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Sunday, 9 December, 2001, 16:41 GMT
Celtic demolish Dunfermline
Balde opened the scoring at East End Park
Joos Valgaeren congratulates scorer Bobo Balde
Dunfermline 0-4 Celtic

Celtic continued their relentless march to a second successive SPL title with a comfortable win over Dunfermline at East End Park.

Bobo Balde opened the scoring early on with his second goal for the Parkhead club, John Hartson pitched in with a brace and Alan Thompson added a spectacular fourth.

A 13th league victory in a row for Martin O'Neill's men maintains Celtic 12 point advantage at the top of the table.

Dunfermline, who had the worst goals against record in the SPL before kick off, drop to 11th place after another afternoon of woeful defending.

The visitors were without the injured Chris Sutton, Bobby Petta and Lubo Moravcik.

But double goal hero of last weekend Hartson returned to the Celtic attack alongside Henrik Larsson, who had shrugged off injury, along with Thompson and Steve Guppy.

Thompson gets to grips with Larsson
Dunfermline were totally over-run
Dunfermline manager Jimmy Calderwood made one change from the side which drew with Hearts last Saturday with Gus MacPherson returning from injury to replace Justin Skinner.

Celtic scored with their first chance in the eighth minute when the Dunfermline defence stood and watched Balde easily head Stilian Petrov's corner home from close range.

A minute later Celtic were almost celebrating again, when Hartson sent Larsson away on goal, but the Swede's first touch was poor and Marco Ruitenbeek was quick off his line to clear.

Celtic went close to scoring in the 10th minute when Stilian Petrov's angled drive came back off the post.

Hartson looked in the mood and he should have scored in the 18th minute when Paul Lambert picked him out, but he headed wide of the upright from six yards.

But the Welshman made no mistake in the 20th minute when he coolly side-footed Guppy's cross past Ruitenbeek from close in.

John Hartson found the net twice
Hartson was on target twice
Celtic were in complete control of the game and could have added to their tally, but Larsson struck the post from just a few yards out and a Guppy shot flew past.

A slack Hartson back pass caused a few problems for Celtic keeper Robert Douglas but Balde appeared to make a clearance from Stevie Crawford's weak shot.

Dunfermline saw more of the ball at the start of the second half but they could do little to penetrate the Celtic defence.

The contest was well and truly over on the hour mark when Hartson grabbed his second goal of the afternoon - nodding home another excellent Petrov corner.

Two minutes later, Dunfermline's misery was compounded when Thompson let fly with a superb left foot volley after Larsson's free kick had been charged down and the ball whistled past Ruitenbeek for a fourth time.

With the home side in tatters, Hartson had a couple of chances to grab a second hat-trick in Celtic colours but could not add to his haul.


Dunfermline: Ruitenbeek, MacPherson, Skerla, Scott Thomson, Ferguson, Hampshire, Mason, Nicholson, Petrie, Bullen, Crawford. Subs: Harrower, Dair, Skinner, McGroarty, Nish.

Celtic: Douglas, Mjallby, Valgaeren, Balde, Lennon, Lambert, Thompson, Guppy, Petrov, Hartson, Larsson. Subs: Gould, Sylla, McNamara, Maloney, Smith.

Referee: A Freeland

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Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"The first goal settled us down."
Dunfermline manager Jimmy Calderwood
"We couldn't get through them at all."
Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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