Newcastle Utd 4 Celtic 1

Last updated : 27 July 2007 By Footy Mad - Editor
NEWCASTLE: Given, Carr, Huntington, Ramage, Rozenhal, Solano, Geremi, Butt, Milner, Luque, Martins. Subs: Harper, N'Zogbia, Taylor, Edgar, Pattison, Troisi, Carroll, Krul.

CELTIC: Boruc, Caddis, Kennedy, McManus, Naylor, S Brown, Hartley, Donati, McGeady, Zurawski, Vennegoor of Hesselink. Subs: Miller, Balde, Riordan, Gravesen, Pressley, Jarosik, M Brown, McDonald, Killen, Irvine.

Sam Allardyce, who has been trying to shift Luque to pastures new during the summer, promised him a chance to prove himself all over again after a couple of deals fell through.

He and Obafemi Martins combined to put United 3-0 up at the break as Celtic fell apart and their defence couldn't handle the pace of the two strikers.

Celtic tried to stem the tide in the second half, and were helped by Allardyce making mass substitutions that killed off a great game, and the visitors scored on 72 minutes through Scott Brown with a consolation strike. But James Milner made it 4-1 at the death.

The majority of Celtic fans arrived at lunch time and filled the bars around Gallowgate and Central Station, making the city a colourful sight.

They were part of a superb crowd of 30,225 for a friendly match, and watched a superb first-half - if you were a Geordie of course. 

Geremi and Nicky Butt looked good in midfield, and Solano did superb work down the right. All in all, a very enjoyable evening as Celtic were outclassed.
Newcastle were without Michael Owen, Joey Barton and Shola Ameobi, all injured, and Mark Viduka is just back from international dut. The omission of Kieron Dyer had many believing we have seen the last of the England international.

Allardyce admitted yesterday that the 28-year-old midfielder is set to leave, and the Toon manager ... and the majority of the fans ... won't be losing much sleep over it.

We have a new era with a new owner, a new chairman and a new manager in place, and the future indeed looks bright. All we need now is a decent defence, and on this showing it highlighted how a good side would have ripped us apart. As it happens, this was arguably the poorest Celtic side I have seen for years.

They are a big fish in a "two club league", and this performance showed how they would not last five minutes in the Premiership.

Luque has had a dismal two years since his £9.5million move from Deprtivo La Coruna, but perhaps he can learn from Nicky Butt, who also had the fans on his back at this period of the season last year. The ex-Man Utd had returned from Birmingham after failing to win over the Blues fans and we expected "more of the same" from him. But he put in two brilliant performances in pre-season friendlies and it saved his career. He has not looked back.

Martins set the Toon on their way with a 11th-minute lead thanks to a right-foot shot that squeezed past the goalkeeper. Then the Spanish international fire home from Milner's cross on 29 minutes, then did the same three minutes before the break with Nolberto Solano this time supplying the cross.

Shay Given was only called into action when he had to tip Aiden McGeady's deft 33rd-minute shot over the bar, and United back-line was never in full control. But Celtic made it easy for them.

Luque made way for Andy Carroll at the break as Allardyce made four changes, and but for a miskick in front of goal the newcomer might have announced his arrival with a fourth within five minutes.

Defender John Kennedy's careless 55th-minute back-pass let Carroll in with substitute goalkeeper Mark Brown rescuing his team-mate.

Vennegoor of Hesselink fired well wide under pressure from half-time arrival Steven Taylor on 59 minutes, but Milner left Lee Naylor for dead to drill a shot just past the far post two minutes later.

Midfielder Scott Brown set off on a mazy 67th-minute run and crossed to the near post as the visitors looked to save face, but David Rozehnal was on hand to clear.

However, Brown got his name on the scoresheet when he headed McGeady's 72nd-minute cross past Given.

Celtic finished strongly as Allardyce continued to make changes - reserve keeper Steve Harper played the last 11 minutes as a striker - and Given denied Brown a second after he was played in by substitute Kenny Miller.

But Milner wrapped up the win with an excellent last-minute strike with Harper playing a key role in the build-up. Sadly Taylor limped off as Newcastle finished the match with only ten men.