CELTIC 6 HIBS 1
EVERGREEN James Forrest thumped in a glorious hat-trick to become a Celtic Centurian in the champions’ goal romp against Hibs at Parkhead this afternoon.
The 31-year-old forward rolled back the years as he fired a trio behind ex-Hoops keeper David Marshall.
Non-stop Forrest became only the 30th player in the club’s history to hit 100 goals or more.
It was a day of celebration in the east end of Glasgow as Ange Postecoglou’s men went five points ahead at the Premiership pinnacle.
FORREST FIRE…Celtic veteran James Forrest is now a Centurian.
Giorgos Giakoumakis chipped in with a double and Daizen Maeda claimed his first league goal of the season.
Sead Haksabanovic had looked lively right from the start and within a minute had sent in an inviting cross for Giakoumakis.
Unfortunately, the Greek striker was off balance and his header was easily collected by a reiieved Marshall.
The Swede then sent Reo Hatate clear on the left, but the midfielder’s cross was wayward and flew high over everyone in the box before going out of play.
Next up, Aaron Mooy swivelled on the edge of the box to fizz in a lot drive that was deflected for a corner-kick.
Something had to give and the Hoops got the breakthrough goal they so richly deserved in the ninth minute.
Haksabanovic was involved once again when he picked out the eager Forrest at the far post with a cunning low ball from the left.
The raider, making his 451st appearance, timed his run to perfection before drilling a low drive beyond Marshall into the far corner.
DOUBLE TOPS…Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates another goal.
In the 18th minute, Giakoumakis doubled the advantage after Haksabanovic – who else? – sent Alexandro Bernabei racing free on the left and the Argentinian defender whipped in a superb low ball.
The powerhouse striker raced it to wallop a ferocious 12-yard effort beyond the stranded keeper.
Relentless Celtic charged forward in waves and No.3 was claimed in the 24th minute and once again the Easter Road rearguard was shredded.
Haksabanovic, running free on the left, was involved with a ball into the box, Forrest teed up Matt O’Riley and the Danish Under-21 midfielder saw his shot blocked.
The ricochet went to Forrest who sized up the situation in a heartbeat before walloping in a drive. Marshall got both hands to the ball, but couldn’t prevent the effort from dropping over the line.
Forrest celebrated with his team-mates in the knowledge he was now just one strike away from his 100th goal for the club. And he knew it.
BY THE LEFT…Sead Haksabanovic ran amok in the first-half against Hibs.
With an eye towards the Premier Sports League Cup-tie against Motherwell in midweek, Postecoglou kept Haksabanovic in at half-time and sent out Maeda to take his place.
Referee Steven McLean incurred the wrath of the home fans when he booked O’Riley for a nothing challenge five minutes after the turnaround. It was a riidiculous decision.
The yellow card certainly didn’t knock O’Riley out of his stride as he demonstrated moments afterwards with a sweeping ball into the tracks of Maeda who failed to pick out team-mate with his pass.
The Hoops were caught out in the 56th minute when Martin Boyle split the defence with a neat pas to Elie Youan who thrashed a low drive between Joe Hart and the near post.
Boyle then decked Forrest right in front of the match official who on this occasion was content to keep his cards in his pocket.
In the 58th minute, Forrest hit the magical century after being set up by Mooy. The experienced campaigner took a touch to line it up before blitzing a drive high past the helpless Marshall.
Seven minutes later, Forrest, the new Centurian, went off to a rousing farewell from the fans with Liel Abada pushed on in his place.
At the same time, O’Riley was given a breather with Oliver Abildgaard coming on.
In the 70th minute, Kyogo Furuhashi replaced Hatate as Postecoglou utilised his stand-by squad.
JOY BHOY…Daizen Maeda claimed his first Premiership goal of the campaign.
Three minutes later, goal No.5 arrived when Giakoumakis finished off a good move between Anthony Ralston and Abada to score with a low right-foot drive that took a deflection on its way past Marshall.
In the 75th minute, Kyogo smacked an 18-yarder off the base of Marshall’s left-hand post.
Moments afterwards, Giakoumakis, who had taken a knock, went off to be replaced by James McCarthy.
In the 88th minute, Mooy picked out Maeda who knocked a sixth beyond the exposed Marshall.
It was an enjoyable way to round off a great day in the east end of Glasgow.
A special round of applause to James Forrest who can now take his place in the Celtic Goalscorers’ Hall of Fame.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Bernabei; Mooy, O’Riley (sub: Abildgaard 65), Hatate (sub: Kyogo 70); Forrest (sub: Abada 65), Giakoumakis (sub: McCarthy 76), Haksabanovic (sub: Maeda 46).