Scottish Premier League

Samaras treble boosts Celtic

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Georgios Samaras grabbed a hat-trick as Celtic warmed up for the visit of Barcelona in midweek with a 5-2 win over Kilmarnock in their Scottish Premiership clash at Rugby Park.

The visitors raced into a three-goal lead in 26 minutes through a Kris Commons strike and a Samaras double but Killie midfielder Sammy Clingan, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury, reduced the deficit with a great free-kick before defender Sean Clohessy made it 3-2 just before the break.

The second half by comparison was an anti-climax with the home side never really threatening to draw level before Samaras sealed the win in the 87th minute with a header and substitute Amido Balde, on for Teemu Pukki, scoring a fifth two minutes later.

Celtic will be tested more in their Champions League Group H clash with the Catalan giants at Parkhead on Tuesday night but manager Neil Lennon will be glad that his side are back among the goals, following the 1-0 Scottish League Cup defeat by Championship Morton in midweek.

Kilmarnock boss Allan Johnston, still looking for his first win of the season, will be heartened by his side's spirit in a match that took place against the background of some rancour amid the home support.

Killie chairman Michael Johnston had upset the club's fans by giving Celtic season ticket holders - but not their own supporters - the chance to buy cut-price tickets for the game.

There was a small protest outside the ground before the game but those supporters who turned up were treated to a thrilling five-goal first half.

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