Sunday 18 March 2018

Celtic talk up Euro bid after Hooper brace

St Mirren 0 Celtic 2

Roddy Forsyth

Tomorrow may yield a return to the Europa League for Celtic -- if UEFA decide to throw Sion out for fielding ineligible players -- but in the meantime the Hoops eased the hangover of last week's defeats in Switzerland and at home to St Johnstone with a comfortable SPL win in Paisley.

The victory came courtesy of two Gary Hooper strikes which ensured that the game was decided almost before it had begun.

Hooper was certainly helped by marshmallow resistance at the heart of the St Mirren defence but the most crucial factor for the forward was his own sharp reflexes.

After six minutes he played a perfect one-two with Anthony Stokes and beat Craig Samson with a low angled finish.

Six minutes later he left the goalkeeper helpless again, this time when he pounced on a hopelessly wayward pass by former Celtic midfielder Paul McGowan before darting on into the box to shoot precisely home.

Should Celtic find themselves restored to the Europa League they will be in perhaps the most attractive section of all, with Atletico Madrid, Udinese and Rennes as opponents.

"It's a Champions League group," said assistant manager Alan Thompson, deputising for boss Neil Lennon, who had gone off to attend to transfer possibilities.

"The manager is confident with the squad we have, but if we can add one or two then it will make us stronger for the season ahead.

"I wouldn't think that the UEFA decision about Sion would have any bearing on signings unless the players themselves are interested in European football.

"For Michel Platini to come out and make the statements that he has done tells you that there are views in the higher ranks of UEFA." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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