Celtic 5-1 Hamilton: Odsonne Edouard scores opening weekend hat-trick as the Scottish champions are back with a bang to begin their title defence in comfortable victory at Celtic Park
- Odsonne Edouard opened the scoring with a composed finish in the 20th minute
- Jeremie Frimpong doubled Celtic’s advantage at the back post 11 minutes later
- Hamilton pulled a goal back in the 34th minute through Scott Martin
- Edouard scored twice in four minutes after half-time to complete his hat-trick
- Patryk Klimala scored a fifth for the Scottish champions in stoppage time
It wouldn’t be flag day at Celtic without a hat-trick. Twelve months ago Ryan Christie helped himself to three goals as Neil Lennon’s side swatted St Johnstone aside in a seven goal thrashing. Here the opponent and the goalscorer were different, the final outcome broadly the same.
For Celtic the key to ten-in-a-row lies in their ability to retain Odsonne Edouard. And days like this don’t help.
With most of Europe out of action the £9million Frenchman has an opportunity now to take centre stage. It’s one he accepted gracefully as he put Hamilton to the sword.
Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard scored a hat-trick in a convincing victory for Neil Lennon’s side
Edouard, celebrating here with Callum McGregor, scored his first goal in the 19th minute
CELTIC: Bain 6: Frimpong 8 (Elhamed 86 2), Jullien 6, Ajer 6, Taylor 7; Brown 6, Christie 7 (Dembele 86 2) : McGregor 7, Forrest 7, Elyounoussi 5 (Ntcham 70 3); Edouard 9 (Klimala 86 6)
Substitutes: Barkas, Bitton, Klimala, Soro, Rogic, Ntcham, Bolingoli, Elhamed, Dembele
Goals: Edouard 20, 49, 53, Frimpong 31, Klimala 90
HAMILTON: Fulton 7; Odoffin 5 (McKenna 71 3) , Hamilton 5, Want 5, McMann 5 ; Martin 6 , Callachan 6 (Trafford 71 3) , Hughes 4 (Ogkmpoe 42 5), Moyo 6: Winter 7.
Substitutes: McKenna, Trafford, Fjortoft, Mimnaugh, Munro, Gourlay, Smith, Owolabi
Goals: Martin 34
Booked: Martin, Callachan, Ogkmpoe
Referee: Willie Collum
Star Man: Odsonne Edouard
Celtic won’t hold onto him forever. But if Brendan Rodgers wants to buy the France under-21 international for a reputed £40m he might have to wait.
While the financial impact on Scotland’s champions of playing games behind closed doors is eye-watering, it’s hard to put a price on history.
Effusive in his praise after the game Neil Lennon said: ‘I think Odsonne has the potential to be anything he wants to be really.
‘His all-round game, he’s a fantastic player.
‘I’ve worked with all different types. Gary Hooper was a great goalscorer, Leigh Griffiths is a great goalscorer,.
‘I worked with Emile Heskey towards the end of his career and he’s right up there with any of them, no question.
‘He keeps re-writing his own story here at the minute.’
An Edouard treble was a little piece of normality on an otherwise strange day in Glasgow’s east end.
Unveiling a league flag would normally be an afternoon of pomp and ceremony. Pre-match fireworks and a Hamilton guard of honour, aside, an empty stadium made it a low key affair.
A young Hamilton team with an average age of 22 arrived in Glasgow’s east end with modest expectations.
Seventeen games had passed since October 2014 when they secured their only victory over the Parkhead club since 1938.
What impact the absence of supporters might make to Celtic and Rangers home games will be one of the season’s great intrigues. The quietest Celtic huddle in history broke up to artificial roars piped through the stadium Tannoy system. The false soundtrack fooled no one, least of all a Hamilton team who begun the game as if they meant business.
Celtic skipper Scott Brown walked out with the Scottish Premiership trophy before kick-off
Brian Rice will ponder how the game might have panned out if Accies had converted one of two excellent chances in the opening 10 minutes.
