Grant 8, Van Hooijdonk 26, 81 pen
Partick Thistle 0
PARKHEAD saw two significant moves towards a Celtic championship season yesterday. Once the game had begun Partick Thistle were undone by a Celtic side positively glowing with attacking football as they joined Rangers at the top of the league.
But that was after they had introduced their new signing, Jorge Cadete, who arrived as a free agent from Sporting Lisbon for the remainder of the season.
The Portuguese international striker was paraded before the game and as he stepped onto the pitch he lifted some blades of grass and kissed them. His debut could be in the old firm derby at Ibrox: the last time he faced Richard Gough and Andy Goram he scored twice as Portugal beat Scotland 5-0.
He answers the many calls for Celtic to buy an out and out striker but on this display you wonder where he will fit in. Celtic's movement and passing were impressive throughout the line-up and they were always looking to attack. It was 15 minutes before Gordon Marshall had to make a save.
The rousing introduction had stirred the Celtic blood and it took a matter of seconds for Andreas Thom and Simon Donnelly to combine, bringing gasps of anticipation. The Celtic supporters did not have long to wait before their gasps turned to roars of celebration.
Eight minutes in, Tosh McKinlay robbed Thistle fullback Kevin McKee and found Pierre van Hooijdonk by the front post. The striker played an intelligent and completely unselfish lay-off back to Peter Grant, whose low strike took a slight but significant deflection as it found its way into the net.
Celtic were always in command and while they lapsed into spells of inactivity they also burst into exhilarating attacks. On the half-hour, as Thistle attempted to clear a corner, McStay lined up a shot from outside the box. A right angle deflection left van Hooijdonk in yards of space but at a difficult angle towards goal. His brutal finish lifted the roof of the net before most of us had seen it leave his foot. It was as violent as the falling rain and Celtic's biggest worry now was an abandoned match.
Celtic could have sat on their lead but Rangers' goal margin is far superior so they continued to search for goals. The depth of their squad was shown when Danish international Morten Wieghorst came off the bench to replace John Collins. It was his home debut and his influence was great.
With 20 minutes remaining he galloped into the penalty area and Steve Welsh sliced him down. Van Hooijdonk converted the penalty with ease.
With only two minutes remaining the Scandinavian added one of his own from the same spot as the earlier foul. Fellow substitute Brian McLaughlin fed him into space and he calmly sidefooted past Nicky Walker for his first Celtic goal.
Rangers travel to Aberdeen today where they could easily fall and goal difference would be all that maintained their championship lead. Thistle now sit at the opposite end of the division.Reuse content