Celtic jumped a point clear at the top of the table as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over St. Mirren, thanks to an Oliver Burke double sandwiched by strikes from Scott Sinclair and Timothy Weah.
The hosts began the game with some rather slow, pedestrian passes until Burke’s debut goal set the tone on a bitterly cold night at Celtic Park.
Ryan Christie floated in a free-kick from the right and Burke rose highest in the box to nod the ball downwards and eventually into the net past a struggling Vaclav Hladky in the Saints goal.
Minutes later, Celtic doubled their lead. Sinclair’s magical feet saw him taken out inside the box with the referee pointing to the stop with very few complaints from the visitors. The Englishman grabbed the ball to fire home his 12th goal of the campaign, showing great confidence after his miss against Airdrie at the weekend.
Callum McGregor really should have made it three before half time after some neat play from Burke but the Scot blazed his shot well over the bar.
New signing Vakoun Issouf Bayo was paraded at half time under the lights but that didn’t upset make-shift striker Burke’s confidence after the break.
A ball in behind saw James Forrest draw a great save from the ‘keeper before McGregor once again fluffed his lines but the aforementioned Burke was on hand to drill the ball low into an empty net for 3-0.
Another new recruit, Weah joined the party and very nearly found his second goal for the Hoops as he ran in clear but saw his shot trickle inches wide of the far post.
The American wasn’t to be stopped though as five minutes from time he did grab his second goal and Celtic’s fourth of the evening after a brilliant run was picked out by youngster Ewan Henderson and Weah rolled the ball into the net beyond the ‘keeper’s near post.
Here’s how we rated the players after Wednesday’s win.
Scott Bain: 6
A very quiet evening for Bain saw him collect another clean sheet.
Mikael Lustig: 6
No major dramas for the Swede in a comfortable performance. Defended well enough and joined the attack when needed.
Kristoffer Ajer: 6
Good return to the team for Ajer who had very little to deal with.
Filip Benkovic: 6
Looked comfortable as always, however, he was booked for a pretty rash challenge on Simeon Jackson after he was caught out of position.
Emilio Izaguirre: 6
Pretty easy night for the Honduran who linked up well with Sinclair down the left.
Scott Brown: 7
Strolled it. Sat in front of the defence to control proceedings and won just about everything that came his way.
Callum McGregor: 6
Moved the ball around the park well but on a better day, he would have had two goals.
Hit one way over the bar from inside the box early on and allowed the goalie to make a save with the goal at his mercy in the second half.
Ryan Christie: 7
Showed terrific energy to press St. Mirren and not let them out and he kept making good forward runs to mix things up.
Grabbed the assist for the opener and nearly set Sinclair up with a brave header after the break.
Was subbed off to allow Ewan Henderson some game time.
James Forrest: 6
Had a good battle with his opposite number Ethan Erhahon and produced some decent runs and crosses into the box.
A great save from Hladky stopped him getting another goal this season.
Scott Sinclair: 7
A fine outing for the Englishman who was bright out on the left flank throughout.
Some great skill and quick feet won the penalty which he duly dispatched. He looked far more confident in the game.
Oliver Burke: 8
Man of the Match display from Burke who sealed his first goals for the Hoops. His first touch was excellent and he was prepared to drop deep for the ball and make runs behind the Saints defence who struggled to deal with him.
(Sub) Timothy Weah: 7
Made a great impact off the bench for a second time this week. A great finish followed a shot that was a whisker away from nestling in the net.
(Sub) Ewan Henderson: 6
Good to see the academy player getting some time in the first team. Came on for Christie with 20 minutes remaining and rolled in Weah for the fourth goal.