Dublin: 18°C Sunday 26 June 2022

Celtic score two goals in three minutes and hold off late rally in five-goal battle to go top

Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Albian Ajeti were on target for Neil Lennon’s side.

Ryan Christie celebrates after his goal for Celtic.
Ryan Christie celebrates after his goal for Celtic.
Image: PA

CELTIC CAME FROM behind for the second time this week to go top of the Premiership with a 3-2 victory over Livingston.

Neil Lennon’s side had given up the first goal away to St Mirren on Wednesday night before winning 2-1 and found themselves behind at home when Livi midfielder Jason Holt scored a 16th-minute penalty.

Ireland’s Shane Duffy, who was on target for Celtic earlier this week, played the full 90 minutes for the winners.

Two goals in three minutes from Parkhead playmaker Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie had the Hoops ahead at the interval and Switzerland striker Albian Ajeti added a third seven minutes into the second half.

Livi defender Julien Serrano, on loan from Monaco, pulled a goal back in the 78th minute but it was not enough to prevent the champions going ahead of Rangers on goals for having played the same number of games, albeit the Light Blues have the chance to go back top on Sunday against Hibernian.

After a tepid start to the match, there was a trio of goals, the first of which followed an unsuccessful Celtic penalty shout in the 14th minute when Livingston defender Ciaron Brown blocked a close-range shot from Christie, who had come close with a free-kick moments earlier.

Referee Gavin Duncan ignored the claim but not Livingston’s moments later when Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer handled a cross from Scott Tiffoney, with former Rangers midfielder Holt slamming the spot-kick past Vasilis Barkas.

The champions’ response was perfect.

McGregor took a pass from Ajeti and hammered it high past Livi keeper Robby McCrorie from the edge of the box with the help of a deflection for his 50th goal for the Hoops.

Three minutes later, the Scotland midfielder sent Greg Taylor racing down the left and his cut-back was smartly converted by the influential Christie.

Ajeti’s goal in the 52nd minute was impressive.

Olivier Ntcham picked up the ball and moved it on to Christie, whose first-time pass put the Switzerland striker through against McCrorie and he confidently swept it past the keeper.

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Celtic relaxed further and tightened their grip on the game.

In the 68th minute, McCrorie made a good save at his near post from Jeremie Frimpong.

Among a slew of substitutes, Celtic’s James Forrest and his brother, Livingston’s Alan Forrest, came on to play against each other for the first time before Serrano notched his first Livingston goal with a glorious strike from 25 yards.

The goal ensured an uncomfortable finish for the home side, who were let off when Livingston substitute Carlo Pignatiello missed a late chance when he headed wide.

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