Celtic flounder as Cissé gets off the mark for Liverpool

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The Independent Online

Fiercely proud of their record against English opposition, Celtic will go into tonight's game against Manchester United in Philadelphia fearing a third heavy loss to a Premiership side in five days. Having made 10 changes to the side that started the 4-2 defeat by Chelsea on the north-west coast, they crossed the country and lost 5-1 to a lively Liverpool, for whom Djibril Cissé scored twice.

Fiercely proud of their record against English opposition, Celtic will go into tonight's game against Manchester United in Philadelphia fearing a third heavy loss to a Premiership side in five days. Having made 10 changes to the side that started the 4-2 defeat by Chelsea on the north-west coast, they crossed the country and lost 5-1 to a lively Liverpool, for whom Djibril Cissé scored twice.

Those were the French striker's first goals for the club. So was Stephane Henchoz's volley, though he has waited a little longer - five years to be precise, having been one of Gérard Houllier's first signings. Cissé was the last one, his signature secured at a cost of £14m during the winter transfer window.

Houllier's successor Rafael Benitez was particularly pleased with the way Cissé linked up with Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy in midfield, the latter providing two neat passes for his goals, while Gerrard sought to exploit the new man's pace with familiar long diagonal balls.

Celtic were two-down in 16 minutes, and Benitez must have been wondering if this was the same club that gave his Valencia such trouble in the Uefa Cup three seasons ago. "To score five goals is very good for our match against a team of this level," he said diplomatically. "The players are understanding little by little the things I want."

The Scottish champions, meanwhile, are understood to be continuing negotiations with Henri Camara, the striker refusing to rejoin Wolves.

Scottish observers present were struggling to recall the last occasion they had conceded nine goals in two games, though the assistant manager John Robertson said: "I'm not going to sit here and criticise the team in pre-season friendlies."

Goals: Riise (4) 0-1; Owen (16) 0-2; Cissé (62) 0-3; Henchoz (68) 0-4; Beattie (72, pen) 1-4; Cissé (75) 1-5.

Celtic (4-4-2): Marshall; Cuthbert (Petrov h-t), Varga, Valgaeren, Laursen (Lennon h-t); McGeady (Agathe h-t), McNamara, Thompson (O'Dea 78), Pearson (Wallace 63); Hartson (Sylla 63), Fernandez (Beattie h-t).

Liverpool (4-4-2): Kirkland; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia (Henchoz h-t), Riise; Smicer (Murphy h-t), Hamann (Gerrard h-t), Biscan (Diao h-t), Kewell; Owen (Cissé h-t), Baros (Sinama-Pongolle h-t).

Referee: A Prus (US).

Booked: Celtic: Thompson.

Attendance: 24,271.

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