An Aiden McGeady hat-trick inspired an overwhelming win over Falkirk at Parkhead last night which moved Celtic five points clear of Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League. "He has done that [played brilliantly] against the AC Milans of this world so he really has to be pleased with himself," said the Celtic manager, Gordon Strachan.
The hosts seized the early initiative and Scott McDonald soon turned that into the lead by winning and converting a ninth-minute penalty. The Australian collected a clever pass from McGeady and sprinted forward before he was brought down by Kenny Milne.
McGeady hit Celtic's second in the 41st minute when he collected McDonald's cutback 15 yards out and fired a left-footed shot in off the post. Falkirk's hopes vanished after the break with Darren Barr's second yellow card for hauling back the 21-year-old.
Celtic went for the kill and the Irishman curled a right-footed effort into the corner of the net before sealing his display by slipping the ball past Tim Krul.
Celtic (4-4-2): M Brown; Caldwell, Pressley (O'Dea, 77), McManus, Conroy; McGeady, S Brown (Sno, 84), Donati, Hartley; McDonald, Vennegoor of Hesselink (Killen, 80). Substitutes not used: McGovern (gk), Zurawski, Riordan, Jarosik.
Falkirk (4-4-2): Krul; Aafjes, Barr, Milne, Holden; Thomson, Cregg (Riera, 67), Arfield, Moutinho; Higdon (Latapy, 74), Barrett (Scobbie, 66). Substitutes not used: Olejnik (gk), Ross, Finnigan, Moffat.
Referee: D McDonald.