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Celtic 5-1 Hamilton: Odsonne Edouard scores opening weekend hat-trick for the Scottish champions

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Celtic 5-1 Hamilton: Odsonne Edouard scores opening weekend hat-trick as the Scottish champions begin their title defence with comfortable victory at Celtic ParkOdsonne Edouard opened the scoring with a composed finish in the 20th minuteJeremie Frimpong doubled Celtic's advantage at the back post 11 minutes laterHamilton pulled a goal back in the 34th minute through Scott MartinEdouard scored twice in four minutes after half-time to complete his hat-trick Patryk Klimala scored a fifth for the Scottish champions in stoppage time

It wouldn't be flag day at Celtic without a hat-trick. Twelve months ago Ryan Christie helped himself to three goals as Neil Lennon’s side swatted St Johnstone aside in a seven goal thrashing. Here the opponent and the goalscorer were different, the final outcome much the same.

For Celtic the key to the ten-in-a-row lies in the retention of Odsonne Edouard. The £9million Frenchman finished last season’s curtailed campaign with a total of 28 goals. How many he might have claimed had the season finished is pure guesswork. Yet a clinical opening day treble suggests he has lost none of his hunger of finishing prowess.

Celtic won’t keep him forever. But if Brendan Rodgers wants to buy the France under-21 international for a reputed £40million he might have to wait. Whatever the financial impact on Scotland’s champions of playing games behind closed doors, it’s hard to put a price on a slice of club history. 

Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard scored a hat-trick in a convincing victory for Neil Lennon's side

Edouard, celebrating here with Callum McGregor, scored his first goal in the 19th minute

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS 

CELTIC: Bain 6: Frimpong 8 (Elhamed 86 2), Jullien 6, Ajer 6, Taylor 7; Brown 6, Christie 7 (Dembele 86 2) : McGregor 7, Forrest 7, Elyounoussi 5 (Ntcham 70 3); Edouard 9 (Klimala 86 6)

Substitutes: Barkas, Bitton, Klimala, Soro, Rogic, Ntcham, Bolingoli, Elhamed, Dembele.

Booked: n/a

HAMILTON: Fulton 7; Odoffin 5 (McKenna 71 3) , Hamilton 5, Want 5, McMann 5 ; Martin 6 , Callachan 6 (Trafford 71 3) , Hughes 4 (Ogkmpoe 42 5), Moyo 6: Winter 7.

Substitutes: McKenna, Trafford, Fjortoft, Mimnaugh, Munro, Gourlay, Smith, Owolabi.

Booked: Martin, Callachan, Ogkmpoe

Referee: Willie Collum

Star Man: Odsonne Edouard

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Sell him now and they could open the turnstiles tomorrow. Fans would find it hard to hand over their cash with directors guilty of playing ‘the ten’ at risk.

An Edouard treble was a little piece of normality on a strange day in Glasgow’s east end.

Unveiling a league flag should be an afternoon of pomp and ceremony. Hamilton’s guard of honour, aside, an empty stadium removed much of the sheen from the day.

A young Hamilton team with an average age of 22 arrived in Glasgow’s east end with modest expectations.

Seventeen games had passed since October 2014 when they secured their only victory over the Parkhead club since 1938.

This time it was different, of course. What impact the absence of baying home supporters might make to Celtic and Rangers home games will be one of the season’s great intrigues. 

Opponents are used to being cast in the role of Christians being thrown to the lions in Glasgow. Yet, for the foreseeable future the lions have lost their voices - if not their teeth.

The quietest Celtic huddle in history broke up to artificial roars piped through the stadium Tannoy system. The false sound fooled no one, least of all a Hamilton team who were unfortunate to be two goals down inside half an hour.

Brian Rice will ponder how different this game might have panned out had Accies converted one of two excellent chances in the opening 10 minutes.

The first fell to the impressive teenage striker Andy Winter, the latest of Hamilton’s academy graduates. Son of former referee Brian, the 18-year-old’s thumping right foot shot after nine minutes forced keeper Scott Bain – preferred in goal to new £5million Greek international Vasilios Barkas – to push over.

Celtic skipper Scott Brown walked out with the Scottish Premiership trophy before kick-off

Undeterred, young Winter warmed to his surroundings. A delightful back heel allowed Livingston to switch the play, new Accies right-back Hakeem Odoffin striding beyond Greg Taylor to cross for David Moyo. 

The striker’s soaring header sailed wide of the far post to anguished howls from the Hamilton directors. The visitors were coming closer.

Inevitably, Celtic responded. A low drive from James Forrest was pushed round the base of the post by Accies keeper Ryan Fulton. Twice in the first 45 minutes central defender Christopher Jullien showed hitherto well disguised talent for volleying corners ferociously at goal. His first attempt ricochetted off the outside of the post.

Yet Celtic’s main threat came from the flanks where attacking full-backs Jeremie Frimpong and Greg Taylor posed the visitors real problems.

When Accies goalscorer Scott Martin clattered Frimpong to earn a booking it reflected the inability of the team in blue to curtail his energy and running. Even crude tactics didn’t work.

Jeremie Frimpong finished from close range for Celtic's second goal of the afternoon

After 20 minutes a thrusting surge over the halfway line pierced the Hamilton shape, a pass to the left side picking out Taylor. The Scotland defender’s low cross evaded the Accies backline and keeper, providing an easy finish for Odsonne Edouard’s first goal of the season.

Celtic doubled their lead after half an hour. The goal was a mirror image of the first with one key difference. This time Frimpong was the finisher rather than the provider.

One of the positions Neil Lennon is keen to strengthen before the window closes in October is left-back. Opinions on Taylor, it’s fair to say, are divided.

Laying on both first half goals will do the £2.3million signing from Kilmarnock no harm at all. As with the first Hamilton failed to deal with an inviting cross from the left flank. This time Frimpong rather than Edouard had the easiest of finishes from close range.

Frimpong celebrates his first goal of the season as Celtic took a two-goal lead early on

It was natural, then, to fear for Hamilton. As every opponent must they had fulfilled the first part of the brief by turning up and playing without fear. And still they found themselves 2-0 down after half an hour.

It was hard to begrudge them the large slice of fortune which dragged them back into the game before half-time, then.

It came after 34 minutes when midfielder Scott Martin’s low strike from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Christopher Jullien and wrongfooted Celtic keeper Bain. 

When it seemed the day was settling into an old and familiar pattern the visitors left the pitch at half-time with a spring in their step. They were back in the contest.

Edouard was in lethal form for the hosts as Celtic saw off their opponents on Sunday

It’s the hope that kills them, of course. Within four minutes of the restart, Celtic were home and dry.

Like so much of what Celtic did in an attacking sense, the goal was sharp, clinical and sublime.

Ryan Christie sent James Forrest scurrying down the right touchline, a perfectly weighted low cross inviting Edouard to nick in wrong side of young defender Jamie Hamilton and sweep the ball into the net from 10 yards for 3-1

By the 52nd minute it was game over, a Ryan Christie shot from the edge of the area spilled at the feet of Edouard by Hamilton keeper Ryan Fulton. The result was inevitable.

Edouard slots his third goal of the game in the 53rd minute as Celtic ran away with it late on

But for the Accies keeper the final outcome would have surpassed the opening day rout of last season.

He produced two fine saves to deny Forrest effort and Jullien, new signing Odoffin also hacked a Callum McGregor header off the line.

If Hamilton thought Edouard leaving the pitch would end their torment they were wrong, Polish replacement Patryk Klimala claiming his first competitive strike for the club with a low angled strike in the final minute of normal time.  




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