Scottish Premiership
CelticCeltic4HeartsHeart of Midlothian1
By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland

Leigh Griffiths grabbed a double as Celtic kicked off their Premiership title defence with a rout of Hearts.

The Scotland striker opened the scoring with a neat right-foot finish following a simple through ball from Nir Bitton.

Scott Sinclair capitalised on dreadful defending from Aaron Hughes to tap in the second before Griffiths headed home to finish an excellent move.

Callum McGregor drilled in the fourth before Isma Goncalves smashed in Hearts' consolation at the near post.

The visitors, with Jon Daly in interim charge following the sacking of head coach Ian Cathro, showed positive signs in the early stages.

Leigh Griffiths makes it 1-0
Griffiths knocked home the opener after Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton made an initial block

They showed a whole lot more aggression than they did in the limp League Cup performances against Peterhead and Dunfermline that sealed Cathro's fate, but hard work guarantees you nothing when you come to the home of the champions.

For 20 minutes, the visitors looked at ease. They were defending well, had loads of bite in midfield and in the young winger Lewis Moore they had a player who looked like he could create something given the chance.

Celtic turned the heat up thereafter, though. Jack Hamilton had to parry away a Griffiths shot and only smart defending from Christophe Berra stopped McGregor from turning in the loose ball. Griffiths had another chance soon after. And then another.

This time he put it away after a ball from the back from Bitton was seized on by the striker. Hearts tried to play offside but Rafal Grzelak was caught out, not for the first time. Griffiths went through and scored at the second attempt.

Scott Sinclair makes it 2-0
Scott Sinclair was left with a simple finish after sloppy play from Hearts defender Aaron Hughes

The rest of it was easy for Celtic and a bit of a grind for Hearts. Kyle Lafferty went in the book, so did Michael Smith. Lafferty was fortunate not to get a second yellow later on. He was replaced with 20 minutes to go.

Celtic created more chances with Griffiths being denied by Berra, Forrest being frustrated by Hamilton and, the best opportunity of all, McGregor pulling a shot across the goal and wide after a cheeky Scott Brown back-heel opened up the Hearts defence.

The visitors had a brief flurry at the start of the new half. Berra should have done better with a close-range header from a corner.

Once that chance went begging, Celtic took ownership again, kicking on to build their lead. Sinclair tapped in from a few yards out after Hughes failed to deal with a Celtic corner.

The third arrived soon after. Brown put the excellent McGregor away down the right and he crossed for Griffiths. The striker's diving header increased Hearts' woes. The fact that McGregor looked marginally offside when he took Brown's pass would not have done much to lift their mood either.

Callum McGregor scores
Callum McGregor capped a fine display with a cracking drive

McGregor got the fourth - just reward for a Celtic player who does not get the attention of some others around him in that midfield. Sinclair drove hard at a retreating Hearts defence and slipped a pass to McGregor, who promptly thumped a shot straight and true, right over Hamilton's head and into his net.

The competition for places in that Celtic midfield is cut-throat now. Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic and Jonny Hayes all started on the bench as Brendan Rodgers' team sent out a crystal-clear message to those living in hope of being the first team to beat them domestically.

That is going to be as difficult this season as it was last season. For Hearts, in their most turbulent week since exiting administration, it proved impossible.

Goncalves' late strike, as he brushed off Jozo Simunovic and beat Craig Gordon at his near post, was all they had to show for their toil.

Scott Brown with the Scottish Premiership trophy
Scott Brown brought out the Premiership trophy and raised the Championship flag before kick-off

Line-ups

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23Lustig
  • 5Simunovic
  • 6Bitton
  • 63Tierney
  • 21NtchamSubstituted forArmstrongat 87'minutes
  • 8BrownBooked at 27mins
  • 49Forrest
  • 42McGregorSubstituted forRogicat 75'minutes
  • 11Sinclair
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forHayesat 67'minutes

Substitutes

  • 14Armstrong
  • 15Hayes
  • 18Rogic
  • 24de Vries
  • 35Ajer
  • 56Ralston
  • 88Kouassi

Hearts

  • 13Hamilton
  • 30Brandon
  • 5Hughes
  • 6Berra
  • 27GrzelakBooked at 68minsSubstituted forEsmael Gonçalvesat 69'minutes
  • 2SmithBooked at 44mins
  • 8BuabenSubstituted forRandallat 62'minutes
  • 15Cowie
  • 10Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 33Moore
  • 9LaffertyBooked at 31minsSubstituted forSammonat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Souttar
  • 16Randall
  • 18Sammon
  • 19Nowak
  • 21Martin
  • 31Noring
  • 77Esmael Gonçalves
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
58,843

Match Stats

Home TeamCelticAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home69%
Away31%
Shots
Home17
Away4
Shots on Target
Home7
Away3
Corners
Home9
Away5
Fouls
Home9
Away21

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Celtic 4, Heart of Midlothian 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Celtic 4, Heart of Midlothian 1.

  3. Post update

    Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian).

  5. Post update

    Tomas Rogic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Aaron Hughes (Heart of Midlothian).

  7. Post update

    Foul by Jonny Hayes (Celtic).

  8. Post update

    Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Craig Gordon.

  10. Post update

    Attempt saved. Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Scott Sinclair (Celtic).

  12. Post update

    Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

  15. Post update

    Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Celtic).

  16. Post update

    Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Stuart Armstrong replaces Olivier Ntcham.

  18. Post update

    Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian).

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Celtic 4, Heart of Midlothian 1. Esmael Gonçalves (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum.

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