Matt O’Riley crashed in a sensational volley after just four minutes
Brendan Rodgers was delighted as Celtic’s rapid opening silenced Tynecastle on their way to a comfortable victory over Hearts that restored a seven-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
The home team and often raucous fans were deflated when Matt O’Riley cracked in a superb opener after four minutes, then Daizen Maeda added a close-range finish.
Reo Hatate hit the post with a second-half penalty before Kyogo Furuhashi continued his knack of scoring against Hearts.
Lawrence Shankland found his first goal since August but Celtic regained their three-goal advantage in a one-sided contest thanks to a fierce Tomoki Iwata strike.
“We needed to start with an energy that would make things difficult for Hearts because this is a place where the crowd really get behind them if they start well,” said Celtic boss Rodgers.
“Coming to grounds like this is when you find out if you’re a good team or not because you will have difficult moments, but the players dealt with it really well. That was probably as quiet as I’ve heard it here.”
For the champions it was a 10th successive win over Hearts in all competitions, with the Edinburgh side staying in fourth place, despite winning just three of their nine outings.
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O’Riley has been in storming form this season and did not take long to make his mark. Coming in from the left, Luis Palma dinked the ball over the top of the Hearts defence and the 22-year-old let it drop over his shoulder before steering a sweetly-struck volley into the far corner of the net.
Kenneth Vargas and Maeda traded shots before the latter doubled Celtic’s lead. Hatate drilled the ball across the face of goal and his Japan team-mate had the simple job of nudging it home.
The second half was just 12 seconds old when Alex Cochrane was penalised for a clumsy challenge on Kyogo. However, Hatate cracked the spot-kick against the base of the post.
The miss did nothing to affect Hatate’s confidence as he sent a sumptuous flick into the path of the galloping Palma and seconds later Kyogo was lashing the ball high into the net from six yards to stretch his scoring run against Hearts to eight games.
There were already a lot of empty seats in the home stands when Shankland curled in a lovely finish from the edge of the penalty area, profiting from a bad Maeda touch.
The hosts had 25 minutes to salvage something and the introduction of Liam Boyce added a bit of bite to their attack, but Celtic were next to strike as Iwata crashed in his first goal for the club.
The visitors were first to the ball each time in a series of near things before the substitute thundered a shot off the underside of the crossbar.
Celtic remain unbeaten in the league, winning each of their opening five away matches, something no team has done since 2017-18 during Rodgers’ first spell in charge.
Player of the match – Matt O’Riley
Midfield colleagues Callum McGregor and Reo Hatate caught the eye but O’Riley edges it with a fantastic first-half display and the stunning opening goal
Celtic in cruise control – analysis
Celtic were in complete command from the moment O’Riley’s sixth goal of the season flew in.
The champions’ slick passing and speed of thought was too much for Hearts, who were very meek in the first half.
Calem Nieuwenhof and Cammy Devlin were overrun in the middle of the park as O’Riley combined well with Callum McGregor and Reo Hatate. Those three are streets ahead of anything else the division has to offer in the engine room.
And the bad news for the rest is that Hatate and Kyogo are yet to hit the heights they did last season.
What they said
Hearts head coach Steven Naismith: “Today is not a good day in terms of our progression.
“We created our own downfall. The goals are really sloppy. Then we get into good positions but our final ball lets us down.
“Throughout the season we’ve been a bit more solid, but these small moments are costing us. We need to rectify it.”
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers: “When we miss the penalty, the stadium gets a lift but we worked through it to get the third goal.
“The players are finding their feet. Celtic is a team that always has to win, but you need to do that in a certain style. That comes with development.
“There are areas where we can improve. When we get to 3-1 and 4-1, we can manage the ball a bit better and maybe be more clinical.”
Celtic face a significant step up in opposition, with Atletico Madrid in Glasgow for Champions League duty on Wednesday (20:00 BST). Having been swept aside by the leaders, Hearts visit second-placed Rangers next Sunday (15:00).
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 21SibbickBooked at 59mins
- 8NieuwenhofSubstituted forBaningimeat 58’minutes
- 14DevlinSubstituted forGrantat 82’minutes
- 51LowrySubstituted forOdaat 58’minutes
- 77VargasBooked at 58minsSubstituted forBoyceat 73’minutes
- 42McGregorSubstituted forGonçalves Bernardoat 82’minutes
- 41HatateSubstituted forIwataat 66’minutesBooked at 90mins
- 38MaedaSubstituted forYangat 72’minutes
- 8FuruhashiSubstituted forOhat 72’minutes
- 7PalmaSubstituted forForrestat 65’minutes
- 28Gonçalves Bernardo
Home TeamHeartsAway TeamCelticPossessionHome42%Away58%ShotsHome13Away19Shots on TargetHome6Away7CornersHome3Away5FoulsHome16Away11
Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 1, Celtic 4.
Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 1, Celtic 4.
Yang Hyun-Jun (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian).
Attempt saved. Liam Boyce (Heart of Midlothian) header from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jorge Grant.
Tomoki Iwata (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Tomoki Iwata (Celtic).
Frankie Kent (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Paulo Bernardo (Celtic).
Jorge Grant (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Yutaro Oda (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jorge Grant.
Foul by Yang Hyun-Jun (Celtic).
Jorge Grant (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Frankie Kent.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Zander Clark.
Attempt saved. Oh Hyeon-Gyu (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by James Forrest with a cross.
Offside, Heart of Midlothian. Alex Cochrane tries a through ball, but Lawrence Shankland is caught offside.
Substitution, Celtic. Paulo Bernardo replaces Callum McGregor.
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Jorge Grant replaces Cameron Devlin.
Goal! Heart of Midlothian 1, Celtic 4. Tomoki Iwata (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner.
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Player of the match
with an average of 9.02
- HeartsHeart of MidlothianHeart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
- Squad number9Player nameShanklandAverage rating
- Squad number28Player nameClarkAverage rating
- Squad number10Player nameBoyceAverage rating
- Squad number17Player nameForrestAverage rating
- Squad number14Player nameDevlinAverage rating
- Squad number2Player nameKentAverage rating
- Squad number77Player nameVargasAverage rating
- Squad number6Player nameBaningimeAverage rating
- Squad number19Player nameCochraneAverage rating
- Squad number51Player nameLowryAverage rating
- Squad number15Player nameRowlesAverage rating
- Squad number11Player nameOdaAverage rating
- Squad number21Player nameSibbickAverage rating
- Squad number7Player nameGrantAverage rating
- Squad number8Player nameNieuwenhofAverage rating
- Squad number24Player nameIwataAverage rating
- Squad number49Player nameForrestAverage rating
- Squad number33Player nameO’RileyAverage rating
- Squad number41Player nameHatateAverage rating
- Squad number7Player namePalmaAverage rating
- Squad number42Player nameMcGregorAverage rating
- Squad number8Player nameFuruhashiAverage rating
- Squad number20Player nameCarter-VickersAverage rating
- Squad number5Player nameScalesAverage rating
- Squad number3Player nameTaylorAverage rating
- Squad number38Player nameMaedaAverage rating
- Squad number2Player nameJohnstonAverage rating
- Squad number1Player nameHartAverage rating
- Squad number28Player namePaulo BernardoAverage rating
- Squad number19Player nameOh Hyeon-GyuAverage rating
- Squad number13Player nameYang Hyun-JunAverage rating