Inverness: A makeshift Celtic side swept aside nearest challengers Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-1 here yesterday to open up a massive 18-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
Neil Lennon made nine changes to the side that faced Raith Rovers last weekend with debuts for new signings Rami Gershon and Australian international Tomas Rogic.
There were also rare starts for Paddy McCourt, Marcus Fraser and Dylan McGeouch, while goalkeeper Fraser Forster made his return from a neck injury.
However, Lennon’s decision looked to have backfired when Inverness, who had defeated Celtic in Glasgow earlier in the season, took an early lead through Nick Ross.
But the Hoops hauled themselves level in the 20th minute when Rogic set up Kris Commons to hammer home the equaliser.
Fellow debutant Gershon headed Celtic in front for the first time in the 48th minute before Miku wrapped up the scoring in the 82nd minute as Lennon’s selection gamble paid off ahead of their against the Italian league leaders at Parkhead.
Inverness created their first chance when Ross Draper fed Billy McKay at the edge of the box and he spun before sending his curling effort wide.
The home fans didn’t have long to wait to celebrate though as Ross handed them the lead.
Forster’s weak clearance from a dangerous Aaron Doran cross only made it as far as the edge of the box, where Ross was on hand to drill a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Rogic broke to the byeline before cutting the ball back for team-mate Commons to rifle a thunderous strike beyond Ryan Esson and into the roof of the net.
Rogic then came close to opening his Celtic account as the midfielder clipped an effort just over after being teed up by Anthony Stokes.
Inverness appealed for a penalty at the start of the second half when Doran’s cross appeared to hit the elbow of Marcus Fraser but referee Craig Thomson waved away their protests.
And the home fans felt further aggrieved moments later when Gershon rose highest to connect with McGeouch’s teasing cross from the right to bullet a header past Esson as Celtic took the lead.
They came close to increasing their advantage on the hour
Celtic then moved further ahead in a quick counter-attacking move, as substitute Tony Watt’s cross-field pass found Stokes, who squared the ball for Miku to side-foot low under Esson.AFP