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Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura helped push Celtic to within two wins of the Scottish Premier League title on Wednesday when he set up an opening goal in the Hoops 2-1 home win over Inverness Caley Thistle.

News photoCeltic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura competes for the ball during a Scottish Premier League match against Inverness Caley Thistle.

Although Nakamura was guilty of squandering the best chance of half after 21 minutes, he produced a solid all-round performance and Celtic took the lead when defender Stephen McManus rose to nod home the former Reggina playmaker’s corner in the 35th minute.

Shaun Maloney scored what proved to be the winner with a delightful free-kick from the edge of the area before Richard Hart gave Inverness some consolation with a long-range effort in the dying stages.

“Nakamura was outstanding for us again but we didn’t play that well and I think that was down to Inverness Caley,” Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was quoted as saying by Reuters after the match.

Celtic can claim their 40th league title with wins over Livingston and nearest rivals Hearts in their next two matches. Wednesday’s match was the first at Parkhead since the death of Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone.

The evening was a celebration of the former winger’s life, with his widow Agnes and surviving members of the 1967 European Cup winning team taking to the pitch before the kick-off.

Elsewhere, striker Yoshito Okubo came on as a late substitute but was unable to find the target as Real Mallorca beat Cadiz 1-0 to stretch their unbeaten run to six matches since Gregorio Manzano took over as coach.

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