Tue. May 28th, 2024

Celtic restored their seven-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership with a thumping 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.

The champions made an extremely fast start as Matt O’Riley’s fine first-time volley (4) gave them the lead.

Celtic were dominant, and they extended their advantage midway through the first half when Daizen Maeda (23) bundled Reo Hatate’s cross over the line from inside the six-yard box.

The visitors had the chance to make the game safe early in the second half when Kyogo Furuhashi went to ground in the penalty area under a challenge from Alex Cochrane, but Hatate spurned the opportunity, striking his spot-kick against the foot of the post.

However, Brendan Rodgers’ side did not have to wait too much longer for a third as Kyogo (51) thumped home his eighth goal in eight games against Hearts.

There was a glimmer of hope for the hosts, who were booed off at half-time, when Lawrence Shankland (61) ended his eight-game goal drought to pull one back, but Tomoki Iwata’s emphatic finish (81) sealed a comprehensive victory for the league leaders, who continue their unbeaten start to the season.

How Celtic continued their unbeaten league start…

Celtic took no time at all to get going at Tynecastle as Luis Palma’s clipped ball into the box picked out O’Riley, who guided a sweetly-struck volley past Zander Clark for his sixth goal in 12 games this season.

Kenneth Vargas did force Joe Hart into action, with the former England goalkeeper turning behind the Hearts forward’s shot from a tight angle as the hosts searched for a way back into the game.

However, Celtic never really looked back from O’Riley’s opener.

They continued to dominate proceedings and extended their advantage when Maeda, who was adjudged onside after a VAR check, converted Hatate’s cross from close range.

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Celtic’s Daizen Maeda scores to make it 2-0

After the break, Celtic spurned the chance to add a third when Hatate’s spot-kick rebounded off the post after Kyogo went down under a challenge from Cochrane in the penalty area.

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Reo Hatate misses the opportunity to put Celtic 3-0 ahead from the penalty spot

However, Kyogo was soon celebrating as he slammed home an emphatic finish to score his 60th Celtic goal in 95 games.

Hearts were handed a lifeline in the 65th minute when Shankland curled a superb strike past Hart and into the bottom goal for his first goal since August.

But it proved to be just a consolation as Iwata grabbed his first Celtic goal with an emphatic strike which thundered in off the underside of the crossbar to secure Celtic a sixth straight league win.

The goals…

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Matt O’Riley gets on the end of Luis Palma’s ball and finishes with a fine strike to give Celtic an early lead against Hearts

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Maeda latches on to Hatate’s cross to slot home from close range to give Celtic a 2-0 lead

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Kyogo finishes from close range to make it 3-0

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Lawrence Shankland scores for Hearts with a super strike from outside the box

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Tomoki Iwata adds a fourth for Celtic through an incredible strike which cannons off the underside of the crossbar

Rodgers: It’s a fantastic win for us

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Brendan Rodgers speaks to Sky Sports after his side’s 4-1 win against Hearts at Tynecastle and praises the performances of O’Riley and Kyogo

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers:

“It’s a fantastic win for us. This is, notoriously, a very difficult place to come, but I thought lots of the game was excellent; we scored some outstanding goals. I’m disappointed one, that we didn’t score more and, two, the goal we gave away was a shame. Overall, on the back end of a lot of travel for some of the players coming back from international duty, to put in a performance here and play that well, was very good.

“I said that, to come here, we have to be able to start quick and we have to bring the game to a level that makes it difficult for Hearts, with that energy and quality. The players did that.

“The players are finding their level. They are understanding what we want. The tempo of the game was good from us, some of the quality was very good. My only disappointment was that spell when it got to 3-1; we’ve got to keep the ball better. I know we’re tired and there’s a little bit of fatigue setting in, but you can rest with the ball better than we did in that period of the game. Overall, delighted with the performance and the result.

“We need to just recover. We put lots of effort into today. We’ll go away, study and finalise our plan for Wednesday and the supporters will be there for us, giving us everything and the team will give everything. Let’s see where it takes us.”

He is a wonderful football player, but it’s known that, when you’re an attacking midfield player, you want to have numbers. It was a great ball by Luis Palma – he’s shown that a number of times since he’s come in and he’s got that quality to deliver. But Matty’s finish was absolutely brilliant.

Brendan Rodgers on O’Riley

Boyd: Hearts never laid a glove on top-class O’Riley

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Kris Boyd believes O’Riley will secure a big-money move in the near future after continuing to prove his class

Sky Sports’ Kris Boyd:

“Celtic have got this knack of bringing players in, giving them a platform to go and perform. They then go and move them on for big money.

“Matt O’Riley will be one of the next ones to go in terms of big money.

“Last season, everyone was raving about his assists, and rightly so, but there was always the doubt about whether he could add goals. He’s doing that now.

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‘When you’re in the box more, you score more goals’ – O’Riley reflects on his stunner

“Do not underestimate how hard that finish is for the opener. A lot of players would snatch at it but he always looked in control of that volley. He didn’t even break stride. It’s an unbelievable finish.

“You could sit and watch Matt O’Riley play football all day. He’s a top-class player. He glides about the pitch and Brendan Rodgers has obviously asked him to get forward more this season. He is reaping the benefits of that.

“He was outstanding. Hearts never laid a glove on him.”

More praise for O’Riley

Ex-Celtic midfielder Stiliyan Petrov on Sky Sports:

“He’s become very valuable for Celtic. His overall game is maturing. He sees the game differently, he plays the ball quicker. This is what makes you stand out from other midfielders. The goal today was a perfect example of what he does best.”

Celtic captain Callum McGregor to Sky Sports:

“He’s been superb. He came back in the summer in incredible condition.

“He deserves his vein of form, he’s such an important player for the team. A top player.”

Naismith: All four goals are avoidable

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Hearts boss Steven Naismith said all four of Celtic’s goals were avoidable

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith:

“We lost terrible goals. That’s now the last two games we’ve conceded goals that are really poor. You’re playing one of the best teams in the league, you need to work from a solid foundation and we didn’t do that. The first goal comes after three minutes. It was really poor. I think all four goals in today’s game are avoidable from our point of view. When you’re giving yourself that uphill task then it’s going to be difficult.

“In the second half, we came back into the game with a goal. You then try and build some momentum, but then we don’t play the game right to put them under pressure and then, again, we lose goals that are really poor, which then kills the game, effectively.

“I think it’s soft goals that we’re losing and whether that’s communication or people being intense in their pressure when they are defending, it’s a number of things. With one or two, you can maybe say the team have done well, but throughout the season, we’ve conceded really soft goals. That’s what’s stopping us from getting results and competing in games. We need to work on some things in training, but these situations come up in games and it’s split-second decision making.

“At times, we had a threat and we got in the final third and were close to getting chances. We got our goal, which is good for Shanks and we did carry a threat at times, but we didn’t help ourselves. I don’t think the penalty was a penalty. It doesn’t impact the game, but we didn’t give ourselves the best opportunity to, one, win the game and, secondly, get back in it when we went behind.”

What’s next?

Celtic host Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday October 25, kick-off 8pm. They then return to league action three days later at Hibernian. Kick-off 3pm.

Meanwhile, Hearts travel to Rangers on Sunday October 29 at 3pm.

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