By Martin Macdonald
|HOOPS BRUSH ASIDE THE DARK BLUES
Celtic returned to winning ways on Saturday with a commanding 2-0 victory over Dundee in the Scottish Premier League.
The home side were dominant in possession for the vast majority of the match, with the promoted sign only having one or two glimpses of goal throughout the 90 minutes, one of which would have put them ahead after quarter of an hour. Colin Nish saw his effort from inside the box blocked on the line before John Baird, with the goal at his mercy, blazed over the bar.
The early scare sparked the Hoops into upping the tempo of their game, and they should have taken the lead in the 38th minute when Lassad was hacked down inside the area by Kyle Benedictus and the hosts were awarded a penalty. However, Scott Brown’s firm strike from the spot was brilliantly pushed away by former Hoops player Rab Douglas in goal.
It looked as if both sides would head into the break on level terms, but in the 44th minute Gary Hooper latched on to a pass through the middle by Brown and made space to the right of goal before emphatically lashing a strike into the bottom left corner.
Celtic came flying out of the blocks after the break and extended their lead just four minutes into the half through Victor Wanyama. Emiliano Izaguirre slid a pass inside to the Kenyan who showed impeccable technique to fizz a strike off the post and in with the outside of his right foot.
Neil Lennon then took advantage of the comfortable nature of the game for the home side by bringing on a couple of substitutes. Dylan McGeouch received a rapturous applause from the home fans as he came for his first appearance since breaking his jaw in a pre-season friendly against Real Madrid. The Hoops faithful were also awarded a first glimpse of new signing Efe Ambrose, who was introduced in the latter stages.
Celtic relaxed after doubling their lead, and were not troubled at all by Dundee for the remainder of the match, thus securing a relatively easy victory for the Hoops.
|HOOPER QUARTET SEALS PROGRESSION IN LEAGUE CUP
A fantastic four-goal tally from Gary Hooper saw Celtic on their way to a comfortable 4-1 win over Raith Rovers in the Scottish Communities League Cup on Wednesday.
Hoops manager Neil Lennon had made some changes from Saturday’s win over Dundee, with Efe Ambrose making his first start since coming to Glasgow and Dylan McGeouch and Beram Kayal making their first starts after lengthy injury absences.
The home side got off to an excellent start and registered their first goal in the 12th minute when McGeouch dribbled at pace down the right and whipped a cross into the centre for Hooper, who casually guided the ball into the net.
However, the Hoops were given a shock just before the half-hour mark when Allan William’s shot deflected over Kelvin Wilson and looped over the despairing Lukasz Zaluska. This did not affect the Celtic too much, however, as Hooper managed to restore the lead under 10 minutes later when he got on the end of a James Forrest cross to tap in past David McGurn.
Excellent link-up play from Adam Matthews and McGeouch lead to Hooper’s hat trick goal when the Englishman finished off a fine move with a curled shot into the far post. But he wasn’t finished yet, and grabbed his fourth goal of the match when he latched on to Kayal’s weak shot inside the box and fired into the net from close range.
Celtic go on to face Motherwell at the weekend.
|NEXT MATCH: CELTS FACE TOUGH TRIP TO NORTH LANARKSHIRE
Celtic’s next match sees Neil Lennon’s side travel to North Lanarkshire to take on Motherwell at Fir Park in the Scottish Premier League.
Stuart McCall’s men find themselves unlikely leaders of the table at moment after taking 13 points from their first seven matches, two points ahead of the Hoops who are currently third in the table.
The Glasgow side’s last trip to Fir Park was an eventful fair to say the least, and will most be remembered by a terrific brace by youngster Tony Watt on his debut, a player now fully established in the Celtic first team squad.