Two stunning strikes from Kris Commons helped Celtic to a 2-0 win over Hamilton that extends their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to eight points.
The Hoops appeared to be suffering from a hangover from their midweek Old Firm win in the first half with a below-par performance until a superb 20-yard shot from Commons gave them the lead in the 42nd minute. The Scotland international was gifted a second just seven minutes after the break when he took advantage of a slack backpass from David Elebert to slam home from just inside the box.
The win piles the pressure on rivals Rangers, who are away to St Mirren tomorrow. Celtic made two changes from their midweek win as Anthony Stokes replaced the injured Gary Hooper while Fraser Forster returned from suspension. Neil Lennon, who was starting the first of his four-match touchline ban, had barely taken his seat in the stand when Celtic had carved out their first chance. Scott Brown sent a dangerous ball into the box and Simon Mensing almost sliced his attempted clearance into his own net.
However, Celtic failed to build on their early pressure and it was Hamilton who came close to taking the lead when Elebert headed Flavio Paixao's corner inches over at the near post. Just when it looked like the SPL's bottom side would get to the break on level terms, Celtic took the lead through a sensational strike from Commons.
Ki Sung-Yeung's corner was headed clear to Brown at the edge of the box and the Celtic captain laid the ball off to the Scotland international, whose left-foot half-volley swerved into the top corner from 20 yards. The Hoops nearly added to their lead a minute later but Tomas Cerny instinctively saved Samaras' downward header with his feet. Commons was Celtic's biggest threat going forward and Dougie Imrie did well to block his shot just after the break as he raced into the Hamilton box.
However, the former Derby County man did not have long to wait for his second of the game when he was gifted a goal by Hamilton in the 53rd minute. After dealing with the threat of Samaras down the left wing, Elebert causally rolled a backpass across his own box into the path of Commons, who curled into it the top corner from 15 yards. Commons went off to a standing ovation with six minutes remaining to be replaced by Paddy McCourt as the Hoops strolled to victory.
Elsewhere, Inverness ran out 3-0 winners over Motherwell and St Johnstone held Hibernian to a 1-1 draw at McDiarmid Park. In the battle of third versus fourth at Tynecastle, ten-man Kilmarnock reduced the gap to Hearts with a 2-0 win. David Silva scored the first and Alexei Eremenko added a second before seeing red for his part in an off-the-ball altercation with Marius Zaliukas.