GEORGIOS Samaras helped himself to a hat-trick as Celtic brushed past Inverness with ease in their Co-operative Insurance Cup third-round tie at Parkhead.
The Greek striker showed why manager Neil Lennon is looking to offer him a new contract with an impressive night’s work albeit against a poor Caley side.
He notched either side of Gary Hooper’s first competitive goal for the Hoops since signing from Scunthorpe in the summer to ensure the tie was all over by the interval.
Samaras, who also struck the bar in the first half, made sure of the match ball in the 57th minute when he showed commendable fighting spirit in the box before driving past Jonny Tuffey, whose performance actually prevented the score being even more demoralising for the visitors.
As the Highlanders crumbled further, Dubliner Anthony Stokes scored from the spot in the 73rd minute, after he had been brought down by the Caley goalkeeper, before he drove in a wonderful 25-yard drive to complete the thrashing.
CELTIC: Forster, Wilson, Majstorovic, Loovens, Izaguirre (Mulgrew 12), Juarez, Sung-Yong Ki,
Ledley (Luque Crosas, 66), Samaras (Maloney, 75), Hooper, Stokes
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE: Tuffey, Proctor, Tokely, Golabek (Foran, 46), Cox (Roy McBain, 60), Duncan, Munro, Sutherland, Shinnie, Hayes, Ross
Referee: McDonald, D
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