Bhoys blitz Falkirk to stay three clear

JAN Vennegoor of Hesselink netted his second goal in five days as Celtic comfortably maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League last night.

Gary Caldwell blasted a 29th-minute opener after a slow start by the Hoops and both Vennegoor of Hesselink and Stephen McManus hit the bar just before the break.

Celtic controlled the second half and Aiden McGeady and Darren O’Dea netted after Vennegoor of Hesselink had notched his fourth goal of the season.

However, the victory came at a cost as Georgios Samaras limped off and Scott Brown picked up a yellow card which could rule him out of the last Old Firm derby of the season.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was happy with his side’s victory.

“I’m delighted with the way we played when we were 1-0 up,” Strachan said.

“There were few chances before the goal but we played well after that. Sometimes you can be nervous when it’s only 1-0 but we didn’t look nervous.

“We had a lot of good performances. Aiden was special and I thought Jan was absolutely terrific. He was a threat.”

Samaras limped off in the 14th minute after an innocuous challenge by Steven Pressley and Vennegoor of Hesselink, who ended a barren spell of more than six months during Saturday’s 4-0 win over Hamilton, entered the fray.

Celtic went ahead after referee Willie Collum harshly ruled that Kevin McBride pushed McGeady in the corner. Scott McDonald headed Shunsuke Nakamura’s free-kick across the face of goal and Caldwell blasted the ball home from close range.

The hosts got the cushion they wanted in the 62nd minute. Mallo missed Nakamura’s cross and Vennegoor of Hesselink bundled the ball home from four yards.

Celtic killed off Falkirk’s resistance as McGeady scored in the 78th minute when he beat Holden and fired into the bottom corner from 18 yards.

O’Dea further boosted Celtic’s goal difference in the dying moments by sidefooting home McManus’ cross.

CELTIC: Boruc, Hinkel, O’Dea, McManus, Caldwell, Scott Brown, Nakamura (McCourt 82), Crosas, McGeady (Mizuno 88), McDonald, Samaras (Vennegoor of Hesselink 16).

FALKIRK: Dani Mallo, McNamara, Scobbie (Holden 46), Barr, Pressley (Bullen 20), McBride, O’Brien, Arfield, McCann (Moffat 84), Higdon, Finnigan.

Referee: W Collum (Scotland).


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