Sinclair hat-trick sees Celtic edge seven-goal thriller at Aberdeen

Glasgow (AFP) –


Scott Sinclair scored a hat-trick as Celtic struck twice in the final four minutes to beat Aberdeen 4-3 in a Boxing Day thriller and ensure they go into Saturday's Old Firm derby against Rangers top of the Scottish Premiership.

Sinclair opened the scoring after just six minutes but Celtic were soon pegged back by Stevie May's penalty and it stayed 1-1 until a frantic final 14 minutes produced five goals.

Victory takes Brendan Rodgers's men four points clear of Rangers, who host Hibernian on Wednesday.

Celtic had started without a natural striker with Leigh Griffiths taking an extended break for personal reasons and Odsonne Edouard only fit enough for a place on the bench.

The 20-year-old Frenchman was introduced 20 minutes from time and made a huge impact to hand the champions a vital victory.

Edouard freed James Forrest down the right to tee up Sinclair to turn home his second of the afternoon from close range on 74 minutes.

There was little doubt over Aberdeen's first spot-kick when Emilio Izaguirre chopped down May, but the visitors were furious when referee Willie Collum pointed to the spot again six minutes from time when Graeme Shinnie went down under pressure from Mikael Lustig and Sam Cosgrove converted.

Edouard won the game by first chipping a deft finish into the top corner three minutes later. Then he skipped past two Aberdeen challenges before squaring for Sinclair to tap in for the hat-trick.

There was still more drama to come, though, as Lewis Ferguson reduced Aberdeen's deficit to one and with the final kick of the game James Wilson volleyed over the chance to snatch a point.