them back towards parity in the title race yesterday as they crushed 10-man St Mirren 7-0, writes Nick Harris.
Rangers had taken a three-point lead with a 1-0 lunchtime win at Hamilton, courtesy of a Barry Ferguson goal – that left Rangers with a goal difference superiority of 11. But once St Mirren had Jack Ross sent off in the first half, when already 1-0 down, the only question was how many goals Celtic would win by. Shunsuke Nakamura scored three times, Scott Brown twice, Marc Crosas once and Celtic's seventh was a gifted own goal off the head of John Potter.
Celtic have struggled to find the net in recent weeks, and none of the three strikers used yesterday – Scott McDonald, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras – managed to score, wasting a lot of chances between them. But Strachan insisted he was unconcerned by that. "It's not going to bother me tonight," he said. He agreed that the sending off changed the nature of the game. "When it went to 10 men and then the second goal went in, I felt sorry for St Mirren," he said. "I just wanted to win. To score a couple would have been good. To score seven was a bonus."€�
Elsewhere in the SPL, there were goalless draws between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock and Hibernian and Falkirk, while Hearts won 1-0 at Dundee United and Motherwell won at Terry Butcher's Inverness 2-1.
Rangers' win at Hamilton was marred when their veteran defender, David Weir, was hit by a coin towards the end. He was not injured. The incident went unnoticed by referee Craig Thomson and fourth official Willie Collum but Hamilton have said they will find the culprit.
Safety officer Tom Purdie said: "It was a five-pence coin and we will carry out our own internal investigation. Neither the referee nor the fourth official spotted it and Rangers aren't making an issue out of it.
"The police came over to try and ascertain where it came from but it could have come from anywhere. Hopefully the CCTV cameras will pick something up when we go back through it. When we find the culprit I will report it to the police."
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