Football: Griffiths grabs hat-trick as Celtic humble Hamilton

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scores their seventh goal and completes his hat-trick at the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership in Celtic Park on Jan 19, 2016.
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths scores their seventh goal and completes his hat-trick at the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership in Celtic Park on Jan 19, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

GLASGLOW (AFP) - Leigh Griffiths scored a hat-trick as Celtic handed Hamilton a humiliating 8-1 defeat to extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

The game, a rearranged fixture from December, was over as a contest as early as the tenth minute as an explosive start saw Celtic grab three quick goals.

Mikel Lustig nodded home the first, Nir Bitton grabbed the second with a sizzling strike before Australian international Tom Rogic's deflected strike made it 3-0.

Top scorer Griffiths got his 25th of the season in the 22nd minute with a strike from a tight angle before tapping in his second ahead of the break.

The goals continued to flow in the second half as substitute James Forrest made it 6-0 in the 53rd minute before Griffiths punished some poor defending to complete his hat-trick a minute later.

Eamonn Brophy grabbed a 73rd minute consolation for Hamilton before Callum McGregor made it 8-1 in the 89th minute to move the Scottish champions six points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table.

"It was a fantastic night and a very good performance. We scored a lot of goals and could have scored more," Celtic manager Ronny Deila said. "I am very pleased with the performance and the boys."

Hamilton manager Martin Canning said the manner of the defeat was bitterly disappointing. "When you lose goals in that manner and you concede three goals in ten minutes, you are giving yourself no chance," Canning said.

"We didn't have enough leadership on the park tonight and to lose in the manner that we did is unacceptable."

Griffiths had already had a shot blocked on the line in the first minute before Lustig headed home a fourth minute opener. Stuart Armstrong swung a free-kick in from the left and the stand-in skipper glanced his header past Michael McGovern from close range.

Celtic continued to press forward and their second came in the ninth minute with a sensational strike from Bitton. The Israeli midfielder collected a pass from Callum McGregor before rifling an unstoppable 20 yard shot past McGovern into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Hamilton barely had time to regroup before the Hoops added a third 90 seconds later. Lustig's cut-back found Rogic lurking in the box and the Socceroo star's effort took a deflection off Hamilton's Michael Devlin on its way into the net.

Gary Mackay-Steven made the most of a rare start as he set up Griffiths to make it 4-0 in the 22nd minute. The winger waltzed through the Hamilton defence before laying the ball off to Griffiths who took a touch before firing the ball under McGovern from a tight angle.

There was to be no let up for Hamilton as top-scorer Griffiths added another in the 34th minute. Rogic collected the ball out on the right and, with the Hamilton defence in chaos, he picked out Griffiths at the back post to tap the ball in from a couple of yards out.

Scott Allan then teed up Forrest to drill a low angled shot beyond McGovern as the half-time substitutes combined for Celtic's sixth in the 53rd minute.

Some kamikaze defending from Hamilton allowed Griffiths to complete his hat-trick straight from the restart. The striker charged down Devlin's attempted clearance before chipping McGovern to make it 7-0.

Hamilton grabbed a consolation goal in the 73rd minute as Brophy scampered into the box to get on the end of Greg Docherty's through ball before slotting his shot through the legs of Craig Gordon.

McGregor grabbed a late eighth for Celtic with a rasping drive on a night Hamilton will want to forget.