Scott Brown’s early double sets up Celtic cruise

Anthony Stokes also scores as champions move six points clear in Scotland

Celtic’s James Forrest scores his side’s second goal during the Scottish Premier League match  against St Mirren at Celtic Park. Photograph:  Danny Lawson/PA

Celtic’s James Forrest scores his side’s second goal during the Scottish Premier League match against St Mirren at Celtic Park. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

 

Celtic 4 St Mirren 1

Scott Brown scored an early double as Celtic moved six points clear in the Scottish Premiership with a dominant 4-1 victory over bottom club St Mirren.

Brown opened the scoring in the fourth minute and put Celtic 3-1 up inside 18 minutes after goals from Sean Kelly and James Forrest.

Saints had other chances in an eventful opening spell but Celtic took complete control after Brown’s second and it became a matter of how many they would score.

Despite creating numerous chances they only managed one more, with Anthony Stokes claiming the glory, and there was some concern for manager Ronny Deila as John Guidetti limped off in the second half while Forrest also failed to reappear after the interval.

St Mirren should have scored even earlier than Celtic but Kenny McLean took a fresh-air swipe when clean through on the edge of the box after John McGinn had nutmegged Efe Ambrose and curled a wonderful ball into his path.

Brown soon made no mistake from similar range after a Stokes cross was diverted into his path by Saints defender Marc McAusland.

McGinn quickly set up McLean again but the midfielder was offside as he finished from six yards, but the Paisley side levelled in the 10th minute.

McAusland turned McLean’s deep free-kick across the goalmouth and left back Kelly hooked in off the post.

Forrest had a decent long-range effort saved before he put Celtic back in front when he fired in off the post after good skill from Guidetti.

Forrest then turned provider, cutting in from the right before laying off to Brown, who curled the ball round a crowd of players and inside Marc Ridgers’s near post.

Celtic then bombarded the Saints defence before the break, notably from a series of corners.

Ridgers beat away Nir Bitton’s glancing header and Guidetti’s shot and Stefan Johansen missed another good opportunity before the Celtic fans were given the chance to salute former favourite Shunsuke Nakamura at half-time.

St Mirren, led by caretaker manager Gary Teale following Tommy Craig’s departure on Tuesday, looked a beaten team in the second half as Celtic cruised.

Stokes had a goal disallowed for offside before curling a free-kick inches wide after Guidetti had been hurt as he battled for the ball.

However the Irishman fired in off the post in the 67th minute after linking up well with Johansen, not for the first time in the game.

Guidetti’s replacement, Stefan Scepovic, missed a hat-trick of glorious chances to make the score even more emphatic.

The Serbian twice shot wide when played clean through and then turned Emilio Izaguirre’s cross off the inside of the post from close range and watched as it bounced to safety.

McGinn also fired just wide for St Mirren following a good run from Jason Naismith but the Paisley side look to be in need of an injection of confidence ahead of their meeting with fellow strugglers Motherwell on Saturday.

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