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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 18:08 GMT
Rampant Celtic thump Pars
Henrik Larsson scores the second of his three goals
Henrik Larsson scores the second of his three goals
Celtic 5-0 Dunfermline Athletic

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A first-half hat-trick for Henrik Larsson put Celtic on their way to an easy victory over Dunfermline Athletic.

The runaway Scottish Premier League leaders could even afford the luxury of another penalty miss from the Swedish striker as they made it 12 goals in three games against the Pars this season.

This time Celtic went in at half time four up, John Hartson adding the other strike as they quickly erased memories of that CIS Cup defeat by Rangers in midweek.

Didier Agathe hammered home the fifth midway through the second half.

Dunfermline captain Ian Ferguson missed the game through injury and his experience was badly missed.

John Hartson celebrates his goal
John Hartson scored the third goal
But it was Martin O'Neill's decision not to replace Hartson with fit-again Chris Sutton that paid dividends.

Sutton was instead given a starting place in defence, with Joos Valgaeren being rested.

Dunfermline looked like they might exploit that early on, with recent signings Seyni N'Diaye and Michael Panopoulos instrumental as Celtic were pinned back in their own box.

But Celtic had the chance to open the scoring after only four minutes when Youssef Rossi nudged Hartson in the back when the Welsh striker was poised to head home from five yards.

Scott Thompson pulled off a superb, one-handed save and twice came to the rescue at the subsequent corner to deny Bobo Balde and Larsson.

The other Scott Thompson had been hailed this week as a potential Scotland defender by team boss Jimmy Calderwood.

But he and his defence consistently displayed slack marking and Celtic took the lead after 13 minutes when Balde knocked the ball back into the six yard box from a corner and the unmarked Larsson headed home.

Dunfermline still looked dangerous coming forward, but the closest they came to a goal threat was a Steve Crawford volley from the edge of the box that was well held by Robert Douglas.

Didier Agathe holds off Youssef Rossi
Didier Agathe holds off Youssef Rossi
Celtic went further ahead after 32 minutes when Larsson slipped in front of defender Thompson at the back post to knock a Hartson cross over the line.

The match was killed as a contest six minutes later when Hartson was first to react to a Larsson free-kick that deflected off the wall and Thompson was beaten by the low drive from 16 yards.

Hartson set up Larsson for the fourth two minutes before the break, the Swede driving the ball in off the far post from the edge of the box.

Calderwood was clearly unhappy at the commitment of Rossi and the Moroccan international was replaced with Lee Bullen at half time.

Dunfermline were more secure after the break, but they could not prevent Agathe adding the fifth with a thundering drive after 73 minutes.

Celtic: Douglas, Balde, Sutton, Mjallby (Crainey 74), Agathe, Lambert, Lennon (Smith 60), Moravcik (Maloney 74), Thompson, Larsson, Hartson.

Subs Not Used: Gould, Petrov.

Dunfermline: Scott Y Thomson, MacPherson (McGroarty 78), Skerla, Rossi (Bullen 45), Scott Thomson, Nicholson, Mason, Panopoulos, Dair, Crawford, N'Diaye (Nish 60).

Subs Not Used: Harrower, Nicholls.

Booked: Rossi.

Attendance: 58,590

Referee: J Rowbotham

BBC Scotland's Alistair Alexander
"An easy win for Celtic"
Celtic boss Martin O'Neill
"We want to win the championship"
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