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Celtic leapfrogged Old Firm rivals Rangers to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League by a point with a narrow 2-1 win over Hamilton at a sodden New Douglas Park.

A textbook volley from Shaun Maloney after 15 minutes and a close-range drive from Scott McDonald just before the half-hour mark gave the visitors a comfortable interval lead.

The Parkhead side were cruising through the second half until Mickael Antoine-Curier revived the home side with a goal seven minutes from the end and only Celtic goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska's fine save from James McArthur prevented the home side stealing a point.

The victory will take the pressure off Tony Mowbray and put it back on Ibrox boss Walter Smith as both sides look ahead to Co-operative Insurance Cup ties in midweek, but the Celtic boss will simply be glad to have left Lanarkshire with all three points.

The game got off to a disjointed start but Hamilton were architects of their own downfall in the 15th minute when the visitors took the lead through Maloney.

Midfielder Marco Paixao carelessly lost possession to Andreas Hinkel deep in his own half and when the German's cross came over to the back post, Maloney volleyed across Accies goalkeeper Tomas Cerny and into the corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

In the 29th minute the visitors all-but sealed the points when McDonald doubled their lead.

Aiden McGeady and Georgios Samaras combined at pace down the right and when the ball broke to the Australia international eight yards out, he slammed it past Cerny with the aid of a deflection.

Niall McGinn and Marc Crosas then replaced Maloney and McDonald but in the 83rd minute the home side gave themselves a lifeline when striker Antoine-Curier re-directed a McArthur drive past Zaluska from close range.

With two minutes remaining, as Celtic wobbled for the first time in the game, Zaluska saved the day and it was a relieved travelling support who welcomed the final whistle.

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Shaun Maloney
Premier League
Scott McDonald

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