Three and easy
Not much of a contest from the East last night and a welcome three points added to the tally for the season. Gary Hooper was the man to thank last night as Celtic steamrolled Hibs into submission with a 3-1 win to re-claim the top spot in the SPL. The Englishman picked up a brace to add to Anthony Stokes opener to make life comfortable for the Hoops. A penalty for Hibs just after the hour mark gave the visitors from Edinburgh faint hope but the die was cast and the result was unaffected by Hooper missing the chance of a hat-trick from another penalty with six minutes to go. Celtic returned to action with the visit of Hibs with three changes from the side who lost the Co-operative Insurance Cup final to Rangers. Stokes, Glenn Loovens and James Forrest were all in the starting line-up, with Thomas Rogne, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons keeping the bench warm. Hibs went one better in the change stakes, with manager Colin Calderwood making four changes after their derby draw with Hearts at the weekend. Michael Hart, David Stephens, David Wotherspoon and Ricardo Vaz Te were all added to the opening line-up for the trip to the east end of Glasgow. Celtic could have taken the lead after 25 seconds when Hooper exchanged a one-two with Stokes before unleashing the shot that was blocked bravely by Mark Brown. Howver, just three and a half minutes later The Hoops were ahead when Emilio Izaguirre supplied the pass for Stokes to send an angled drive into the bottom corner. Celtic doubled their advantage with 20 minutes gone when Scott Brown was tripped in the box by Martin Scott and Hooper lashed the ball high into the net from the spot. Celtic were not content with the two goal advantage and looked hungry for more goals. Forrest saw his shot from the edge of the box blocked, before Izaguirre ended a lovely run by blasting well over. Celtic continued to press and Hooper supplied the cut-back for Stokes but he mis-kicked in front of goal and the chance was lost. Celtic had the net bulging again six minutes from the break, this time Hooper racing onto a Stokes pass before rifling home from six yards. Celtic swapped Loovens for Rogne at half-time before Hibs replaced the limping and largely ineffective Derek Riordan with Akpo Sodje. Neil Lennon's men still looked dangerous after the break and Hooper burst through on goal looking for his hat-trick but 'keeper Brown did enough to put him off. Izaguirre then exchanged a one-two with Hooper only to drag his effort across goal and narrowly wide of target. Hibs pulled a goal back after 66 minutes when referee Euan Norris adjudged Charlie Mulgrew had fouled Wotherspoon in the box. Miller held his nerve to convert from the penalty mark. Celtic could have ended any small hope Hibs had of a comeback when Stokes stood over a free-kick on the edge of the box but Brown saved well to tip the swerving effort past the post. Commons and Freddie Ljungberg were thrown into the action late on by Lennon. Ljungberg had an impact when he was felled by Paul Hanlon in the area with 84 minutes gone but Hooper blew the chance of a hat-trick when he fired wide from the spot.
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