Celtic bounce back with Hearts rout

Celtic moved a point clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League as they got back to winning ways with a 4-0 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday.

The Hoops hadn't scored in the first half of their past five league matches but ended that run in spectacular fashion with three goals in the first half hour.

Lassad Nouioui opened the scoring in the 10th minute when he volleyed home a Kris Commons cross before Mikel Lustig took advantage of some poor defending to fire a shot past Jamie Macdonald in the 22nd minute.

Ryan Stevenson scored an unfortunate own goal on the half hour mark when he turned Charlie Mulgrew's cutback past Macdonald before Gary Hooper poked home a late fourth in the 83rd minute.

Hearts had numerous chances but couldn't find a way past Fraser Forster who was in inspired form, superbly denying Marius Zaliukas from the penalty spot in the 88th minute after Stevenson was crudely blocked in the box by Kelvin Wilson.

The win was manager Neil Lennon's 100th victory in charge of the Hoops.

"We played with great intensity and pace to our game. In the first half we were sensational," said Lennon, whose side had a shock defeat to Inverness on Saturday.

"I got the reaction I was looking for and it was a great team performance tonight."

Hearts manager John McGlynn thought the scoreline was harsh on his side.

"We thought our performance was better than that but Celtic were clinical," McGlynn said.

"I thought our attitude, commitment and desire was first class and I don't think many of my players deserved to be on the losing side."

The Jambos' Edinburgh rivals Hibernian are just a point behind Celtic after securing a 1-0 win away to St Johnstone.

Celtic had an early chance when Hooper managed to wriggle his way into the box from the right and cut the ball back for Commons who sent his rising shot straight to the keeper.

Early goals
The Hoops didn't have to wait long to take the lead with Lassad netting the opener in the 10th minute.

Commons swung in a deep cross from the left to the box post where the unmarked Tunisian slammed a side foot volley past Macdonald.

Hearts were immediately presented with an excellent chance to equalise when the unmarked Callum Paterson headed a marvellous chance wide from six yards out from a Stevenson free-kick.

The Jambos were appealing for a penalty moments later when Paterson went down in the box under a challenge from Wilson but their pleas were ignored.

Some poor defending helped Celtic double their advantage in the 22nd minute through Lustig. Lassad sent in a low cross from the right and a lunging Hearts defender could only divert the ball to the Swedish defender, who poked in a low shot from 10 yards.

Forster had been having a quiet evening in the Celtic goal but produced a superb double save to deny Hearts in the 24th minute. The keeper palmed away a fierce, curling free-kick from Stevenson before recovering to block a Marius Zaliukas follow up header from near the penalty spot.

An unfortunate own goal made it 3-0 on the half hour mark. Mulgrew raced into the penalty area to cut the ball back from the by-line and Stevenson stuck out a leg only to divert it high past the helpless Macdonald.

Hearts started the second half in a better fashion and once again Celtic had Forster to thank for saving them as he got down smartly to tip a fierce free-kick from Kevin McHattie round the post.

Hooper rounded off the scoring in the 83rd minute when he beat Zaliukas to the ball to poke Mulgrew's cross from the left past Macdonald.

Hearts were to be denied a consolation goal when Forster made a magnificent save to stop Zaliukas' 88th minute penalty after Wilson had fouled Stevenson.