Hooper fires Celtic back to top

GARY HOOPER claimed a double as Celtic reclaimed top spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a comfortable win over Hibernian last night.

Rangers had leapfrogged their Old Firm rivals to the summit a day earlier but their lofty status was short-lived.

Dubliner Anthony Stokes set the ball rolling before Hooper converted from the penalty spot and claimed his second shortly before the break.

Cork’s Liam Miller pulled a goal back from the spot for Hibs before Hooper passed up the chance of a hat-trick from another penalty.

The Hoops were ahead after four minutes when Emilio Izaguirre supplied the pass for Ireland international Stokes and he sent an angled drive into the bottom corner.

Celtic doubled their lead with 20 minutes gone when Scott Brown was tripped in the box by Martin Scott and Hooper lashed high into the net from the penalty spot.

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 Glenn Loovens for Thomas Rogne at half time before Hibs replaced 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 Mark Brown saved well.

Hibs pulled a goal back after 66 minutes when referee Euan Norris ruled Charlie Mulgrew had fouled David Wotherspoon in the box. Miller then held his nerve from 12 yards.

Kris Commons and Freddie Ljungberg were thrown into the action late on and the Swede 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.

Elsewhere, Motherwell beat Dundee United 2-1 while St Mirren beat Aberdeen 3-0.

CELTIC: Forster, Wilson, Loovens (Rogne 46), Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Brown, Kayal (Ljungberg 82), Ledley, Forrest (Commons 78), Hooper, Stokes.

HIBERNIAN: Brown, Hart, Stephens, Hanlon, Booth, Wotherspoon, Miller, Scott (Stevenson 72), Palsson, Vaz Te (Thornhill 73), Riordan (Sodje 51).

Referee: Euan Norris.

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