JERMAIN DEFOE revealed Celtic’s scoring exploits – with 12 in their first two Premiership games – inspired his hat-trick in Rangers’ rollicking 6-1 triumph over 10-man Hibs at Ibrox yesterday.
The Gers romp came only three days after their 4-2 win over Erik Sviatchenko’s FC Mitjylland in the Europa League qualifier in Denmark in midweek to take Steven Gerrard’s outfit to double figures in two outings.
Asked if it was a case of responding to the Hoops’ goal rush, Defoe, speaking to BBC Sport, replied: “Of course, yes. You can’t ignore it – the way they’ve started and the amount of goals they’ve scored.
NUMBER ONE…Jermain Defoe tucks away the first of the hat-trick.
“It’s nice that we’ve won the game so convincingly.
“You don’t always have to score six or seven goals, though. It doesn’t really matter. It’s about getting three points.
“But it is nice to win in that way.
“It’s good for the fans as well as well as the new lads who’ve come in – to get goals and assists.
“It’s good for the confidence. We just want it to continue for as long as possible.”
NUMBER TWO…Defoe slots in the second at the near post.
Defoe, on loan from Bournemouth, took his tally to five for the season and 13 overall for the Ibrox side with his treble – and he admitted: “It’s nice to get my first hat-trick for the club. Right foot, left foot, header – a perfect hat trick.
“It’s a big day when I score a header!
“My last one was at Sunderland in the Cup three years ago. There’s been a few braces in there, though.
“As a forward, it’s always nice to score hat tricks and I’ve always liked keeping the match ball from day one.
“It’s my first one here and, hopefully, I can get more.
“I don’t think I’ve done the perfect hat trick before. I can’t remember – it’s been so long!
“It’s an amazing feeling, the best in the world to get three goals and the three points.”
NUMBER THREE…Defoe completes the hat-trick with a far post header.
Last season’s 30-goal man Alfredo Morelos started on the bench yesterday, but scored two as the Easter Road side, minus left-back Sean Mackie for most of the second-half, collapsed under the torrent of pressure.
At 36-year-old, Defoe added: “Would I be disappointed not to start the next game? Maybe when I was younger. Of course, you want to play as many games as you can, but the manager is smart enough to know the senior lads – and I don’t say older lads – have to be managed.
“It’s important, so you can put in those performances.”
PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM insisted his decision to bring on a forward did not result in the game turning into a rout for the home side.
Following Mackie’s red card, the Easter Road gaffer replaced star man Scott Allan with Florian Kamberi with the score standing at 2-1 – and then the roof caved in.
Heckingbottom, speaking to The Sun, said: “You’ve got to have a go, haven’t you?
“What are you going to do? Let it fizzle out to 2-1? It’s pointless. You’ve got to go for it.
“Listen, the shape isn’t the reason we conceded more goals. Us losing the ball in silly areas and not defending properly are the reasons we conceded more.
“The first part, at 11 v 11, is where we were second best for long spells.
“We were too passive.”
ANGELO ALESSIO, already under pressure at Kilmarnock, saw his team flop to their third successive defeat as they lost 2-0 at Hamilton, who had Brian Easton red-carded for a foul on Liam Miller.
Teenager Lewis Smith, on his first league start, and George Oakley scored in each half for the home side.
Killie, who finished third last season during Steve Clarke’s two-year reign, are now anchored at the foot of the table as well as being out of Europe following their shock dismissal from Welsh minnows Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Alessio, speaking to BBC Sport, said: “I’m very angry, very disappointed with the result. We conceded two stupid goals.
“We create some opportunities, but we could stay here two days and not score a goal.
“I hope in the next few days we take some players because this team needs other players. We have to complete this team. I am happy with the players I have, but in some roles we don’t have a solution.”
BRIAN RICE, the delighted Accies gaffer, also spoke to BBC Sport and added: “The effort the lads put in was sensational. We were down to 10 men for 35 minutes, we were hanging on, but we put bodies on the line and showed the old Hamilton spirit.
“Lewis has all the talent in the world. I need to try to find a place for him in the team; every day in training he’s exceptional. I just said to him: ‘I’m going to play you and give you the platform to produce’.”