Celtic 2-6 West Ham United
West Ham United ran in six goals in a pre-season goal fest at Celtic on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Scottish Premiership side 6-2.
The visitors scored three in each half, coming from 1-0 down to lead 3-1 at the break thanks to Michail Antonio’s double and a Mark Noble penalty.
Saïd Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen and Armstrong Oko-Flex got in on the act after the restart to round off a highly entertaining 90 minutes in Glasgow.
With 18,000 fans permitted back in Celtic Park for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, there was an air of anticipation in the atmosphere as the teams entered the pitch, and the game began at a fast pace.
With four minutes on the clock Antonio burst clear of the home defence, but was denied by goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas as he aimed for the far post.
Two minutes later the Scottish Premiership side had the lead, as Callum McGregor pinched possession off Manuel Lanzini and shaped his shot around Craig Dawson’s attempted block to leave Łukasz Fabiański helpless.
The chances kept on flowing at both ends, with Jarrod Bowen’s attempt to dink over Barkas being thwarted before Odsonne Édouard nodded wide when well-placed at the far post.
Having seen his first effort repelled by Barkas, Antonio wasn’t going to be denied when his second chance presented itself 23 minutes in.
Noble seized upon a poor pass from defender Dane Murray to release the No9, whose quick-feet left the goalkeeper grounded before knocking home.
Nine minutes later, Antonio had his second. This time Pablo Fornals laid the chance on, knocking the ball down the side for Antonio to outpace Anthony Ralston and exploit the gap left by Barkas at his near post and knock home.
West Ham kept the pressure on, and a foul by Ismaila Soro on Antonio seven minutes before the break gave Noble the opportunity to add a third from the spot.
It was a chance the Hammers’ reliable penalty taker would not pass up, sending Barkas the wrong way to slot into the bottom right-hand corner.
The entertainment didn’t let up in the second half, with Celtic striking first to briefly give themselves hope. Liel Abada delivered a cross from the right, and Ryan Christie’s close-range header had too much heat on it for Darren Randolph to keep out.
With 54 minutes played, the Hammers’ two-goal lead was restored. It was a delightful goal, too, as Antonio held the ball up expertly on half-way to release Fornals to his left. The Spain midfielder spotted Benrahma’s run on the right, and picked him out, with the Algerian doing the rest by sitting goalkeeper Scott Bain down and stroking home.
The Hammers’ pace on the break caused Celtic headaches all afternoon and they added a fifth 16 minutes from the end. Ben Johnson’s pass inside was helped on by Benrahma and Bowen’s flick was exquisite to take the ball inside the left-hand post.
There was still time for the visitors to add a sixth, as Oko-Flex – a summer arrival to the Academy from Celtic – found the bottom right corner with a shot across goalkeeper Bain.
Celtic: Barkas (Bain 46), Ralston (Urhoghide 55), Murray (Bitton 55), Welsh (Hjelde 55), Taylor (Montgomery 55), Soro (Rogic 55), McGregor (Shaw 55), Christie (Forrest 55), Turnbull (Henderson 55), Abada (Robertson 55), Édouard (Griffiths 55)
Subs: Doohan, Bolingoli, Connell
Goals: McGregor 6, Christie 51
West Ham United: Fabiański (Randolph 46), Fredericks, Dawson (Alves 77), Ogbonna (Diop 5), Cresswell, Noble (Forson 87), Lanzini (Coventry 66), Bowen (Holland 87), Fornals, Benrahma (Oko-Flex 77), Antonio (Johnson 72)
Goals: Antonio 23, 32, Noble pen 38, Benrahma 54, Bowen 74, Oko-Flex 85