Larsson hat-trick banishes talk of crisis

Crisis, what crisis? Henrik Larsson continues to mock those who perceive his powers to be waning. The drought that critics spoke of has merely produced a flood of goals.

The Celtic striker's hat-trick yesterday meant he has now found the net seven times in the last three games. More importantly, he also laid on two for Chris Sutton to underline to Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers, who visit next Sunday, that they are not ready to relinquish their title.

Kilmarnock had not won at Parkhead since 1955, but they chose the wrong week to try to alter that statistic. With that first Old Firm contest of the season so close, Celtic had already adopted the ruthless mindset required for Glasgow's tribal encounter.

Had the visitors taken a clear chance after just seven minutes, then things might have been different. However, Paul Di Giacomo's profligate header from just six yards, after Peter Canero had won a battle of strength with Momo Sylla before delivering an intelligent cutback, let the champions off the hook. Within four minutes Kilmarnock were punished.

Steve Guppy eschewed his normal role as provider from the left flank by rolling the ball back to Neil Lennon, whose low left-foot cross picked out Larsson at the near post for the Swede to angle a right-foot volley past the goalkeeper, Gordon Marshall.

Celtic's hunger was evident. The movement supplied by Martin O'Neill's team meant Kilmarnock's defenders were pulled in every direction. It was that work ethic which underscored Celtic's second goal after 15 minutes. Larsson played a fine reverse pass into Chris Sutton, with Stilian Petrov making a crucial decoy run to drag markers the other way, allowing Sutton the space to clip a right-foot shot past Marshall.

With a comfort zone established, Robert Douglas incurred the wrath of his team with a sloppy kick-out straight to Alan Mahood, whose venomous long-range return had to be touched away by the sprawling Celtic goalkeeper.

No one else had plans to loosen the grip. Celtic stretched their lead further in the 21st minute when Larsson collected his second goal. Guppy's well-disguised corner found Paul Lambert outside the box and his chip to the back post was returned by the towering Bobo Balde for Joos Valgaeren to head against the crossbar; Larsson had the relatively easy task of heading in the rebound.

Kilmarnock tried to claw themselves back into the game, but when Ally Mitchell's low shot from Di Giacomo's knockdown was superbly held by Douglas, the scale of their second-half task was ominously clear.

The tempo, naturally, dropped after the interval, though the friction rose as Kilmarnock stemmed the tide at the expense of robust tackling, notably from Mahood, who managed to upset Larsson's cool demeanour when the pair were involved in an eyeball-to eyeball confrontation.

Larsson, though, never loses sight of the real prize, goals. His vision created Celtic's fourth goal when he robbed Jesus Sanjuan in the 66th minute as the defender dwelt on the ball, and raced away towards Marshall. The striker rounded the goalkeeper, but instead of finishing himself, he unselfishly provided a cut-back which Sutton rammed through the ruck of defenders on the line.

Marshall later prevented Larsson from collecting his third by bravely diving at his feet, but when Shaun Maloney's driving run was abruptly halted inside the box by Chris Innes in stoppage time, the Swede gratefully thrashed in the penalty.

Celtic 5 Kilmarnock 0
Larsson 11, 21, 90, Sutton 15, 66

Half-time: 3-0 Attendance: 57,469

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week