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  • McGregor the hat-trick hero as stylish Celts lift the Dafabet Cup

    McGregor the hat-trick hero as stylish Celts lift the Dafabet Cup

    By: Laith Al Naeme in Sunderland on 29 Jul, 2017 17:26

  • Dafabet Cup
    Stadium of Light, Sunderland
    Saturday July 28, 2017


    (McGregor 5, 15, 58, Hayes 38, Armstrong 70)

    CALLUM McGregor bagged a hat-trick as Celtic turned on the style to sweep aside Sunderland 5-0 and lift the Dafabet Cup at the Stadium of Light.

    The midfielder scored twice in the opening 15 minutes with composed finishes as the Hoops dominated the early exchanges, and a well-executed volley from Jonny Hayes had them 3-0 up at the interval.

    McGregor completed his treble from the penalty spot just before the hour-mark after Anthony Ralston had been felled by former Celt Aiden McGeady in the box.

    And Stuart Armstrong rounded off the scoring with a fine finish from 20 yards, before Kieran Tierney, captain for the day, lifted the silverware aloft, much to the delight of the huge travelling support on Wearsde.

    Tierney, skippering his boyhood heroes from the start for the first time, was one of only five survivors from the Scottish treble-winners’ UEFA Champions League stalemate with Rosenborg on Wednesday.

    The game had a pulsating start with Celtic racing out the traps and five minutes into the game the visitors were gifted the lead as McGregor capitalised on a defensive error.

    Four minutes later, at the other end, Dorus de Vries had to be alert following a James Vaughan header. The Hoops stopper saved well, though.

    But the next opportunity fell to Celtic, and again, the Bhoys made no mistake. After dazzling pieces of play from James Forrest, Scott Sinclair and McGregor, the latter tucked the ball home for his and the Hoops’ second.

    Olivier Ntcham then began to cause the Sunderland defence problems, but he was denied by goalkeeper Luke Steele in the 28th minute after some silky play outside the box.

    Celtic kept up the pressure and a minute later McGregor came inches away from netting his hat-trick, his left-footed strike crashed off the post.

    The hosts struggled to deal with the Hoops’ early energy and failed to carve out any real opportunity in the opening stages of the match.

    Their biggest chance of the first-half came in the 35th minute after Ntcham was penalised for a foul in his box. However, de Vries brilliantly saved James Vaughan’s penalty and then reacted superbly to block the rebound, preventing the striker from grabbing a goal back for Sunderland.

    The Scottish champions kept up the high tempo and scored the third in the 38th minute. Following some lovely attacking work from Ntcham, the Frenchman’s effort couldn’t be held by Steele and Hayes stepped up from close-range to volley home.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side started the second-half brightly and took 13 minutes before hitting their fourth. Ralston won Celtic a penalty following a driving run into the box and McGregor remained calm to slot away his hat-trick.

    The visitors’ defence was finally tested again in the 68th minute following a Sunderland free-kick but Tyias Browning failed to keep his header on target.

    And it was a set-piece training ground move that then allowed the Hoops to score another as two of Celtic’s second-half substitutes combined to good effect. Nir Bitton found Armstrong at the edge of the box and he fired the ball into the corner.

    As the Dafabet Cup reached its conclusion, there were to be no more goals as Celtic coasted through the closing stages, and attention will now turn to Wednesday night’s crucial UEFA Champions League qualifier away to Rosenborg. 

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): De Vries; Ralston, Ajer (McCart 72), Tierney (Hill 61), Miller (Benyu 72), Kouassi (Aitchison 83), Ntcham (Armstrong 46); Hayes (Rogic 46), McGregor (Henderson 78), Sinclair (Bitton 46), Forrest (Ciftci  61)
    Not Used: Gordon, Hazard


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