Football: Wright lightens Celtic gloom

By Calum Philip
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The Independent Online
IAN WRIGHT'S stand-up routine might be hard to match, but Celtic's new hero proved on Saturday that his stand-in routine is more than up to scratch too.

The former Arsenal and England striker found it just as easy to cut Kilmarnock down to size at Parkhead as he had in trimming the egos of a few people, notably his arch-critic David Mellor ("a failed politician"), just 48 hours earlier in the same stadium at his press conference which had hacks rolling in the aisles.

However, Wright provided the debut goal he and the 58,720 crowd craved when he hit the fourth in the 5-1 Premier League success over 10-man Kilmarnock. The man who really deserved the attention, Mark Viduka, found his hat- trick almost overlooked in the Wright hype, and the scale of the defeat was a travesty for Bobby Williamson's side, who crumbled after Martin Baker's pivotal sending off at 1-1.

It took until the 78th minute for Wright to find the net. Before then he had struck the bar, had a goal ruled offside and been lucky to stay on the pitch for a flying elbow which decked Alan Mahood: it was one man's career summed up in 90 minutes. But there was no denying that Wright lifted the gloom which had settled over Parkhead following Henrik Larsson's leg break and the midweek defeat by Motherwell which cost Celtic their place at the top of the table.

Rangers maintained their leadership of the League by also winning 5-1, away to Aberdeen, in a game which matched Celtic's in every way: they came back from a goal down, their opponents had a man sent off and they also had a hat-trick hero.

Jonatan Johansson saved the champions with his three goals, but until Paul Bernard was sent off in the 37th minute, an upset was on the cards. Thomas Solberg had given Aberdeen the lead with a 10th-minute penalty, and, although Johansson equalised before the break, it was not until Michael Mols' freakishly deflected shot in 65 minutes that the roof caved in.

Kevin Twaddle's second goal in four days moved Motherwell into fourth place with a 1-0 at home to St Johnstone. Dundee earned their first home win of the season against Hearts.

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