CELTIC 4 ST JOHNSTONE 0
SCOTT BROWN signed off his glittering career at Celtic Park with a raking, breathtaking pass that illuminated the evening and typified the captain’s 14-year presence at the club.
The 35-year-old skipper picked out Odsonne Edouard with an exquisite long-range ball that dropped perfectly at the feet of the striker.
The flamboyant French star took a sublime touch to knock the ball between the legs of Shaun Rooney, move beyond the stranded defender and nonchalantly clip an effort away from the outrushing Bobby Zlamal.
It was the 24th minute and the strike sealed a magical quickfire spell for John Kennedy’s side as it doubled their advantage in magnificent fashion.
Moments earlier, David Turnbull had swept the Hoops into the lead after a period of sparring between the two teams. Zlamal picked up a passback on the edge of the box and referee Bobby Madden had little option but to award the Hoops a free-kick.
ON THE BALL…Scott Brown displays his usual zest as he chases a pass.
Ryan Christie knocked the ball to the left and his midfield partner stepped forward to lash a low drive wide of the stranded shotstopper at his right-hand post.
Astoundingly, Edouard passed up the opportunity of a third goal only two minutes later when he failed to connect with a sweeping low right-wing cross from James Forrest.
There was a scare just before the half-hour mark when Jonjoe Kenny presented Chris Kane with a great chance when he misdirected a header straight to the Perth striker. He attempted a lob over the head of Vasilis Barkas, but the keeper stretched to touch the ball upwards and grab the rebound.
A minute later, Turnbull, set free inside the box with a neat pass from Mohamed Elyounoussi, teased in an effort that edged wide of the far upright with the keeper helpless.
Elyounoussi was next up with an effort that rattled into the sidenet after some excellent lead-up play.
Adam Montgomery, the 18-year-old debutant, was settling in nicely at left-back and was concise with his crisp passing.
ED BHOY…Odsonne Edouard scored a sublime second goal.
And he cleared up some imminent danger at the back post when he raced into position to offer protection to Barkas when Craig Conway attempted a low drive from the left-hand side of the box.
In the 63rd minute, Brown came off to end his playing days as a Celt in Paradise. He deserved a 21-gun salute, but he walked off in silence. There will be rapturous applause for this individual at some time in the future. Interestingly, the much-decorated veteran ran to Forrest to hand over the armband with Kristoffer Ajer available.
Ismail Soro came on to take the skipper’s midfield berth while impressive new Bhoy Montgomery made way for Greg Taylor.
Edouard and Elyounoussi then conjured up a double miss smack in front of goal that can be filed under unbelievable. The French ace saw his shot blocked by Rooney and the rebound fell to the Norwegian who thumped it off the grounded Zlamal and the ball whipped up over the bar.
In the 72nd minute, the ‘culprits’ were rewarded when they were removed with Leigh Griffiths and Mikey Johnston taking their places.
A couple of minutes later, Zlamal produced a superb high-flying save to touch a rasping 25-yard left-foot shot from Taylor over the bar.
In the 75th minute, the keeper surpassed that stop with a swoop to his left to push away a fierce diving header from Griffiths after an inviting right-wing cross from Kenny.
I’M IN CHARGE…David Turnbull looks in control of the situation.
It was only a matter before the third goal arrived and it duly did in the 79th minute when a shot from Ajer took a wicked deflection off a defender and looped over the head of the stranded Zlamal.
The Norwegian then became the third skipper for the night when Forrest came off to be replaced by Karamoko Dembele.
In the 85th minute, Dembele marked a rare appearance by scoring a splendid fourth goal after being released with a defence-shredding through ball from Turnbull.
The exciting teenager raced onto the pass, zeroed in from the right and then slipped a cute drive under the body of the overworked Zlamal from a tight angle.
The final whistle will blow on a fairly dismal campaign with the last kick of the ball against Hibs at Easter Road on Saturday afternoon. It will be all over in Celtic’s first trophyless campaign in 11 years.
But, at least, Scott Brown has left us with the heartwarming image of the club’s iconic onfield leader holding aloft the Scottish Cup five days before Christmas, the triumph that sealed the phenomenal quadruple treble.
Thanks for the memories, Broony.
TEAM: Barkas; Kenny, Ajer, Welsh, Montgomery (sub: Taylor 63); Brown (sub: Soro 63), Christie; Forrest (sub: Dembele 80), Turnbull, Elyounoussi (sub: Johnston 72); Edouard (sub: Griffiths 72).