Edouard’s hat-trick puts Celtic gem back in the shop window
Celtic are already on course to establish an epochal record, despite manager Neil Lennon telling his players to suppress any talk of 10 successive titles and concentrate on dealing with Hamilton Academical in the inaugural fixture of their Scottish Premiership campaign.
The champions, thanks in part to an Odsonne Edouard hat-trick, did so in such ruthless fashion that it would not be a huge surprise if they led the table from start to finish.
The sense of unshakable continuity was established before the game, when the Accies squad formed a guard of honour for the Hoops as they walked onto the pitch for the presentation of the championship trophy for 2019-20.
Scott Brown emerged bearing the silverware and brandished it in front of 60,000 empty seats, while the stadium announcer boomed, “Make some noise for the Bhoys,” while hitting the button on a recording of the Parkhead faithful in much noisier days.
Edouard’s hat-trick inside the hour put Celtic on the first step towards the putative 10-in-a-row.
Yet this was not a rollover of supine opponents. The Accies were lively and inventive, at least until half-time, by which point they trailed by only a single goal. But they were vulnerable to Celtic’s strength in the wide positions, as demonstrated by Greg Taylor on the left when his cutback supplied Edouard with a simple tap-in for the opener. The left-back then set up Jeremie Frimpong for 2-0 in almost identical fashion.
Hamilton hit back soon afterwards, when Scott Martin’s delivery clipped Christopher Jullien to spin beyond Scott Bain into the net.
Whatever ambition Brian Rice’s side harboured after the interval was crushed almost as soon as the second half got under way when James Forrest was next to provide Edouard with a freebie, with a cutback from the right.
Ryan Christie forced the opening for goal No 4 with a shot which
Ryan Fulton blocked, only for the rebound to fall perfectly for the predatory Edouard to rifle home his third.
Patryk Klimala, a late replacement for Edouard, emphasised Celtic’s domination by taking a pass from Jullien and holding off Jamie Hamilton’s challenge before shooting beyond Fulton in the dying seconds of normal time.
The one concern for Celtic’s followers is that Edouard’s performance simply emphasises his value to the team, a factor that can only encourage potential suitors.
Hamilton’s consolation, meanwhile, is that they fielded a young team who can quarry wisdom from the manner of their errors, as Rice reflected afterwards.
“I am disappointed to lose five goals, but Hamilton will not be judged in games against Celtic,” he said. “There was a bit of naivety there and Celtic didn’t have to work too hard for it, but there is belief in that dressing room and, although we lost heavily, we’ll get better.”
Predator: Celtic’s Odsonne Edouard beats Hamilton goalkeeper Ryan Fulton to score the second goal of his hat-trick at Celtic Park