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  Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Celtic trounce sorry Suduva
Henrik Larsson completes his hat-trick
Henrik Larsson returned to scoring form
Celtic 8-1 Suduva

Henrik Larsson answered his critics with a hat-trick as Celtic swept aside the challenge of Lithuanian minnows Suduva.

And it allowed the Swede to become the joint top scorer for a Scottish side in European competition, equalling Ally McCoist's 21 goals.

Celtic could even afford to play the dying minutes with only 10 men after Momo Sylla went off for treatment for an injury.

Larsson did the damage in the first half and Stilian Petrov and Chris Sutton provided the other goals before Suduva could gather their thoughts at the break.

Tomas Radzinevicius provided a consolation goal for the visitors in the closing moments, but by then Paul Lambert, John Hartson and Joos Valgaeren had added the icing to the Celtic cake.

The first half performance was absolutely scintillating
Celtic boss Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill and his side had gone into the tie haunted by their Champions League qualifying tie defeat by Swiss side Basel.

The consolation of the Uefa Cup appeared to do little to excite the Scottish champions or their fans.

But the visit of struggling Suduva offered the opportunity for Celtic to put that and some unconvincing performances in the Scottish Premier League behind them.

Hartson, who scored the only goal of the game against Hibernian on Saturday, was rewarded with a place on the bench as O'Neill made five changes and kept faith with an off-form Larsson.

Robert Douglas, Sutton, Lambert, Stilian Petrov and Sylla came in, with Hartson, Jonathan Gould, Jackie McNamara, Alan Thompson and Didier Agathe dropping out.

What O'Neill would probably regard as close to his first choice laid siege on the Suduva goal from the start as Sutton, Neil Lennon, Larsson and Petrov forced saves from Gytis Padihanskas.

The whole of Celtic Park breathed a sigh of relief in the 15th minute when Larsson finally hit the back of the net.

Sylla skipped away from Nerijus Devetinas and crossed for the Swede to fire home off the crossbar from close range.

Larsson provided his own answer to his critics when he scored his and Celtic's second in the 23rd minute, heading home Steve Guppy's cross.

Henrik Larsson celebrates his second goal
Henrik Larsson had been criticised
Petrov added another four minutes later with a stunning right-foot volley from Sutton's inch-perfect pass.

Sutton again turned provider and played Larsson through on goal for his hat-trick as the Swede coolly drew the goalkeeper before chipping the ball into the net.

Larsson repaid the favour nine minutes before the break, when he dummied Guppy's centre for former Chelsea and Blackburn striker Sutton to bundle the ball home from close range.

Lambert had the easiest of opportunities to head into the empty net after 50 minutes following a rare mistake by the Suduva goalkeeper.

Hartson was on the scoresheet again for the third successive game after 73 minutes, coolly slotting the ball past the Suduva goalkeeper.

Valgaeren got in on the act with eight minutes remaining when he headed home a Hartson cross from close range before Celtic eased off and conceded a sloppy goal at the death.

Celtic: Douglas, Valgaeren, Balde, Laursen, Sylla, Lambert, Lennon, Petrov, Guppy, Larsson, Sutton. Subs: Gould, McNamara, Thompson, Hartson, Fernandez, Agathe, Crainey.

Suduva: Padimanskas, Sendzikas, Suilauskas, Grigas, Devetinus, Kunevicius, Adomaitus, Zitinskas, Sidlauskas, Slavickas, Radzinevicius. Subs: Balnys, Klevinskas, Hctiulis, Andrius Larcenka, Saulius Kraipavicius, Stankevicius, Rukavicius.

Referee: M Liva (Czech Rep).

E-mail your reaction to Football Talk

BBC Five Live's Roddy Forsyth
"The contest was over by half time"
Celtic manager Martin O'Neill
"We will definitely go through"

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19 Sep 02 | Uefa Cup
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