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Stokes shows his class as Hoops go top

It took Anthony Stokes just four minutes to remind Neil Lennon of his goal threat as Celtic beat his old side Hibernian 3-1 to go back to the top of the Scottish Premier League.

A crossfield pass from Emilio Izaguirre was left by Gary Hooper and Stokes raced onto the chance to shoot low across Mark Brown to put Celtic into the lead.

After 120 minutes of frustration on the sidelines at Hampden Park watching Rangers lift the Co-Operative Cup, Stokes took his anger out on his old club with his 10th goal since the turn of the year.

Within a minute, the Stokes-Hooper partnership had shown it's menace as the former Scunthorpe striker was sent through on Brown but saw his shot blocked.

"The strikers were excellent tonight," Celtic assistant Johan Mjallby smiled. "If they play like that they are unstoppable.

"For defenders, they are hard to control and I hope that they can keep that going over the rest of the season.

"It was very important for us to start the game well and that came from the strikers. They took their chances and kept the Hibs defenders occupied. That makes it easier for the other guys in the team."

Hooper was quickly in on the act, scoring a 20th-minute penalty and adding his second before the interval, and both strikers are ready to slug it out to top the scoring charts and chase the league title.



Hands

"He's got two more than me overall but I've got one more in the league," Hooper said. "It's in our hands now and we know we will do it if we win every game.

"The Hibs and St Mirren games this week were always going to be two big fixtures for us as they're both at home. Our fans are great and being on our home turf gives us an advantage. We're out to win every game but these two are massive for us getting back to winning ways and showing we're strong after the cup final defeat."

Liam Miller pulled a goal back for Hibs from the penalty spot midway through the second half, but Hooper lost out on the chance to claim a hat-trick when he missed from the spot in the 84th minute.

On Saturday, Celtic have the chance to extend their lead to five points at the top of the table by beating St Mirren 24 hours before Rangers travel to play Hamilton Academical.

The SPL said the final Old Firm derby of the season will take place on Easter Sunday, with a 12.30 kick-off.


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