Kilmarnock hat-trick shows Samaras can take up Celtic mantle

The forward is hitting form at just the right time for Neil Lennon’s team

Before Saturday, Georgios Samaras’ last hat-trick for Celtic had come back on September 22nd, 2010 when Alexandra Burke topped the UK singles charts, but after his showing at Kilmarnock the Greek star has gone some way to showing that, unlike the X Factor winner, his golden touch remains.

In a defensively patchy showing against Killie, Samaras was the undoubted star of the occasion, taking each of his three goals with ease and displaying all of the physicality and aerial ability that make him such an asset to Celtic – both in the SPFL and Champions League.

Indeed, any question marks over whether the forward would start against Barcelona this week appear to have been answered, with Neil Lennon similarly enthused by the Samaras show at Rugby Park.

It was a welcome return to form for the Greek star, ending Celtic’s own mini-drought in front of goal, with the Bhoys failing to score in 120 minutes of play against Morton in their midweek League Cup encounter.

Samaras had also endured a  barren spell, with his last goal coming in the second-leg of their Champions League qualifier against Shakhter Karagandy, with the 28-year-old’s form in Europe proving pivotal to the Bhoys prospects in recent times.

The former Manchester City man scored five times away from Celtic Park in Europe’s Premier club competition, including one against Barcelona at the Nou Camp, as the Bhoys surprised one and all by reaching the last-16.

Neil Lennon will therefore be hoping the Greek star has put his slow start to the campaign behind him with the hat-trick against Kilmarnock as Celtic prepare to welcome the La Liga champions back to Parkhead.

He was certainly full of praise in the immediate aftermath of the game, describing Samaras as “world-class” ahead of this key Champions League encounter.

"You can talk about the standard of SPFL football or this and that but when you see a player play as well as that, no matter the standard, you can tell that he is a top-class player,” he said.

Samaras now needs to kick on and do something he hasn’t done since the 2009-10 SPFL season – reach double figures for league goals. Fail to do that and Lennon could turn to newly-acquired target man Amido Balde, who also got on the scoresheet against Kilmarnock.

Just don’t be surprised to see Samaras pop up with a goal or two in the Champions League.

image: © celticphotos

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