The first fell to the impressive teenage striker Andy Winter, the latest player off the academy production line. Son of former referee Brian, the 18-year-old’s thumping right foot shot after nine minutes forced keeper Scott Bain – preferred in goal to new £5m Greek international Vasilios Barkas – to push over.
Young Winter warmed to his surroundings. A delightful back heel allowed Livingston to switch the play, new Accies right back Hakeem Odoffin striding beyond Greg Taylor to cross for David Moyo. The striker’s soaring header sailed wide of the far post to anguished howls from the Hamilton directors. A team like Hamilton have few chances at Parkhead. After 10 minutes they’d blown two of them.
Inevitably, Celtic responded. Twice in the first 45 minutes central defender Christopher Jullien showed a hitherto disguised talent for volleying corners ferociously at goal. His first attempt ricochetted off the outside of the post.
Yet Celtic’s main threat came from the flanks where attacking full-backs Jeremie Frimpong and Greg Taylor were an absolute menace to the visitors.
Jeremie Frimpong (left) finished from close range for Celtic’s second goal of the afternoon
When Accies goalscorer Scott Martin clattered Frimpong to earn a booking it reflected the inability of the team in blue to curtail his energy and running. Even crude tactics didn’t work.
After 20 minutes a thrusting surge over the halfway line pierced Hamilton’s compact midfield, a pass to the left side picking out Taylor. The Scotland defender’s low cross evaded the Accies backline and keeper, providing an easy finish for Edouard’s first goal of the day. It wouldn’t be his last.
Celtic doubled their lead after half an hour, the goal a mirror image of the first with one key difference. This time Frimpong was the finisher rather than the provider.
One of the positions Neil Lennon is keen to strengthen before the window closes in October is left back. Opinions on Taylor, it’s fair to say, are divided.
Laying on both first half goals will do the £2.3m signing from Kilmarnock no harm at all. As with the first, Hamilton failed to deal with an inviting cross from the left flank. This time Frimpong rather than Edouard had the easiest of finishes from close range.
Frimpong celebrates his first goal of the season as Celtic took a two-goal lead early on
It was natural, then, to fear for Hamilton. As every opponent must, they had fulfilled the first part of the brief by turning up and playing without fear. And still they found themselves 2-0 down.
It was hard to begrudge them the large slice of fortune which dragged them back into the game before half-time, then.
It came after 34 minutes when midfielder Scott Martin’s low strike from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Christopher Jullien and wrongfooted Celtic keeper Bain.
When it seemed the day was settling into an old and familiar pattern the visitors left the pitch at half-time with a spring in their step. They were back in the contest.
It’s the hope that kills them, of course. Within four minutes of the restart, Celtic were home and dry.
Edouard (left) was in lethal form for the hosts as Celtic saw off their opponents on Sunday
Ryan Christie sent James Forrest scurrying down the right touchline, a perfectly weighted low cross inviting Edouard to nick in wrong side of young defender Jamie Hamilton and sweep the ball into the net from 10 yards for 3-1.
By the 52nd minute it was game over, a Ryan Christie shot from the edge of the area spilled at the feet of Edouard by Hamilton keeper Ryan Fulton. The result was inevitable.
If Hamilton thought Edouard leaving the pitch would end their torment they were wrong, Polish replacement Patryk Klimala claiming his first competitive strike for the club with a low angled strike in the final minute of normal time.
By time up, the new normal felt much like the old one.
Edouard slots his third goal of the game in the 53rd minute as Celtic ran away with it late on
‘It’s totally different with all the protocols set in place, the lack of atmosphere, and sometimes you have to generate that yourself.
‘You’ve got to work through that. We’ve been away for four months and you need that match rhythm, getting into the routine of training and playing again.
‘I felt we were a little bit undercooked going into the start as we hadn’t had enough games, through nobody’s fault. We’ve worked through it really well today.’
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