The Englishman underlined his claim for a Three Lions call-up grabbing four goals as the SPL champions ran out comfortable winners at Parkhead on Tuesday eveningGary Hooper claimed four goals as Celtic strolled into the quarter finals of the Scottish League Cup with a dominant win over Raith Rovers.
The comfortable victory came as the SPL champions prepare to visit league leaders Motherwell on Saturday, before the travel to Russia for their second Champions League tie with Spartak Moscow.
Parkhead boss Neil Lennon handed a first start to deadline day signing Efe Ambrose after the Nigerian international arrived from Israeli side FC Ashdod, while Lukasz Zaluska and Tony Watt claimed starts and Beram Kayal returned from injury to take his place in the team.
Within the first five minutes the visitors had a claim for a penalty as Brian Graham ran onto a long ball and Zaluska brought the striker down as he rushed out, but the Polish stopper just managed to get to the ball before the frontman.
Celtic took the lead as some superb play from James Forrest and McGeouch saw the ball end up at the feet of Hooper, who from only six yards out stroked the ball home to open the scoring.
The hosts then started to apply the pressure, with McGeouch going close before Thomas Rogne hit the post, but it was Raith Rovers who equalised when Allan Walker got the ball just outside the area and his shot took a wicked deflection off of Rogne and over Zaluska to the delight of the visiting support.
Raith Rovers weren’t on level terms for long though, as some superb work in the middle of the park by new-boy Ambrose found Forrest on the left wing, and he raced beyond Jason Thomson and put a pinpoint cross for Hooper to volley home from six yards out.
Celtic continued the second half in an attacking manner, with Ambrose and Watt having efforts on goal, before Hooper claimed his hat-trick as he got onto the end of a ball from Adam Matthews and drilled his shot across the helpless David McGurn for the home side’s third.
Minutes later Hooper got his fourth as McGeouch played the ball into the box for Watt and his strike across the goal found Hooper only a couple of yards out, leaving the striker the simplest of tasks to extend Celtic’s lead.
It was easy street for the home side for the reminder of the game, with some superb play that ended with Forrest having a strike from the edge of the area that smacked off McGurn’s post and away from danger.
Then Matthews tried his luck with a long range effort, but McGurn managed to get a hand to the ball and deflect it for a corner as Celtic booked their place in the quarter finals of the tournament.