FOOTBALL: Half Empty Paradise Hails Henrik; CELTIC 3 ST MIRREN 0

Article excerpt

TWO-GOAL Henrik Larsson and Momo Sylla spared the off-colour champions their blushes at Parkhead today to book their place in the fourth round of the Tennent's Cup.

The visitors - and especially inspired goalkeeper Ludovic Roy - had threatened to cause one of biggest shocks in the competition's history with the scores level at the break.

But after a month off and a sunshine break in Florida, the home side found their feet with Larsson taking his season's tally to 32 and Sylla completing a cruel scoreline on St Mirren.

John Coughlin's men were encouraged at the start by Celtic's missing stars and another sparse crowd of 29,276 after just 22,000 turned up for the Lisbon Lions tribute game.

Celtic were trying to blow away the cobwebs and Larsson certainly looked ring rusty when he failed to control Sylla's pass in the fourth minute.

The Saints fans were in good spirits, but their mood changed in the 11th minute when youngster Jamie Smith cut down Hugh Murray and was rightly booked by Charlie Richmond.

From Simon Lappin's resulting free-kick Magnus Hedman - who had recovered to keep new signing Javier Sanchez Broto on the bench - was far from convincing with his punch-out, but Celtic reacted quickly to clear the danger.

Recalled Everton and Leeds target Colin Healy should have scored moments later when the ball broke to him inside the box, but his right-foot shot came back off the upright with Roy well beaten.

Greig Denham added to the visitors' concerns when he was booked for a challenge on Sutton which saw the striker worryingly hobble off to be replaced by David Fernandez. …