GLASGOW (AFP) - Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has hailed his Antipodean attacking duo after they combined to keep his side top of the Scottish Premier League on Saturday.
While Australian international Scott McDonald will hog the headlines, thanks to his second hat-trick for the club in the 3-0 win over Motherwell, New Zealand striker Chris Killen also played his part.
Melbourne-born McDonald has now scored an amazing 11 goals in 15 games since joining from Motherwell in the summer and has became a firm favourite with the Parkhead club's supporters.
With only one goal to his name Killen has not made the same sensational start since his move from Hibernian.
However, Strachan believes his display on Saturday was vital to his side and to McDonald.
And the Celtic manager believes Killen can perform the same target man role as Dutch international Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink - currently out with a hamstring injury.
Strachan said: "Scott's hat-trick was great for all of us, but he wouldn't have managed it without Chris Killen playing up alongside him who I thought was excellent.
"Scott could not have played the way he did, or score the goals he did last year without Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink playing alongside him.
"We can now play the way I like playing with Killen in the team so I would even say he was the most important player in the team against Motherwell."
With McDonald having made such an explosive start to his Celtic career, Stachan admits he has been pleasantly surprised by the 24-year-old's ability and hopes he can continue his terrific form.
"Scott has been fantastic for us," said the Celtic boss. "From the first days of pre-season in Switzerland I thought to myself, 'you're decent'. We knew he was a good player but from his very first training session our expectations were high.
"You can only judge someone by their time at the club and at the moment things are going well for him."
Although McDonald has made such a fantastic start to the season Strachan preferred to start with Killen for Wednesday's 1-0 defeat against Benfica in the Champions League.
However, the Celtic coach believes McDonald needed a rest after a series of tough matches and his decision seemed to be justified by the Australian's performance on Saturday.
Strachan said: "I would love to have played Scott McDonald from the start against Benfica but he's had a lot of hard games and there were other strikers ready to come in.
"The priority is always the SPL for us so I don't need to justify my decision to anyone."
Although Motherwell had made a bright start in Saturday's game, and created several chances to open the scoring, Celtic slowly gained the upper-hand and fully deserved their lead in the 42nd minute.
Japanese international Shunsuke Nakamura found McDonald at the front post with an inswinging corner and he duly headed past the stationary Motherwell goalkeeper Graeme Smith.
In the 58th minute a fantastic pass from Lee Naylor split the Motherwell defence to send McDonald in on goal and the Australian international coolly slotted the ball through the legs of Smith to double his side's advantage.
And in the 87th minute McDonald completed his terrific treble after being fouled in the penalty box by defender Stephen Craigan.
The little forward picked himself up to slot the ball into the bottom right-hand corner and complete the victory for his side.
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