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Celtic pass minor test with flying colours

Cwmbran Town . . 0 Celtic . . . . . . . . . . 6 aCELTIC had the job done and dusted before we had time to say butchers, bakers et al. A goal in two minutes, of course, is inclined to dampen any ambitions of said butchers, bakers, etc, and that was how it turned out.

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By the finish it was six going on 10. The end product is a cruise into the first round of the UEFA Cup, as the second leg at Parkhead in a fortnight is no more than an exercise canter. The Cwmbran player-coach Mark Aizlewood summed up his club's feelings at the end, saying: ''For the second leg I think we will have to bring in brickies and brick up the goal. ''As a player who has played at the top level and knows how difficult it is to do, I have to say that any team that finishes above Celtic will have to be a damned good side.'' His opposite number, Celtic manager John Barnes, gave credit to the Welsh team for the way they tried to make things as difficult as possible. ''They man-marked some of our players and we always knew it could have been an awkward night, but the early goal was a boost for us.'' How teams like the courageous but woefully outclassed Welsh side come to be in the same tournament - at any stage - is another question, but the night was one of fun and laughter for their few fans in the 9000 crowd. And why not? For them it was a very special occasion. They even announced that the after match party was to be held in Brannigans in town . . . and all were invited. Unfortunately, I think, some of us could not make it. With this being the first competitive start of the season for Alan Stubbs, Bobby Petta, and Craig Burley, the qualifying jaunt to Cardiff was a very worthwhile enterprise, especially for Stubbs, who insisted that his future at Parkhead will be decided once he has fully recovered from his cancer operation and is challenging for a regular place in the first team. ''At the moment I want to concentrate on trying to get into the team, and that won't be easy. It was good to get the game, ideal for me, and I feel great. I feel I'm on a par with everyone else now. All I can do is play and the manager has to make the decisions.'' Referring to his recovery, he said that the supporters' encouragement when they sent faxes, cards, and letters was overwhelming. ''I want to support them by playing as well as I can.'' No one had a bad night, which is not all that surprising, but Berkovic was particularly effective, scoring the first goal and having a hand in a few others. His opener, a searing shot from 22 yards, set the pattern and it in due course was followed by Henrik Larsson with two goals, Olivier Tebily with a single, and Mark Viduka and his late substitute Harald Brattbakk with one apiece. Believe it or not it could easily have been more. None the less, the green and white hordes were content enough as they headed into the night . . . and Brannigans. The Welsh side did their best even before the game started to blunt the Celtic edge, narrowing the pitch by four metres and watering the ground (there had been a heavy rainfall early in the morning). It was to no avail as the litany of goals was begun inside the opening two minutes. A Larsson header had already been touched over the bar by Pat O'Hagan before Berkovic stepped in to start the party for the Celtic fans, many of whom, in any case, had been well into their celebrations before a ball was kicked. Cwmbran, to their credit, did not haul out the white flag at that point. In fact, they managed a couple of attacks of their own, one of which led to a corner being unimpressively cleared by Gould and cleared properly by Stubbs. However, they were having a hard time when Celtic did go into top gear and the only surprise about the second goal was that it was 17 minutes longer before it came. A short corner by Berkovic, on the right this time, was chipped high to the far post by Burley and when Viduka nodded it into goal there was Tebily with an easy job to help it over and score his first competitive goal for the Parkhead club. No.3 came in after 32 minutes. Berkovic - yes, him again - took a free kick and there was Larsson diving to head it past the game but beleaguered O'Hagan. Celtic had Reggie Blinker on for Petta at the start of the second half, but it was Mark Viduka who produced the next goal. His clever, bending shot nearly beat O'Hagan, but the keeper did well to parry it. However, Larsson retrieved the ball and laid it in front of Viduka, who had a simple job to shoot home. John Wills was booked after he downed Riseth and then the keeper could only parry a Mahe drive but was able to rescue the situation this time. However, the fifth goal was about due and it was another worked by Viduka, whose pass to Larsson allowed the Swede to divert it comfortably past the keeper. Now we had reached the point where many in the crowd (and in the press box) were checking their bookies' lines to see how many goals they had invested in for a Celtic win. Nervous moments lay ahead. Viduka hit the post among a string of attacks, including two which brought serious penalty claims, as the Cwmbran side showed visible signs of leg weariness. There were some more bizarre happenings around the Welsh goal, but with nine minutes left Celtic took off Viduka as well as Larsson and brought on Harald Brattbakk and Tommy Johnson. Three minutes later the Norwegian had popped in goal No.6 from a pass by Berkovic. CWMBRAN - O'Hagan, Wills, John, Blackie, O'Brien, Dyson, Wigley, Moore, Evans, Graham, Summers. Substitutes: Morris, Aizlewood, Thomas, Pattimore, Goodridge, Hughes, Sturch. CELTIC - Gould, Ruseth, Stubbs, Tebily, Mahe, Burley, Berkovic, Lambert, Petta, Larsson, Viduka. Substitutes: Wieghorst, Kerr, Healey, Johnson, Blinker, Brattbakk. Referee - M Ross (Northern Ireland).

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