- 5 vs 167. A number which holds such a special place in the Hearts of every Celtic fan worldwide. Today however, it took on a new meaning, at least until the next domestic outing for the Hoops. Thanks to a fantastic hat-trick from Odsonne Edouard and a double from substitute James Forrest, Rodgers' men swept aside Motherwell inside Celtic Park to make it an incredible 67 games unbeaten in Scottish competition.
Edouard (16', 33', 85'), Forrest (76', 88')/Frear (65')
Saturday 2nd December, 2017
Not only was the scoreline emphatic in the end, but the overall performance from a Celtic side missing several key faces - either through injury or simply being rested - was commanding. From the kick off, it seemed as though they were keen to inflict a heavy 'doing' upon Stephen Robinson's outfit, with both sides facing off against one another for the 3rd time this week, incredibly, with no shortage of controversy throughout.
The surprise inclusion in the starting XI would end up being the shining light for the Hoops, with young striker Edouard taking his chance impeccably, hitting his first ever professional hat-trick in front of a healthy Paradise crowd. The Frenchman has had to be patient for his opportunity to impress, and little wonder with both Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths ahead of him in the pecking order for much of this season. Having scored on his debut against Hamilton at the beginning of the season, he has found game time very hard to come by since, but was thrown in today with Moussa injured, and Griffiths seemingly being rested ahead of the mid-week showdown against Anderlecht in the Champions League.
Rodgers had said that he would get his chance at various points throughout the season, having clearly only being brought in on loan as a 3rd option up top, little is really expected of the youngster in any case. Today though, he showed what he is capable of. From his hold up play, to his movement and of course, finishing in front of goal, he was faultless. His first came on 15 minutes following an excellent ball across the box by Scott Sinclair, who had earlier been played in by an even more precise pass by Olivier Ntcham, another Frenchman who was outstanding for the duration of his 67 minutes on the field. Edouard however was on hand to tap home and get the Celts on their way. The second was more of an individual goal, with him picking the ball up around 30 yards from the Motherwell goal, and slowly squaring the backline up, before taking a very well place driven shot into the bottom right hand corner. With 33 minutes on the clock, the game seemed over.
The game would remain under Celtic's control, with the Hoops creating a number of opportunities, constantly retaining the ball and probing the Well' defence. However, the 3rd didn't come until after the Steelmen had found their own way back into the match, following their very first shot on target. Many Celtic fans may point the finger at Craig Gordon for this one, as he was ultimately indecisive about coming for an insiwinging cross into the 6 yard box, which evaded the entire Celtic defence, allowing Frear to ghost in and get the deftest of touches to deflect it into the net. Despite the home sides clear dominance, there was now only 1 goal separating them from the visitors.
Edouard drills home his and Celtic's 2nd
The word 'panic' does not seem to be in Rodgers' dictionary, however and Celtic would soon find themselves back in cruise control, with the Motherwell goal seeming only to anger his side. The manager was pertered enough however to make a couple of changes, with regulars McGregor and the on-fire James Forrest entering the play prior to 70 minutes. It was the latter who would ultimately seal the game for Celtic, with a decisive 3rd goal. It was one which you could nowadays class as 'trademark James Forrest', with the winger cutting inside onto his supposedly weaker left foot and guiding the ball into the bottom corner, eerily reminiscent of his opener in the League Cup Final nearly a week ago.
The Scottish international has found a new lease of life under Rodgers, and has certainly proved many Hoops fans wrong with his form in recent times, myself included. He would get on the scoresheet once again, but not before Edouard had his 3rd and final say of the afternoon. His hat-trick would come courtesy of a howler of a back pass from Motherwell's Tate, as the full back aimed to nod the ball simply back to his keeper, Celtic's number 22 sniffed a chance to seal a perfect day and did so, clinically poking the ball through Carson's legs in goal. It was the very least the Frenchman deserved and will work wonders for his confidence, with him now arguably staking a big claim for a starting place mid-week. I mean, how can you ignore a performance like that?
Edouard, Hayes and Ntcham celebrate the young striker's hat-trick
The 5th, as mentioned, was James Forrest's to claim. Once again it was a trademark finish, this time with the outside of his boot and into the bottom corner as we have seen so often. It sealed a very convincing win from the Champions, with Rodgers and the players showing their appreciation for the support following the game with a lap around the park. 67 and counting, bring on the Belgians.