Slick Celtic get revenge for Hearts defeat as they stretch lead
Celtic avenged their only domestic defeat under Brendan Rodgers with a convincing 3-1 Premiership win over Hearts at Parkhead.
Hearts had ended the Hoops’ 69-game unbeaten run with a 4-0 home win in December but goals from Odsonne Edouard, Dedryck Boyata and Moussa Dembele had the league leaders in command at the interval.
Visiting striker Kyle Lafferty, back after a three-game suspension, reduced the deficit with a drive in the 67th minute but there was no real prospect of a comeback as Celtic moved 14 points clear of second-placed Rangers.
It was a powerful first-half performance by the home side who showed they had the squad to cope with the loss of keeper Craig Gordon and striker Leigh Griffiths to injury at the weekend.
Dorus de Vries took over between the sticks and Dembele claimed the main striker’s role, supported from the left by Edouard, with Eboue Kouassi in midfield.
It took only three minutes for Celtic to make their mark when Edouard raced clear and knocked his finish high past keeper Jon McLaughlin from eight yards.
Parkhead skipper Scott Brown was booked in the 10th minute by referee Craig Thomson for a hefty challenge on midfielder Arnaud Djoum before Lafferty picked up a yellow for a foul on Tierney.
Dembele then blasted a shot straight at McLaughlin after a ricochet landed at his feet 16 yards from goal but Boyata was more composed in the 25th minute when he was set up by the France under-21 striker and slipped the ball under McLaughlin from close range.
Celtic’s third goal, in the 36th minute, saw Dembele flick past McLaughlin at the near post.
There was no let-up from the champions after the break and Edouard should have made it four when he was sent clear by Dembele but shot straight at McLaughlin.
Charly Musonda, the 21-year-old Chelsea attacker who signed an 18-month loan deal with Celtic on Monday, was given a great reception in the 62nd minute when he took over from James Forrest.
However, Hearts pulled one back when Lafferty curled a shot past De Vries from the edge of the box.