Samaras treble sinks Killie
Georgios Samaras grabbed a hat-trick as Celtic warmed up for the visit of Barcelona in midweek with a 5-2 win over Kilmarnock in their Scottish Premiership clash at Rugby Park.
The visitors raced into a three-goal lead in 26 minutes through a Kris Commons strike and a Samaras double but Killie midfielder Sammy Clingan, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury, reduced the deficit with a great free-kick before defender Sean Clohessy made it 3-2 just before the break.
The second half by comparison was an anti-climax with the home side never really threatening to draw level before Samaras sealed the win in the 87th minute with a header and substitute Amido Balde, on for Teemu Pukki, scoring a fifth two minutes later.
Celtic will be tested more in their Champions League Group H clash with the Catalan giants at Parkhead on Tuesday night but manager Neil Lennon will be glad that his side are back among the goals, following the 1-0 Scottish League Cup defeat by Championship side Morton in midweek.
Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston, still looking for his first win of the season, will be heartened by his side's spirit in a match that took place against the background of some rancour amid the home support.
Killie chairman Michael Johnston had upset the club's fans by giving Celtic season ticket holders - but not their own supporters - the chance to buy cut-price tickets for the game.
There was a small protest outside the ground before the game but those supporters who turned up were treated to a thrilling five-goal first half.
With one eye on Tuesday's match, Lennon brought back Commons, Samaras, Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews, Emilio Izaguirre and Anthony Stokes into the starting line-up but it was the home side who started more impressively.
Former Rangers striker Kris Boyd took stick from the Hoops fans behind the goal at the start of the game but he had a header saved by Hoops goalkeeper Forster in the third minute after he got on the end of a cross by Clohessy.
Minutes later, Boyd headed a Michael Gardyne cross from the left wide of the target.
Related Celtic News