Celtic 4 - 1 Hearts: Easy work for Celtic against hapless Hearts

Celtic's Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
Celtic's Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson
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Celtic began their quest for seven-in-a-row with a comfortable 4-1 win over Heart of Midlothian at Celtic Park on the day Scott Brown unveiled the League flag to begin the new Ladbrokes Premiership season.

Leigh Griffiths netted the opener, being played onside by Rafal Grzelak, and Scott Sinclair added a second minutes after the interval when he tapped home from a corner. Griffiths netted his second from close rangers before Callum McGregor rifled in a shot from outside the box. Esmael Goncalves came off the bench to pull a late goal back for the Jambos.

Celtic captain Scott Brown unfurls the Ladbrokes Champions flag before the match against Hearts. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

Celtic captain Scott Brown unfurls the Ladbrokes Champions flag before the match against Hearts. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy

Hearts, under the interim management of Jon Daly, came to contain with starts for youngsters Liam Moore and Brandon. The home side dominated possession, finishing the half with more than 70 per cent of the ball.

Yet, despite the effortless passing of Olivier Ntcham, Celtic struggled to break down a resolute Hearts backline. But with the constant menace of Griffiths, Hearts couldn’t allow their focus to slip.

That’s what happened when Grzelak was caught deeper than his fellow defenders, allowing Nir Bitton to pick out the number 9 with a raking pass. Griffiths saw his first effort stopped by Jack Hamilton but was quick enough to react to nip the ball into the empty net.

Any realistic hope of Hearts coming back to win was extinguished moments after the interval when Aaron Hughes failed to sort his feet and his clearance fell behind him to allow Sinclair to turn into the goal.

Griffiths made it 3-0 three minutes after the hour mark. A sustained period of pressure was culminated in an incisive pass from Scott Brown to set up McGregor who in turn fed Griffiths to head into an empty net, his last piece of action of the afternoon.

Having set up the third, McGregor netted the fourth with a thunderous drive which went through a despairing Hamilton after a fine direct run from Sinclair.

The Gorgie side did not look like troubling Craig Gordon for most of the afternoon, that was until Arnaud Djoum played a hopeful lofted ball over the Celtic defence for substitute Goncalves to run on to. The forward held off the attentions of Jozo Simunovic before firing hard at the front post, Gordon deflecting it into the roof of the net.