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Celtic put Hearts in their place

Celtic 4 Hearts 0: Celtic made a mockery of Hearts' Clydesdale Bank Premier League title credentials with a sound thrashing of the Tynecastle side at Parkhead.

Pre-match talk was of the third-placed Gorgie side challenging the Old Firm for the title but they never recovered after falling behind to a James Forrest goal in the seventh minute.

The Hoops created numerous chances in a powerful performance and a second-half double from Anthony Stokes and a goal from substitute Northern Ireland’s Paddy McCourt, on for the injured Forrest in the first half, cemented Celtic's place at the top of the SPL.

It was as convincing a performance as the Celtic fans have seen from their side this season as the hosts' defensive problems were forgotten.

Charlie Mulgrew was asked to team up with Thomas Rogne for the visit of the in-form Edinburgh side.

Rogne was the only recognised centre-back available to boss Neil Lennon and Mulgrew, normally a left-back, replaced Daniel Majstorovic who injured a hamstring against Aberdeen on Saturday.

Lennon made two other changes as Forrest, back from suspension, and midfielder Joe Ledley replaced Ulstermen Niall McGinn and McCourt, who both dropped to the bench.

Hearts, the last team to beat Celtic when they triumphed 2-0 at Tynecastle in November, arrived in Glasgow unbeaten in 11 SPL games.

The visitors had barely ventured up the park when Celtic took the lead in the seventh minute through Forrest.

A flick by Gary Hooper was picked up by skipper Scott Brown who drove forward before releasing the Hoops winger on the left side of the penalty area and he appeared to take Hearts goalkeeper Marian Kello by surprise when he lashed in an unstoppable shot from 16 yards.

The Tynecastle side were punished again in the 50th minute when Stokes struck with a wonderful free-kick. Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre was pulled back outside the Hearts box by Ismael Bouzid and from the set-piece, the former Hibernian striker curled the ball over Kello.

In the 71st minute Hooper raced clear on to a Beram Kayal pass only to be brought down by Marian Kello, leaving Stokes to tap into an open goal for his second.

In the 80th minute McCourt curled in goal number four from just inside the box.

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