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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020

Boyata goes from villain to hero after scoring winner for Celtic against Hamilton

The Belgian defender returned to the side after deciding not to play in their recent Champions League exit against AEK Athens.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

CELTIC’S DEDRYCK BOYATA restored his reputation with the Scottish champions as he secured a 1-0 win over Hamilton on Sunday.

Boyata returned to the side after his controversial decision not to play in the Hoops’ recent Champions League exit against AEK Athens in Greece.

The Belgian defender had claimed he was injured while Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers disagreed and he was booed by the home fans.

Boyata had come out to see a banner held up among the ultras group, The Green Brigade, which read, ‘Boyata – not fit to wear the jersey’.

But in the 63rd minute there was only green and white joy when he knocked the ball in from close range.

Although uncertainty remains over Boyata’s future, it was an important contribution to Celtic.

They face two more crucial home matches next week, the second leg of their Europa League play-off with Suduva – the tie is poised at 1-1 – and the first Old Firm game of the season against Rangers.

In the day’s other Scottish Premiership clash, Peter Hartley rubbed salt into Rangers’ wounds as the Motherwell captain’s last-gasp equaliser rescued a 3-3 draw against the club he was forced to apologise to.

Hartley had said sorry on Thursday after mocking former Rangers defender Fabio Cardoso following the broken nose he suffered in a tussle with Motherwell’s Ryan Bowman last term.

But Motherwell defender Hartley went from villain to hero for the hosts at Fir Park.

Rangers found themselves behind for the first time under boss Steven Gerrard as Danny Johnson opened the scoring early.

They fought back twice with goals from Kyle Lafferty after Carl McHugh had also struck for the hosts.

It looked like Ovie Ejaria’s goal just before the break would send Rangers on their 4,600-mile, 7,400-kilometre, Europa League round trip to Ufa on Thursday in confident mood, only for Hartley to pounce with the last kick of the game.

“I’m bitterly disappointed with the timing of the equaliser,” Gerrard said.

“It obviously hurts that little bit more that late.

“We’ve got work to do defending set-plays, that’s for sure.

“If I’ve got the substitutions wrong I’ll take the blame, no problem.”

© – AFP 2018

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