Sunday, September 30, 2007

McDonald's Hat Trick Paces the Bhoys!

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Clydesdale Bank Premier League
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Celtic Park, Glasgow

(McDonald 7, 67, 72)


CELTIC (4-4-2) Boruc; Doumbe, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Brown, Hartley, Donati (Sno 78), McGeady; McDonald (Zurawski 82), Vennegoor of Hesselink (Killen 37)
Subs not used: M.Brown, Kennedy, Riordan, O’Dea

DUNDEE UNITED (4-5-1) Szamotulski; Dillon, Wilkie, Dods, Robson; Flood (Cameron 61); Hunt, D. Robertson (Robb 46), Gomis (Duff 46), Buaben; J. Robertson
Subs not used: McLean, Kerr, Kenneth, Russell

MAN OF THE MATCH: Scott McDonald


SCOTT McDONALD grabbed his first Celtic hat-trick as the SPL champions moved back to the top of the table with a convincing 3-0 win over Dundee United.

The Australian striker was simply unstoppable as he fired home a clinical treble in a superb individual performance. Indeed, having scored with his left foot, right foot and head, it was the perfect hat-trick.

McDonald put Celtic in front after seven minutes and made sure of the points with a double after the break. Along with outstanding Aiden McGeady, he was on fire for the Hoops on a satisfying afternoon.

Following Rangers’ 1-1 draw with Motherwell earlier today, Celtic knew they would return to the top of the league on goal difference should they earn three points against Craig Levein’s side. And they made sure they did.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan made three changes to his side following Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Dundee in the CIS Cup. McGeady, Joe Doumbe and Paul Hartley returned to the starting line-up. Evander Sno, John Kennedy and Derek Riordan dropped to the bench.

Strachan opted to play McGeady on the right side of midfield and that move paid dividends immediately as the winger left Barry Robson for dead before crossing for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

The Dutch striker sent a powerful header towards goal, forcing a spectacular save from Grzegorz Szamotulski. However, with the ball spinning in the air, McDonald was on hand to nod over the line from two yards and put Celtic ahead after only seven minutes.

The Australian has caught the eye in his early Celtic career and was hugely impressive against United. He scored three superb goals, while some of his link-up play was a joy to watch.

One back-heel flick to release strike partner Vennegoor of Hesselink was sublime, but an offside flag halted the Dutchman as he homed in on goal. That was to be one of Vennegoor of Hesselink’s last acts in the match. He limped off after 37 minutes to be replaced by Chris Killen.

Scott Brown, back in central midfield, was in the thick of the action at both ends and had a decent penalty shout in the 31st minute. McGeady and McDonald created an opening and the midfielder was upended – but referee Dougie McDonald ignored Celtic’s claims.

McGeady was shining for Celtic and gave Robson, then Stuart Duff, a torrid time on the right flank. The winger almost made it 2-0 when he took McDonald’s searching pass, drifted inside and forced Szamotulski into a good stop.

United were well organised, but had few chances in the first period. They did test the Hoops from set-pieces, but Artur Boruc’s handling was first-class and the Polish goalkeeper even had time to side-step Noel Hunt with a neat piece of footwork.

Killen had two chances to increase Celtic’s lead at the start of the second period. He took McDonald’s pass and sent a shot wide, before just failing to connect with Brown’s cross.

At the other end, United stunned Celtic by almost equalising in the 57th minute when Jordan Robertson was sent through on goal. Boruc, however, stood up and produced a top-class save.

Darren Dods also nodded a Robson corner wide, but Celtic were never in any danger and increased their lead in the 67th minute. Brown did the spadework with a rampaging run and eventually the ball dropped to McDonald. The striker showed great strength to hold off a defender, side-step Szamotulski and roll in from a tight angle.

Five minutes later, it was 3-0 and what a strike it was. McDonald won possession, fed Brown and he shuffled the ball to McGeady. Without hesitating, he fired in a superb cross and McDonald slotted home.

The Aussie received a standing ovation from the Celtic support when he was replaced by Maciej Zurawski late on. He returned on the pitch at the end to collect the match-ball – a fitting souvenir for the hat-trick hero.

Hail! Hail!


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