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<-Page <-Team Wed 28 Nov 2012 Hearts 0 Celtic 4 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John McGlynn <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> William Collum
[L Nouioui 9] ;[M Lustig 22] ;[Stevenson Ryan og 30] ;[G Hooper 83]
18 of 023 -----L SPL H

Hearts 0 Celtic 4: Neil Lennon's side put domestic form back on track

At a ground where his memories are not always of wholesome events, Neil Lennon last night supervised his 100th win as a manager with a victory so emphatic that the issue was finished as a contest by half-time or, if one is less inclined to be charitable, inside 20 minutes, by which time Celtic were already two goals ahead.

By Roddy Forsyth

Their demeanour was in marked contrast to the flat performance which led to defeat at home to Caley Thistle on Saturday and strongly suggested that this Celtic squad produce their best in direct proportion to the atmosphere of the event.

Lennon’s players came into the fixture having won only one of their previous five SPL matches - against Aberdeen at Pittodrie - and, as on that occasion, the stadium was close to full for their visit. For the first few minutes there was parity of noise from the two supports but by the interval, with their side trailing to shots from Lassad, Michael Lustig and an own goal by Ryan Stevenson, some Hearts fans were already making for the exits.

Very few were around for the final whistle, by which time they had not only witnessed a demoralising defeat but also a penalty kick saved by Fraser Forster, who was again in inspirational form.

Yet Hearts reacted well enough to their share of the racket for the opening minutes and when they forced their first corner and then won a free-kick for a foul on Callum Paterson by Kelvin Wilson - Celtic captain for the night - they seemed to have bedded into the contest. The impression soon proved to be illusory. The gloves came off, literally, when Kris Commons discarded his. The midfielder had no sooner cast his hand warmers aside when Beram Kayal found him free on the left and as the Hearts back line was sucked towards him they left Lassad entirely unmarked beyond the back post.

The Tunisian finished, driving low past Jamie MacDonald from six yards. To make matters worse for Hearts, they squandered a prompt chance to equalise when a Stevenson free-kick found Paterson all alone inside the box but, with a free header and the goal at his disposal, he mistimed his contact and the ball skidded wide off the top of his skull.

Before Hearts came as close again they had fallen further behind as Lassad, gathering a pass from Lustig, saw his cutback deflected into the path of the Swede, who rifled a drive into the far corner. The fight was now going against Hearts in every

department and it seemed increasingly that if they were going to inflict damage it would most likely be from a set-piece but when the situation arose Celtic played another trump card.

A foul by Commons on Paterson brought Stevenson within shooting distance and he responded with a full-blooded free-kick which lanced through the wall only for Forster to block. Zaliukas hooked the rebound back but he was also thwarted by the goalkeeper before Ryan McGowan show past.

A few minutes later Hearts were again negligent at the back post, allowing Charlie Mulgrew a free shot on the left of their box. Stevenson, well back from his upfield beat, saw the danger and threw himself into an attempt to intercept but diverted the ball into his own net.

The progress of the second half was entirely predictable as Celtic – who brought on Scott Brown and Georgios Samaras as the game wore on - granted Hearts the ball in the danger areas, then - after Forster had saved Zaliukas’ penalty effort when Wilson upended Stevenson - showed how it should be done with a Hooper shot from Mulgrew’s supply. “We were back to the levels we know they can play at,” said Lennon. “So it’s very, very satisfactory.”

Meanwhile Hibs moved up to second through a late Paul Cairney goal against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The hosts should have scored through a Nigel Hasselbaink penalty, but Ben Williams saved it, and Liam Craig’s follow-up.

Then Cairney made the hosts pay, with a low shot that defeated goalkeeper Alan Mannus. To confound the misery for the hosts, captain Dave Mackay was sent off in injury time.

Craig also hit the bar with a free-kick earlier, even at that stage suggesting it was not going to the Saints’ night.

Match details
Hearts: MacDonald; R McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, McHattie; Paterson, D McGowan (Robinson 62) , Barr, Walker (Driver 67); Holt (Taouil 57); R Stevenson.
Subs: Enckelman (gk), Sutton, Smith, Novikovas.
Celtic: Forster; Lustig Matthews 67), Wilson, Ambrose, Mulgrew; Commons, Kayal, Wanyama, Ledley (Brown 68); Lassad (Samaras 79), Hooper.
Subs: Zaluska (gk), Miku, Watt, McGeough.
Goals: Nouioui 10, Lustig 22, Stevenson 30, (og) Hooper 83′
Referee: W Collum.

Taken from

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