Wednesday 26 July 2017

Stokes strikes as goal-hungry Celtic devour Hibs to take back top spot

Celtic 3
Hibernian 1

Anthony Stokes gave Celtic the perfect start and Gary Hooper claimed a double as Celtic reclaimed top spot in the Scottish Premier League with a comfortable win last night.

Rangers had leapfrogged their Old Firm rivals to the summit 24 hours earlier, but their lofty status was short-lived as the Hoops eased to victory.

Anthony Stokes set the ball rolling before Hooper converted from the penalty spot and claimed his second shortly before half-time.

Liam Miller pulled a goal back from the spot before Hooper passed up the chance of a hat-trick from another penalty.

Celtic made three changes from the side who lost the League Cup final to Rangers, with Stokes, Glenn Loovens and James Forrest all starting, and Thomas Rogne, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons dropping to the bench.

Celtic could have taken the lead after 25 seconds when Hooper exchanged a one-two with Stokes before unleashing a shot that was blocked bravely by Mark Brown.

Angled

They were ahead after four minutes when Emilio Izaguirre supplied the pass for Stokes to send an angled drive into the bottom corner.

Celtic doubled their lead on 20 minute when Scott Brown was tripped in the box by Martin Scott and Hooper lashed the penalty high into the net.

Stokes mis-kicked in front of goal from Hooper's cut-back as Celtic continued to press, and it was 3-0 six minutes from the break, this time Hooper racing onto a Stokes pass before rifling home from six yards.

Celtic swapped Loovens for Rogne at half-time, and Neil Lennon's men still looked dangerous after the break.

Hooper was foiled by Brown, and Izaguirre then exchanged a one-two with Hooper only to drag his effort narrowly wide.

Hibs pulled a goal back after 66 minutes when referee Euan Norris ruled that Charlie Mulgrew had fouled David Wotherspoon in the box. Miller held his nerve to convert from 12 yards.

Stokes was then denied by a fine save from Brown, who turned his swerving free-kick away.

Substitute Freddie Ljungberg made an impact when he was felled by Paul Hanlon in the area on 84 minutes, but Hooper blew the chance of a hat-trick when he fired wide from the spot.

Irish Independent

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