The reigning champions, in second place, took on the current league leaders at home. Celtic were four points behind capital club Hearts heading into this encounter in Glasgow.
Having lost to Hearts at Tynecastle in league action in August, they eased past them at Murrayfield in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
Celtic were unchanged following the demolition of Dundee on Halloween. Hearts, however, made four changes following their frustrating 0-0 derby day draw with Hibs at Tynecastle. Demetri Mitchell, Harry Cochrane, Jake Mulraney and Steven MacLean (fresh from his rather hilarious suspension) all started in place of Ben Garuccio, Olly Lee, Oliver Bozanic and Callumn Morrison.
Christie at the heart of the early action
Ryan Christie would have the first opportunity of the match, receiving from Odsonne Edouard. Having scored against Hearts in the Betfred Cup semi-final, the playmaker was looking to haunt the Jambos once. Unfortunately, he shot to Bobby Zlamal’s right. Routine save for the Czech shotstopper.
He would have another bite at the cherry shortly after that. Callum McGregor found Christie on the edge of the area who fed out wide to Kieran Tierney. The young full back getting forward as he so often does, sent an inviting cross in. And, after Jimmy Dunne cleared onto Clevid Dikamona, the ball bounced off the centre back and to the feet of Christie, shooting just wide of the mark on this occasion.
Edou-ard to keep quiet
It wasn’t long before the Hoops were in front. Callum McGregor, pulling the strings in midfield throughout the 90, shipped out wide to Scott Sinclair. The winger’s first touch was a poor one but as he recovered and cut inside, found Edouard on the edge of the box.
After shifting past Peter Haring on the edge of the area, the young Frenchman crashed a shot off the underside of the bar and in. Zlamal was left with no chance as Celtic edged in front on 18 minutes. The club record signing’s 10th goal in 20 appearances this season in green and white.
Two easy for the Hoops
Just eight minutes later, Celtic would double their advantage. Callum McGregor’s corner kick finding the head of Filip Benkovic and the young Croat grabbed his first goal for Celtic. The 6ft 4” centre back putting his aerial presence to good use, evading his marker and nodding past Zlamal in goal as Celtic doubled their advantage. Shambolic defending from a Hearts perspective. It was certainly not what we’re accustomed to seeing from them under Craig Levein’s stewardship.
Celtic could’ve and probably should’ve been three up shortly after. Dedryck Boyata playing out from the back towards Scott Sinclair, again finding the overlapping Tierney. He centred for Ryan Christie from close range, denied by a great save from Bobby Zlamal to keep it at two for the time being.
Nothing going right for Hearts
Odsonne Edouard was the man to grab Celtic’s third. A patient build up culminating in McGregor, Sinclair, James Forrest and Kieran Tierney keeping possession to name a few saw the left back cross for Edouard who stabbed towards Zlamal from six yards out, the simplest of tasks to put Celtic 3-0 up just five minutes before the interval getting a hand from the Hearts keeper on its way in.
The champions proving ruthless against the side they’re looking to rob of top spot in the Premiership. Seven goals in as many games for the £9 million man.
Tom Rogic loves a goal against the Tynecastle team. And, following Kieran Tierney’s free kick which went straight into the wall, could nearly have had one cutting in on his favoured left foot before Zlamal palmed away out to Lustig on the right. The Swede’s cross was headed back across goal by Benkovic. Celtic were virtually queuing up to score, but Ryan Christie’s header trickled wide of the mark.
One way traffic showed no signs of coming to a halt
In the second half, Celtic were hunting for a fourth. Callum McGregor so nearly grabbing the goal his performance deserved. The academy graduate, after running all the way from halfway, took it past Dikamona before shifting onto his right foot and looking to slide it into the bottom left corner. It had Zlamal beaten but it slid agonisingly wide of the mark.
Edouard, on a hat-trick after grabbing two against the Jambos, would this time turn provider. The striker receiving on the edge of the box, perhaps looking to create some space to shoot but instead cleverly shifted onto James Forrest.
The winger, forever improving under Brendan Rodgers’ guidance, took a clever first touch to set himself before striking low and past Zlamal in a flash into the bottom left hand corner. A fabulous finish for his ninth goal of the season, Celtic’s fourth and another goal meaning he’s scored in three games on the spin.
League leaders weak in response
Already 4-0 down, Hearts were being blown away. To a neutral, nobody could have imagined it was anyone other than Celtic who were top of the league. Having created very little, the Jambos went close through Steven MacLean in his return following his suspension on Celtic’s own Kouassi Eboue after he grabbed the midfielder’s testicles in the Betfred Cup semi-final.
A scrappy build up eventually saw Arnaud Djoum intercept before shifting onto the veteran striker. Peter Haring picked up on the edge of the area and shifted out to substitute Ben Garuccio. The Aussie left back’s cross was missed by Dedryck Boyata and the previously mentioned Djoum before MacLean sent a left footed effort wide of the mark via a deflection from Benkovic.
The visitors were masters of their own downfall
Michael Smith, having an uncharacteristically torrid time down the right hand side, got himself into further bother. The Northern Irishman received from another substitute in Callumn Morrison before he was intercepted by Tom Rogic. The Celtic midfielder advanced into the box before looking to lob Zlamal and successfully did so but he also lobbed wide of the goal and Smith was let off the hook.
Having had numerous opportunitites to clear the ball or retain possession, Hearts did neither with Arnaud Djoum being the main culprit. Fancy footwork from Ryan Christie primarily saw him play inside to Forrest who, under substitute Craig Wighton’s challenge, went down in the box.
Five-star Celtic display
Penalty given, Ryan Christie handed a golden opportunity to make it five. Despite passing up a few chances in the match, he would continue his fine form of late after tucking into Zlamal’s bottom right hand corner with the keeper diving left.
The finish to a fine afternoon for Celtic and a totally miserable one for Hearts, who later hit the post through Ben Garuccio as they went in search of nothing more than a consolation goal after being humiliated by the Hoops.
Next up, Celtic host RB Leipzig in a massive Europa League group stage game before playing Livingston away on Sunday. The Jambos host Kilmarnock at home looking to bounce back from a demoralising defeat.