CELTIC 5 HAMILTON ACCIES 1
ODSONNE EDOUARD started as he fully intends to continue with the opening goal on his way to a glorious hat-trick in the Premiership curtain-raiser at Parkhead this afternoon.
The French striker went into the clash against Accies with a record of scoring in the past two seasons against Livingston and St Johnstone as the campaign kicked off. And he was on mark again to complete a superb sequence.
It took 20 minutes for Edouard to claim the breakthrough strike, but a lot of the credit must go to rampaging Jeremie Frimpong whose switch of pace and direction took the visitors on the back foot. The pacey Dutch teen raced inside and switched the ball on to Edouard who knocked it wide to Greg Taylor on the left.
HOOPS, I’VE DONE IT AGAIN…Odsonne Edouard opens the scoring with keeper Ryan Fulton helpless.
Last term’s top scorer with 28 goals then sped into the penalty area to get on the end of the left-back’s well-driven assist. Keeper Ryan Fulton failed to cut out the left-wing cross and the team’s talisman didn’t break stride as he fired into the inviting net from four yards.
Frimpong got his reward for his adventurous play in the 31st minute when he doubled the Hoops’ advantage. And once again his full-back partner Taylor was involved in the defence-shredding move.
The Scotland international raced forward to collect a neat pass from Callum McGregor before firing over another threatening low cross. Frimpong saw his opening at the back post and hammered the ball in first-time with the Accies utterly exposed at the devastating speed of the move.
DUTCH TREAT…Jeremie Frimpong smashes in No.2 at the far post.
However, there was a wake-up call for the champions only three minutes later when Accies got a double slice of good fortune to pull a goal back.
Scott Martin, who had earlier been booked for a crude foul on Frimpong, tried his luck from 20 yards, but his low shot didn’t look as though it carried a threat until it took a nick off McGregor and then another off Christopher Jullien as it completely flummoxed the wrong-footed Scott Bain and diverted in at the keeper’s right-hand post.
There was little doubt it would have to go down as an own goal from the Frenchman which simply emphasised it may not be turning out to be his day. Three times in the opening 45 minutes, he had chances to score and all three failed to find their way beyond Fulton.
The first was a flying header from a Ryan Christie left-wing corner-kick that brought out a good diving save from the keeper.
OUT OF LUCK…Christopher Jullien shows his feelings after smacking a volley off the woodwork.
In the 14th minute, he volleyed another Christie set-play at goal and this time he was thwarted when his vicious effort smacked off the foot of the post and rebounded behind.
And a ferocious shot on the drop from yet another Christie corner-kick was scrambled clear by a relieved rearguard at the first-half edged to a conclusion.
The Hoops restarted in whirlwind fashion and within four minutes the unstoppable Edouard had added his second after a sweeping six-man move down the right and four minutes later the charismatic raider had completed his hat-trick.
Celtic’s third goal was beautifully constructed and excellently despatched. Keeper Bain, Scott Brown, Kristoffer Ajer, Frimpong and Christie combined to set James Forrest scampering clear on the right. His cross was perfection and Edouard muscled his way in front of Jamie Hamilton to tuck a right-foot effort wide of Fulton.
THREE’N’EASY…Odsonne Edouard (centre) knocks in his hat-trick.
Moments later, he pounced on a rebound from Christie drive after the keeper had made a fine save. However, the striker was alert to the loose ball and stuck it away with a fair amout of ease.
It certainly augers well for the new season.
The Accies netminder deserved some sympathy as he single-handedly prevented the Hoops from running amok. He produced a spectacular diving save to his left to paw away and effort from Forrest and he denied Frimpong with a fine block before McGregor saw his header from the rebound hacked off the goal-line to deny him an early-season counter.
Going forward, there was a lot to admire about Neil Lennon’s side with Frimpong and Taylor attacking on the flanks at every opportunity. Edouard effortlessly strolled through his minutes on the pitch and there were the usual flashes of inspiration from Forrest and the astuteness and industry from McGregor and Brown.
BREAKTHROUGH…Patryk Klimala celebrates his first competitive goal for the Hoops.
IT TAKES TWO…Patryk Klimala is congratulated by Hatem Abd Elhamed after netting the Hoops’ fifth.
In the 70th minute, Olivier Ntcham came on for Mohamed Elyounoussi who only moments earlier had been denied a goal following an excellent stop from the overworked Fulton.
Four minutes from the end, Lennon put on Patryk Klimala, Karamoko Dembele and Hatem Abd Elhamed for Edouard, Christie and Frimpong.
There was an immediate reward when Polish hitman Klimala raced through on a pass from Jullien to slot the fifth goal beyond Fulton.
Celtic finished the day on top of the league. A good place to be in the race for the historic 10th successive title.
TEAM: Bain; Frimpong (sub: Elhamed 86), Jullien, Ajer, Taylor; Brown, Christie (sub: Dembele 86); Forrest, McGregor, Elyounoussi (sub: Ntcham 70); Edouard (sub: Klimala 86).