DAIZEN MAEDA surely fired himself into the Celtic history books in the 3-0 triumph over St Mirren in Paisley last night.

The Japanese striker thumped the champions into the lead in only 54 SECONDS – and became the first Hoops player to score the club’s first goal in three successive years.

Maeda kicked off his special hat-trick on his debut when he netted with a quickfire shot past Hibs keeper Matt Macey, continued the trend with the opening goal at Ibrox last year and made it a tremendous trio with his effort against the Saints.

Here’s how the pacy international ace shot into the Parkhead annals of fame.

STRIKE ONE…Daizen Maeda celebrates his first goal for Celtic in January 2022.

January 17 2022

CELTIC 2 Hibs 0

Maeda had just arrived from Yokohama F Marinos as part of the triple swoop on the J-League along with midfielders Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi.

All three made their first appearances for the Hoops against the Edinburgh club and the frontman showed signs of things to come by racing onto a Tom Rogic pass to open the scoring in the fifth minute.

Josip Juranovic made certain with a 25th-minute penalty-kick.

TEAM: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; McGregor, Hatate (sub: Ideguchi 74), Rogic; Abada (sub: Johnston 74), Maeda (sub: Giakoumakis 74), Forrest (sub: Jota 82).

STRIKE TWO…Daizen Maeda fires past Allan McGregor in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox in January 2023.

January 2 2023

Rangers 2 CELTIC 2

Remarkably, Maeda scored the Hoops’ first goal of 2023 and, just as amazing, he claimed it in the fifth minute for the second successive occasion.

He raced onto a loose ball across the pitch from Alfredo Morelos, sped past James Tavernier, sidefooted Connor Goldson, lured Allan McGregor from his line and neatly tucked the ball into the corner.

It was the perfect start for Ange Postecoglou’s men, but some slack defensding shortly after the interval allowed the hosts to net twice through Ryan Kent and Tavernier (pen).

Kyogo Furuhashi thrashed in the equaliser two minutes from time.

TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor (sub: Juranovic 21); O’Riley (sub: Mooy 61), McGregor, Hatate (sub: Jota 77); Forrest (sub: Abada 61), Kyogo, Maeda (sub: Giakoumakis 77).

STRIKE THREE…Maeda is a heartbeat away from history as he prepares to score Celtic’s first goal of 2024.

January 2 2024

St Mirren 0 CELTIC 3

Dazzling Daizen scorched away from Saints defender Scott Tanser onto a pass from Matt O’Riley to stroke the ball wide of the outrushing Zach Hemming inside a minute.

The rapid-fire strike opened the way for Brendan Rodgers’ side to restore their eight-point advantage at the Premiership pinnacle with the winter break now in operation.

O’Riley slipped in No.2 in the sixth minute and Greg Taylor first-timed the third on the hour mark.

TEAM: Hart; A Johnston, Nawrocki (sub: Lagerbielke 63), Scales, Taylor; Bernardo (sub: Hatate 71), McGregor, O’Riley; Maeda (sub: Abada 63), Kyogo (sub: Oh 71), Palma (sub: Yang 55).


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