Celtic stir memories of European glory

Celtic 4 Dynamo Batumi 0 (Celtic win 7-2 on aggregate)
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The Independent Online

reports from Celtic Park

Celtic 4 Dynamo Batumi 0 (Celtic win 7-2 on aggregate)

If we should know more about Celtic's immediate prospects in the Cup- Winners' Cup at the second-round draw in Geneva today the future is less certain for John Collins, their skilful midfield player. As the new Celtic Park hosted its first European tie, Collins was left to watch the action from the stands, fuelling speculation that he will shortly be leaving the club he has served for five years.

It would be stretching the imagination to suggest Celtic turned back the clock to those classic European nights, but this was a comfortable win against a mediocre team.

We will have to wait until a better class of opposition visits Glasgow before Celtic's hopes of progressing in Europe can be properly assessed but there are signs of the regeneration of Celtic under Tommy Burns.

With Brian McLaughlin performing like a latter day Jimmy Johnstone, tricking his way past defenders, and Andreas Thom providing a sharp cutting edge their partnership tore holes in the Batumi defence allowing Celtic to settle the tie virtually within 20 minutes.

Thom sank a powerful downward header past Nikoloz Togonidze, a fragile- looking goalkeeper, from Tosh McKinlay's free-kick in the 18th minute, and two minutes later the crowd rose to acclaim a goal of real class.

McLaughlin skipped past two challenges before lifting a teasing ball into the path of the incoming Thom whose firm header left the goalkeeper helpless.

Within two minutes of the restart Celtic had increased their lead. Simon Donnelly, who has revelled in the additional space available to him since his conversion from a striking role to midfield, drove forward with the ball at his feet before firing in a powerful 30-yard shot off the underside of the crossbar.

The goal was a final effort from Donnelly before he was taken off to a hero's reception to ensure, no doubt, his fitness for tomorrow's Old Firm game. Celtic also took off their foreign imports, Thom and Pierre Van Hooijdonk.

Andy Walker, the substitute, missed a glorious chance to score when he saw a 76th-minute penalty saved by the keeper, but in the final minute he atoned, scoring Celtic's fourth goal.

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; Vata, Hughes, Boyd, McKinlay; Donnelly (Hay, 56), McStay, Grant, McLaughlin; Thom (Gray, 71), Van Hooijdonk (Walker, 62).

Dynamo Batumi (4-4-2): Togonidze; Shanidze, Shekiladze, Makharadze, Mindadze; Phutkaradze (Glonti, 60), Torgashuili, Kantidze (Makharadze, 45), Mujiri; Ujmajuridze, Tugushi.

Referee: G T Orrason (Iceland).