Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Hooper doubles up in Celtic Old Firm win

Celtic's Gary Hooper celebrates breaking the deadlock at Parkhead

Celtic 3-0 Rangers: Gary Hooper grabbed a double as Celtic strengthened their grasp on top spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a 3-0 win over Rangers.

Kris Commons was also on target once again in the Old Firm derby as the Hoops moved eight points clear at the summit.

The victory puts them beyond the reach of Rangers for now, regardless of the outcome of their two games in hand.

Nikica Jelavic was drafted straight back into the Rangers team as the lone striker after being ineligible for Thursday's Europa League tie against Sporting Lisbon.

Steven Naismith returned from injury and Kyle Bartley also started, with Kyle Lafferty, Vladimir Weiss and Richard Foster dropping out of the side.

Celtic made just one change from their win over Dundee United as Anthony Stokes was replaced by Georgios Samaras, who netted a double at Ibrox in January.

El-Hadji Diouf - who spat on a Celtic fan on his last visit to Parkhead in 2003 - was jeered every time he touched the ball.

But it was Bartley who picked up the first booking after just three minutes for a challenge on Scott Brown.

Celtic took the lead after 17 minutes when Commons supplied the pass for Hooper and he beat David Weir for pace before rifling past Allan McGregor.

Jelavic tried to pull a goal back quickly but could only look on in frustration as he hooked well over the crossbar.

Celtic increased their lead after 28 minutes when Hooper claimed his second of the day.

Samaras started the move by releasing Emilio Izaguirre out on the left and he whipped a great ball to the feet of Hooper to stab home.

Referee Iain Brines produced his yellow card again as Diouf and Beram Kayal were both cautioned in the aftermath of the celebrations.

Naismith appeared to be struggling and was replaced by Lafferty at the break.

Rangers tried to haul themselves back into the game and Jelavic nodded just wide from a Steven Davis cross.

But only last gasp defending prevented them from falling further behind when Sasa Papac cleared Brown's header off the line.

At the other end, Diouf tried to lob Fraser Forster but the Hoops goalkeeper was up to the challenge.

Celtic made a change of their own when Kayal was swapped for Ki Sung-yeung, before Madjid Bougherra was booked for dissent.

Diouf was withdrawn with just over 20 minutes to go to the delight of the Celtic fans as Rangers threw David Healy into the action in search of a goal.

But there was no way back for the Scottish champions when Celtic netted their third after 70 minutes.

Hooper had been impressive and turned provider for Commons who sent a swerving effort past McGregor into the back of the net.

The Rangers goalkeeper then did well to block a ferocious strike from Ki but by then the damage was well and truly done.

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