Kilmarnock 1 Celtic 5: Samaras an instant hero for classy Celtic

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The Independent Online

If the principle behind an influx of new recruits is to inspire a reaction from the squad, then Gordon Strachan's flurry of transfer activity was richly rewarded yesterday as Celtic swept Kilmarnock aside to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

Only one of the five acquisitions made by the Celtic manager was on the pitch, Georgios Samaras, who came off the bench to mark his debut with the final goal in the fifth-round rout. The cup-tied Barry Robson sat in the stand with new Japanese acquisition, Koki Mizuno, Andreas Hinkel and Ben Hutchinson. However, the mere presence of newcomers in the wings, prompted the best performance out of Strachan's side for months as they looked in no mood to relinquish the Scottish Cup.

The most notable was Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, who gave the hosts a torrid time as he outmuscled his markers, clubbed in one venomous finish and set up two for Scott McDonald.

Goalkeeper Alan Combe had denied Vennegoor of Hesselink with a wonderful parry after 14 minutes and defied McDonald with a firm one-handed stop before the dam burst.

After 22 minutes, Vennegoor set up McDonald, but the ball broke to Shunsuke Nakamura, who backheeled for the debutant right-back Paul Caddis to cross for McDonald to score at the near post.

On the half-hour, Vennegoor headed against the post and McDonald's follow-up was cleared off the line by Simon Ford. Then Martyn Corrigan almost equalised with a raking shot that Artur Boruc turned wide, but as the second half progressed Kilmarnock were ripped apart.

Gary Caldwell doubled Celtic's lead in the 52nd minute, as he met Massimo Donati's flick from Nakamura's corner to head into the roof of the net. Vennegoor struck five minutes later, profiting from a fine pass by Aiden McGeady and thumping a 16-yard shot high past Combe.

Jamie Hamill did manage a riposte when he met Danny Invincibile's cross in the 65th minute to head home, but within 60 seconds, Celtic had scored again. Vennegoor rounded Combe and then unselfishly set up McDonald who stroked his second into an empty net.

Samaras then replaced McDonald and the on-loan Manchester City striker made an instant impact, scoring in the 85th minute with a curling left-foot finish after cutting in from the right.

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