SWASHBUCKLING champions Celtic swept their Ibrox rivals aside in an awesome performance at Parkhead this afternoon.

Just like February, the Hoops were 3-0 ahead at the interval while they took total control of the encounter as they surged five points clear after only six games.

It was showtime yet again in Paradise as Liel Abada rattled in a double while Filipe Jota and David Turnbull added the others as the stadium rocked from start to finish during another demolition derby.

NUMBER ONE…Liel Abada prepares to pull the trigger and fire a left-foot shot into the net.

It took the Hoops only eight minutes to claim the breakthrough goal and it was all down to speed of thought and deed.

Jota took a swift throw-in on the left to Matt O’Riley who had wandered unnoticed into the opposing penalty box.

The midfielder zipped a ball to Abada just about on the penalty spot and the Israeli winger whipped a low shot at goal. Jon McLaughlin managed to get a left hand to the effort, but he couldn’t prevent it from rolling across the line.

PARADISE…Celtic players and fans celebrate the opening strike from Liel Abada.

Cue delirious bedlam at Parkhead as the fans rose in unison to celebrate a superb strike from the winger who, of course, walloped in a second-half hat-trick against Dundee United just days beforehand.

Number two arrived in the 32nd minute and, just like the first strike, it was done at a breathtaking pace that left Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s players in the slipstream of the title winners.

Skipper Callum McGregor, who didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the 90 minutes-plus, didn’t waste any time with a free-kick as he picked out the elegant O’Riley, once again in a pocket of space, and the Danish Under-21 playmaker delivered a sublim pass in front of Jota who was sprinting clear of Connor Goldson.

NUMBER TWO…Filipe Jota dinks the ball over the stranded Jon McLaughlin to double the Hoops’ advantage.

HAIL THE HERO…Filipe Jota accepts the acclaim of the delighted fans.

SMILES BETTER…Filipe Jota grins as he wins with Giorgos Giakoumakis, Liel Abada and Matt O’Riley joining in the celebrations.

The Portuguese raider raced into the box, drew McLaughlin from his line and then sent an exquisite dink over the keeper into the net.

Blink and you missed an incident in this encounter with Postecoglou’s men maintaining a high tempo for a huge percentage of the opening half.

It was only a question of time when the third goal arrived and Abada duly delivered five minutes from the interval with the visitors just about on their knees.

Once again, there was a quick throw-in on the left, Greg Taylor zipped in a low cross and the pacy international touchline ace was in the clear again to drill a first-time right-foot drive through the legs of the alarmed McLaughlin.

NUMBER THREE…Liel Abada is congratulated by Matt O’Riley after thundering in his second goal of the day.

Half-time couldn’t come quickly enough for Van Bronckhorst’s players with the Hoops in full flow.

And yet there was a scare for the champions in only two minutes when talisman Kyogo Furuhashi had to go off after sustaining an shoulder injury following a challenge from the robust John Lundstram.

The Japanese hitman tried gamely to play on, but it was clear he couldn’t continue and Giorgos Giakoumakis came on in his place.

It was a similar tale in the 57th minute when Carl Starfelt had to go off after sustaining an injury in a challenge with Malik Tillman. Bizarrely, referee Nick Walsh chose to book the Celt on the say-so of his assistant.

It wasn’t the only eyebrow-raising yellow card from the match official. Lundstram, James Tavernier and Scott Arfield all escaped a booking while Goldson should have been shown a straight red for a nasty trip on Maeda. He was let off with a yellow.

Giakoumakis complained to the whistler and was immediately booked.

Spare a thought, then, for poor Cameron Carter-Vickers. He went into the book for his first foul in the 49th minute when he tugged Ryan Kent’s shirt well outside the area. Laughable, really.

HAPPY DAZE…goalscorer Liel Abada is just about smothered by ecstatic Josip Juranovic as Carl Starfelt and Matt O’Riley join in. 

Moritz Jenz came on for the Swede and the on-loan German strolled through the game as though he had been a fixture in the Glasgow derby for years.

Celtic still out-thought and outfought their opponents for the bulk of the second 45 minutes and Postecoglou freshened up the team again in the 72nd minute when he withdrew O’Riley, Hatate and Abada and put on Turnbull, Aaron Mooy and Daizen Maeda.

The game was drifting, but the Hoops, with Giakoumakis particularly keen to get on the scoresheet, still managed to net a fourth goal in the 78th minute.

NUMBER FOUR…David Turnbull completes the scoring as he rolls the ball wide of the despairing Jon McLaughlin.

THREE CHEERS…Moritz Jenz, Giorgos Giakoumakis and David Turnbull celebrate the fourth goal.

It was a howler from McLaughlin who received a goal-kick square pass from James Tavernier and then presented the ball straight to Turnbull.

The stylish midfielder gratefully accepted the gift and rolled the ball wide of the startled netminder to bring down the curtain on another pulverising, polished performance from the champions.

Bring on Real Madrid!

TEAM: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt (sub: Jenz 57), Taylor; O’Riley (sub: Mooy 72), McGregor, Hatate (sub: Turnbull 72); Abada (sub: Maeda 72), Kyogo (sub: Giakoumakis 4), Jota.


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