Celtic blitzed into the lead after an incredible opening two minutes of tonight’s SPL encounter at Tynecastle and went on to record one of their most impressive performances in years.
Hearts were miles behind the visitors in every department but could have taken the lead after a minute when Andy Webster was left unattended at a corner kick and his downward header was met inside the six yard box by Stephen Elliot who knocked the ball goal-ward. Joe Ledley intercepted on the line but the ball bounced net-side. As Elliot prepared to celebrate the left hand of Fraser Forster appeared from nowhere to remove any possibility of the officials having sight of the ball. Comments on Celtic Quick News suggest it looked a goal at the time and replays did little to contradict that view.
If the never-give-up spirit is alive inside Fraser Forster his captain was no less focussed tonight. Georgios Samaras cleared the ball out of the box and Scott Brown turned defence into attack with a deft flick on the middle of the field. Brown fed James Forrest who whipped in a cross that rebounded off Samaras, now inside the Hearts box to Scott Brown, who had jetted into the area. The captain steadied before shooting low past MacDonald in the Hearts goal.
The game was only two minutes old but we already knew we were in for a night to remember.
Full of confidence Scott Brown tried a decent effort from 30 yards that went narrowly over but Celtic were not to be denied a second for long. On 20 minutes Charlie Mulgrew’s deep corner was knocked back in by Forrest to Victor Wanyama, who turned and scooped the ball high into the net.
Celtic were motoring and looked streets ahead of their hosts as the reverential home support looked on.
By now Hearts looked more likely to score into their own goal. On three occasions in the opening 30 minutes MacDonald had to scramble across his goal under pressure from his own team. Zaliukas came closest to knocking the ball into his own net but his ‘clearance’ went narrowly wide.
Just after the 30 minute mark Scott Brown robbed Zaliukas as he took the ball out of defence and fed Samaras. Georgios hit the bye-line and send in a deep cross which hung at the back post just long enough for Joe Ledley to stretch and nod home. Celtic were 0-3 up and already guaranteed to move four points clear at the top of the table.
The fourth goal came on 60 minutes after one of the finest moves of the game saw Matthews feed Hooper and the striker tee-up Joe Ledley whose shot hit the post and was turned behind. Mulgrew’s resultant corner was met by Victor Wanyama and could have bounced over the line but Gary Hooper was on hand to clear up any doubt to hit the roof of the net from a distance no farther than 6 inches.
Late on Kelvin Wilson cleared out of the Celtic box to Samaras who was 40 yards from his own goal. The Greek international ran 50 yards before testing MacDonald from distance.
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