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Ireland international on target as Celtic prevail in top-of-the-table clash

Jonny Hayes scored against his former club, as the reigning champions went eight points clear.

Jonny Hayes (centre) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park.
Jonny Hayes (centre) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated at 17.43

CELTIC EARNED A convincing 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Parkhead today, as they continued this season’s largely excellent form.

Brendan Rodgers’ side saw their 69-match domestic unbeaten run come to an end after a heavy 4-0 defeat to Hearts last Sunday, but bounced back on Wednesday with a 2-0 defeat of Partick Thistle.

The reigning champions were similarly untroubled today, as they beat second-place Aberdeen to go eight points clear at the top.

Mikael Lustig, Ireland international Jonny Hayes and Olivier Ntcham were on target, as Celtic earned a comfortable win.

Lustig’s deflected shot gave Celtic a 40th minute lead before Hayes came back to haunt his former club as he added a second in the 69th minute at Parkhead.

Ntcham then took advantage of a mistake to seal victory in the 75th minute.

Despite having already dropped more points than in the whole of last season, the champions could still have a double-digit lead at the top going into the winter break with games against Dundee and Rangers next week.

Hayes had been handed a rare start against his former club, but it was the man he swapped places with at Celtic, Gary Mackay-Steven, who made the first impression in the match.

The former Hoops winger, fresh from his hat-trick against Hibernian, robbed Dedryck Boyata of possession just outside the box before sending a low angled shot inches wide of the far post.

The incident seemed to spark the Celtic players into action and moments later Stuart Armstrong sent Scott Sinclair clean through on goal but his effort was blocked by the legs of the out-rushing Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen then had chances through Greg Stewart and Kenny McLean, but just as it looked like the Dons might strike first, a fortuitous deflection gifted Celtic the opener.

Hayes teed up Lustig just outside the box and the Swedish defender’s shot came off the back of Dominic Ball on its way into the net leaving Dons keeper Lewis with no chance.

It left Aberdeen with a uphill struggle in the second half as Celtic immediately pressed for a killer second with Moussa Dembele, Ntcham and Tierney coming close.

Despite their hosts’ dominance, Aberdeen held firm until another moment of bad luck allowed Celtic a second.

Mark Reynolds’ diving header came back off team-mate Kari Arnason and former Dons winger Hayes pounced to knock the loose ball home from a couple of yards out.

Aberdeen midfielder McLean then handed the Hoops a third as his slack back-pass to Lewis was intercepted by Ntcham, who rounded the keeper before slotting home into the empty net as the Hoops made it 25 league wins in a row against Aberdeen in Glasgow.

Elsewhere in the Scottish Premiership, another Irishman was on target, as Anthony Stokes helped to a 2-1 win over Ross County, while third-place Rangers lost 2-1 away to Kilmarnock.

Scottish Premiership results on Saturday:

Celtic 3 (Lustig 40, Hayes 69, Ntcham 76) Aberdeen 0

Hibernian 2 (Stokes 21, Shaw 75) Ross County 1 (Curran 14)

Kilmarnock 2 (Boyd 77, 80) Rangers 1 (John 39)

Motherwell 1 (Tanner 61-pen) Dundee 1 (McGowan 47)

Partick 1 (Keown 26) Hamilton 0

St Johnstone 0 Hearts 0

Additional reporting by AFP

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