McDonald's treble puts Celtic in fine fettle for Milan visit

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The Independent Football

The first hat-trick of Scott McDonald's professional career sent Celtic back to the top of the Scottish Premier League on Saturday and gave Gordon Strachan hope that his side's firepower can cause trouble for Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday.

McDonald, 24, an Australian international forward who has played for six British clubs and joined Celtic from Motherwell in the summer, had never netted a treble before the 3-0 weekend home win over Dundee United.

Those goals took Celtic's league goals tally to 27 in eight matches, and Strachan believes such fluency in front of goal can only help when the Italian Serie A side visit Parkhead this week. "Last year we found it very hard to make chances," he said. "This season we have made numerous chances so that is the satisfying thing as well as getting a good result before we play Milan."

Strachan is already likely to be without Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink after the Dutchman was forced off before half-time on Saturday with a hamstring strain.

Celtic head the SPL on goal difference from Rangers, who could only manage a 1-1 draw at Motherwell on Saturday. The hosts' Chris Porter scored his fifth goal of the season before Kris Boyd equalised with a penalty. Rangers' preparations for tomorrow's Champions League match at Lyon have been disrupted by injury to Jean-Claude Darcheville, who limped off after coming on as a second-half substitute.

The SPL's only unbeaten record this season remains intact after Hibernian eased to a 4-1 win over Kilmarnock to stay one point behind the Old Firm in third place. Hibs' Clayton Donaldson, 23, who signed from York in the summer, scored a hat-trick, two of the goals coming from three penalties earned by him.