CELTIC 6 DUNDEE 0
EMILIO IZAGUIRRE blew the opportunity of a remarkable hat-trick when he missed a second-half penalty-kick in a landslide victory for Ronny Deila’s men.
The Honduran hit the headlines for all the right reasons today after being sent off in the Europa League 2-2 draw with Ajax in Amsterdam on Thursday.
Izaguirre astounded everyone at Parkhead, friend and foe alike, when he netted two second-half goals to come close to equalling a career total.
And he was presented with the ball when the Hoops were awarded a penalty-kick in the 65th minute after his full-back partner Saidy Janko was held back in the box after storming into attack for the umpteenth time in a one-sided affair.
The defender placed the ball on the spot, relishing the thought of a hat-trick. However, the occasion got to the popular player and his elevation was well out as he thumped the ball high over the crossbar. No wonder he shook his head in total disbelief.
In the end, though, it didn’t matter with the champions remaining five points behind leaders Aberdeen after the Pittodrie side’s 3-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle earlier in the day.
But it would have been a wonderful end to a fine afternoon for Celtic – on a day when Nadir Ciftci scored his first Hoops goal – who started in a defiant fashion and completed the 90 minutes in the same fashion.
The champions put down a marker inside the first 10 minutes when Leigh Griffiths could have scored twice against a hesitant Dens Park defence.
The first attempt was a swirling free-kick which swept just wide of Scott Bain’s upright. But the on-fire frontman should have done better shortly afterwards when he was picked out by Nir Bitton with an excellent long-range pass.
Griffiths took a touch onto his right foot and looked set to bulge the net, but he went for power instead of precision and blitzed the ball high over the bar.
But the breakthrough goal came in the 14th minute when Scott Brown sent the rampaging Izaguirre down the left and his cross was volleyed past the helpless Bain by the impressive Tom Rogic.
Two minutes later, Griffiths netted his 10th goal of the campaign with the second as the Dundee defence buckled under non-stop pressure.
The hitman picked up a Rogic pass, beat Kevin Thomson and then thundered a left-foot effort away from Bain. It was also his sixth successive SPFL game on the scoresheet. Impressive shooting!
The third arrived nine minutes after the interval when Izaguirre scored with the aplomb of an accomplished marksman.
He played a neat one-two with Kris Commons, raced into space and fired a right-foot shot beyond the exposed Bain.
The Celtic fans were still coming to terms with that effort when the international full-back collected an incredible second. Swiss Under-21 star Janko stormed down the right touchline again before zipping over a cross. It took a deflection before dropping at the feet of Izaguirre at the back post and this time he drilled a left-foot drive on target.
Then came his big chance in the 65th minute to claim a hat-trick and the matchball after Janko had been held back by Gary Irvine. A stonewall penalty-kick, but Izzy must have gone dizzy and walloped his attempt wildly over the bar.
Two goals in two minutes at the death brought down the curtain on a devastating display of firepower from Deila’s side.
In the 87th minute, Ciftci, on for Griifiths, set up skipper Brown with a measured ball inside and the midfielder’s drive flew low into the net from 12 yards.
Sixty seconds later, there was an almighty roar all around Celtic Park when the Turkish striker scored his first goal for the club since his £1.3million summer transfer from Dundee United.
Ciftci was alert when Irvine tried to pass the ball back to his keeper. He pounced on the wayward ball, carried it through and slipped it stylishly low away from the advancing Bain.
All in all, a good day at the office for Celtic. But, oh, how Emilio Izaguirre will regret the opportunity of slamming in a never-to-be-repeated hat-trick!
CQN Match photographs to follow.
TEAM: Gordon; Janko, Ambrose, Boyata, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons (sub: McGregor 62), Rogic, Forrest (sub: Mackay-Steven 62); Griffiths (sub: Ciftci 55).