Thom beats drum

Celtic 4 van Hooijdonk 16, Thom 25, 40, Donnelly 87 Raith Rovers 1 Duffield 67 Attendance: 47,200
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The Independent Online
Manchester United may have their Theatre of Dreams but Celtic's ever-changing arena may have to be dubbed the Theatre of Screams from now on.

The volume from Britain's biggest crowd of the day, some 47,200, tested the decibel level to the limit in Parkhead's first competitive fixture this season as Tommy Burns's team overran Raith Rovers.

The completed venue should have seats for 60,000 spectators and if Andreas Thom continues in this sort of form he will fill them all. The German international scored two and made another for Pierre van Hooijdonk, with Simon Donnelly adding a late goal, to give the home side a boost in confidence for Tuesday night's Uefa Cup tie with Slovakian side Kosice.

Thom's virtuoso performance lasted only 64 minutes before he departed the stage because of badly blistered feet, but it brought the house down.

The Celtic manager Burns was later moved to praise his attacker, saying: "He is in a rich vein of form right now but apart from his goals, Andreas is also taking a lot of responsibility . . . He is becoming a leader."

Thom rescued a point for Celtic last week at Aberdeen on the opening day of the Premier Division season and after 16 minutes he created the opener in this encounter, when he split Raith's defence to set up Jorge Cadete, who unselfishly squared the ball for van Hooijdonk to find the net.

Nine minutes later, Thom stretched Celtic's lead with a sublime goal. The ball broke free to Morten Wieghorst, after Grant and Dennis collided, and the Dane's pass released Thom, who strode on before crashing a 22- yard shot past the goalkeeper Scott Thomson.

In the 51st minute, Thom procured another, hooking in Tosh McKinlay's free-kick as he lay unmarked at the back post and Celtic threatened to take poor Raith apart. The visitors' substitute, Peter Duffield, reduced the deficit when he fortuitously converted Daniel Lennon's cross in the 67th minute, but Celtic had the last word as Thom's replacement, Donnelly, finished off what Cadete could not, with just three minutes left.

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