CELTIC 6 ST MIRREN 0
RAMPANT Celtic obliterated the challenge of St Mirren with a breathtaking six-goal performance at rainswept Parkhead this afternoon.
Ange Postecoglou couldn’t hide a smile of satisfaction from dominating his features as he watched his players click into gear as they surged menacingly forward at every opportunity in an effort to pile on the goals – and the pleasure for the appreciative audience.
David Turnbull took the spotlight with a superb hat-trick, but it was an eye-catching, all-star show from the Hoops who had over 30 efforts at goal in a lop-sided encounter.
The Saints were on the ropes after only 45 minutes when they went in four goals adrift after doubles from tricky and lethal winger Liel Abada and stylish midfielder Turnbull. They were also down to 10 men after Alan Power’s crazy sending-off.
FIVE HAPPY MEN…Ange Postecoglou celebrates a Celtic goal against St Mirren with backroom Bhoys Stephen McManus, John Kennedy, Steve Woods and Gavin Strachan.
It was a pulverising display by a team who have clearly bought into the ideas and system of the Greek-Australian.
Postecoglou’s action men went into this encounter on the back of five successive wins while smashing 18 goals past the opposition. And they showed they were desperate to continue the triumphant sequence while maintaining the feelgood factor.
The Hoops were relentless as they stormed down on Jak Alnwick’s goal in waves right from the off as rain swirled around the packed stadium.
Turnbull had already hit the left-hand upright in the early moments and Abada had already struck by the time Power was foolishly dismissed for a brutal studs-up assault on Turnbull on the left touchline. It was a rush-of-blood-to-the-head moment for the defender as he launched into a needless and nasty tackle and earned an immediate red card from referee Willie Collum.
Three minutes afterwards, Abada headed in his second and the Paisley side were on their knees when Turnbull exacted personal retribution with a whiplash right-foot drive from outside the box that zipped past the diving Alnwick at his left-hand side.
FAN-TASTIC…Liel Abada is congratulated by delighted Celtic supporters after opening the scoring.
Just to prove he was human, Kyogo Furuhashi blew an ideal chance to make it four just after the high-hour mark when he skied an Anthony Ralston right-wing cross over the bar from two yards at the back post.
In the 37th minute, Odsonne Edouard was out of luck with a smart flick that clipped the top of the crossbar and flew off to safety as far as the under-pressure visiting defenders were concerned.
Celtic’s movement in the middle of the park was a joy to behold while rejuvenated Ralston was storming down the right wing with menace throughout. The watching Josip Juranovic, who sealed his £2.6million switch from Legia Warsaw earlier in the day, will realise he faces a real fight for the No.2 position.
Number four inevitably followed in the 44th minute when Alnwick attempted to claw away a right-wing cross from Abada, but the ball dropped smack in front of Turnbull who first-timed the inviting ball straight into the net from eight yards.
TREBLE YELL…David Turnbull looks happy after scoring for the Hoops.
Shortly after the turnaround, Turnbull was within inches of his hat-trick with a sizzling low 25-yard effort that whipped past Alnwick’s right-hand post and on the hour mark the keeper made an instinctive save to foil Kyogo after the striker had flashed in a close-range drive after some good service from Abada on the right.
In the 62nd minute, Edouard thumped in No.5 after some great work by Turnbull and Kyogo on the left. The pacy Japanese frontman picked out the French ace who saw his first shot blocked, but followed up immediately to tuck a right-foot shot beyond the stranded and overworked keeper.
Five minutes later, Postecoglou made a double switch with Callum McGregor and Kyogo being replaced by Ismaila Soro and Tom Rogic. Interestingly, McGregor handed the captain’s armband to Ryan Christie.
In the 72nd minute, Edouard unselfishly set up Rogic smack in front of goal, but the Aussie’s first-time left-foot effort was deflected past the upright by the outstetched leg of Alnwick.
ON THE MARK…Odsonne Edouard netted his third goal of the season against Saints.
The netminder was his team’s hero again when he denied Christie with a save at his near post following a neat header from an Abada right-wing cross.
In the 83rd minute, Edouard came off to a standing ovation with Albian Ajeti coming on in his place. Within a minute the Swiss striker had set up No 6 with a run down the left and a pass inside to Rogic who poked a pass in front of Turnbull. The midfielder didn’t hesitate as he slid the ball under the outrushing Alnwick to complete his hat-trick.
Now all eyes are on Alkmaar on Thursday night and the vitally-important return leg of the Europa League play-off final.
On this sort of devastating attacking form it is unlikely Postecoglou’s men will sit back as they protect a two-goal advantage.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Welsh, Starfelt, Taylor; Turnbull, McGregor (sub: Soro 67), Christie; Abada, Edouard (sub: Ajeti 83), Kyogo (sub: Rogic 67).