Celtic 3 Falkirk 0: Maloney makes hero's return to Parkhead

Ronnie Esplin
Monday 25 August 2008 00:00

Celtic's returning hero Shaun Maloney won the man-of-the-match award against Falkirk after an 18-month absence then pinpointed team-mate Aiden McGeady as a star Parkhead player.

Maloney left for Aston Villa in January 2007 but became a Hoops player for the second time on Friday after manager Gordon Strachan ended his miserable time in the Midlands by handing him a four-year deal.

The 25-year-old came on as a first-half substitute for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink at Celtic Park on Saturday after the Dutchman was left crumpled in a tackle by Bairns defender Lee Bullen.

Almost instantly the Scotland player made an impact, winning a free-kick from which Stephen McManus bundled home his 31st-minute opener.

Maloney set up Georgios Samaras for an easy second goal which effectively clinched the points before the interval.

Strachan's side turned on the style after the break, with McGeady and Shunsuke Nakamura vying with Maloney for the top billing but it was the former Villa player who cleverly set up Samaras for the Greece international striker's second goal.

But Maloney, who often kept a younger McGeady out of the side during his first spell at Celtic Park, praised the Republic of Ireland wide man for the improvements made in his game over the last year and a half.

He said: "I knew how good Aiden was when I left but he has improved a hell of a lot. He has pretty much everything now, the final delivery, the shot or pass, he has that end product to his game now. And he scares the life out of defenders when he starts running at them."

Maloney's return to Parkhead may have come at a vital time as Strachan could be without his first-choice strike force for next week's Old Firm game.

Scott McDonald missed the visit of the Bairns with an abductor injury and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink's injury will be assessed over the weekend.

Falkirk manager John Hughes was unhappy at conceding the first goal, claiming McManus had handled Nakamura's free-kick on its way into the net.

Hughes, whose side have lost their opening three SPL games, tried not to be too downbeat: "I will take the positives out of it. One or two of our young players got a taste of it and sometimes to blood one or two you have to take a hit."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in