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Balde stunner the highlight of easy win for Celtic

Celtic strolled into the final of the Turkish Airlines Antalya Winter Cup but will not have been in a hurry to get there.

Amido Balde is congratulated on his impressive goal by Celtic team-mate Joe Ledley. Picture: SNS
Amido Balde is congratulated on his impressive goal by Celtic team-mate Joe Ledley. Picture: SNS

They would have been happy enough to linger last night instead on a 3-1 victory over Trabzonspor registered inside the Antalya Akdeniz University Stadium and also on the Richter Scale. Striker Amido Balde thumped in Celtic's third goal so ferociously that the ball has been treated for shock.

There was perhaps some surprise at the Portuguese showing such assuredness when he shot from 20 yards after 57 minutes, since his Celtic career is considered to have misfired so far. Balde's goal followed earlier strikes from Teemu Pukki and an own goal from former Dunfermline Athletic and Hibernian defender, Sol Bamba. Ajax play Galatasaray tonight, with the winner meeting the Scottish champions in Sunday's final.

Neil Lennon introduced a number of less favoured players to his line-up last night; Lukasz Zaluska starting in goals, while Nir Biton, Derk Boerrigter, Pukki and Balde also came into the side. Youngsters Darnell Fisher and Joe Chalmers also both came on during the second half.

The trip to Turkey was designed to offer the Glasgow side an opportunity for warm-weather training at a slower pace, yet Pukki waited only until the half-hour mark put them ahead against Trabzonspor. The Finnish striker has still to find his feet at Parkhead but struck one right through the ball to rifle a powerful shot beyond goalkeeper Zeki Ayvaz from 18 yards out.

Pukki will be glad to have got off the mark and his goal fitted the rhythm of the match - Emilio Izaguirre and Boerrigter each going close with early efforts. Celtic had set the pace and it was increased intermittently by James Forrest, the Scotland internationalist unsettling the hosts with burst of pace in wide areas.

His side were playing with plenty of adventure and that was underlined when Virgil van Dijk strode out of defence and unleashed a rasping drive on goal. A deflection off a defender perhaps took the sheen off the move, but it at least forced Ayvas to make an excellent save.

The Trabzonspor goalkeeper could do little about Celtic's second goal, though, when Bamba turned the ball into his own net following a cross from Izaguirre. Emre Gural would manage to pull a goal back for the Turkish side just before half-time, yet any hopes of a comeback were batted away by the boot of Balde.

The forward had shown off his physical strength already when he won back possession on the halfway line before collecting a return pass from Pukki. Scampering clear, Balde elected to take an early strike and was only narrowly off target. He went close again with a chance after the break, while Kris Commons - one of three changes for Celtic at the break - lifted an ambitious chip just over the crossbar.

Balde ensured that his next shot found its way into the net, stepping forward to thump the ball beyond the motionless Trabzonspor goalkeeper.

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