Celtic 3 Falkirk 0: Maloney adds dash of panache to return

Any doubts that Shaun Maloney had about how he would be received at Celtic Park have surely been banished. The prodigal son may not have scored on his second Celtic debut, but Maloney lit up the place and heard the sweet sound of his name echoing around the ground.

Maloney left under a cloud for Aston Villa 18 months ago, but an influential hour's contribution – making both of Georgios Samaras's goals with deft touches – means that Celtic are level with Rangers at the top of the SPL before next Sunday's Old Firm encounter here.

Gordon Strachan had two new signings to unveil and if Glenn Loovens was fortunate that an injury to Gary Caldwell provided him with a debut after his £2.5 million midweek move from Cardiff City, Maloney had to settle for a place on the bench.

Falkirk play crisp football and a delightful move down the right in the 18th minute ended with Scott Arfield conjuring up a volley that was beaten away by Artur Boruc. However, just before the half hour, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink was carried off after a bad lunge by Lee Bullen and that allowed Maloney to enter the fray.

It took him only two minutes to make an impact. The little striker was brought down by Gerard Aafjes and Shunsuke Nakamura whipped in a free-kick that was met by the stooping McManus and he bulleted the ball beyond Robert Olejnik.

Celtic doubled their lead in the 44th minute with a move which illustrated what Maloney can give them. The 2006 Scottish Player of the Year showed great pace to gather Mark Wilson's pass inside his own half and advance 40 yards before threading the ball to Samaras, who rounded Olejnik and found the net from a tight angle.

Maloney looked as if he would mark the occasion with a goal when Aiden McGeady released him after the break but Bullen did enough to distract him. Then a deft flick from Maloney set up Samaras but his tame effort was kept out by Olejnik. The Greek striker, though, atoned when he applied the finishing touch to a move which saw the ball transferred to every area of the pitch, before Scott Brown's pass was cheekily backheeled by Maloney into the run of Samaras and he advanced before drilling a low shot under Olejnik.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice