Scottish Premiership
Hearts0Celtic5

Heart of Midlothian 0-5 Celtic

Celtic's Scott Sinclair celebrates
Scott Sinclair has scored six goals in three games against Hearts

Celtic clinched a sixth consecutive Scottish title with a flourish as three-goal Scott Sinclair again proved to be a thorn in the flesh of Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers' side survived early pressure to sweep to victory and secure the earliest title success, with eight games to spare, in a 38-game campaign.

Two deadly finishes from Sinclair - he has scored six in three outings against Hearts - edged Celtic ahead.

Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts matched them before a Sinclair penalty.

The final whistle signalled a party in the Edinburgh sunshine as Celtic celebrated their 48th Scottish title - their 12th this century and first with Rodgers as manager.

And the records keep tumbling for Celtic, who remain unbeaten in 37 domestic games this season, eclipsing a 100-year-old club record.

Sinclair inspires Celtic symmetry

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Celtic share Scottish title joy with fans

Winning the title in Edinburgh was an act of perfect symmetry for Rodgers' side.

The Northern Irishman's first domestic game in charge of Celtic was at Tynecastle and the packed stands were playing host to the 300th league meeting between the sides - and the 150th to be hosted by Hearts.

On that day back on 7 August, a late goal from Sinclair was needed to subdue hosts who were looking to overtake Aberdeen as Celtic's main title challengers after finishing third in their first season back in the top flight.

A Sinclair double also helped secure a 4-0 win over Hearts in Glasgow in January on a day when he deputised up front due to the absence of first-choice strikers Moussa Dembele and deputy Leigh Griffiths.

That day, the 28-year-old's goals came after he was switched to a more natural wide role, with Roberts in the centre, and that's the way they started at Tynecastle this time out as Rodgers was again denied his two top marksmen through injury.

Lesson learned, one-time Manchester City winger Sinclair combined superbly with fellow Englishman Roberts, himself on loan from the Etihad Stadium, twice within three first-half minutes to virtually end Hearts' challenge.

Cathro can't reverse Hearts' slide

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Hearts a work in progress - Cathro

Aberdeen's 7-0 thrashing of Dundee on Friday had ensured that Celtic would require another three points to secure the title.

However, there were few signs that Hearts had the form to make them wait any longer.

Celtic had arrived at Tynecastle unbeaten in their last 10 visits since their last defeat by Hearts - 2-0 at Tynecastle in October 2011 - with the Edinburgh side only avoiding defeat once during that spell.

Since Ian Cathro had taken over as head coach from MK Dons-bound Robbie Neilson, they had slipped from second to fifth and had won only once in their last seven outings.

Yet they had lost only two of their last 14 Premiership home games and they came out full of determination to deny Celtic a title party in their own back yard.

Cathro looked to have won the early tactical battle, with his high-pressing game knocking the visitors out their stride and Isma Goncalves twice testing goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who then saved at point-blank range from Jamie Walker.

Magic from Sinclair and Roberts

Celtic's Patrick Roberts celebrates
Patrick Roberts set up two goals and scored one for Celtic

It had looked ominous for Hearts when Sinclair played in Callum McGregor to find the net after only two minutes.

The linesman's flag allowed the home side to breathe again and they were soon giving as good as they got in a fast and furious start that raged from end to end.

McGregor somehow side-footed wide from only six yards and we began to question Rodgers' decision to switch to an unusual formation with three at the back.

However, Sinclair played a clever one-two with Roberts on the edge of the penalty box before thumping high past goalkeeper Jack Hamilton to give Celtic a 24th-minute lead.

It was soon two as Roberts threaded the ball behind the Hearts defence for Sinclair to score again.

Hearts' defensive frailties had come home to roost and Armstrong's 20-yard drive after the break and Roberts' deft chip from the edge of the penalty area ensured the title was on its way back to Glasgow.

Sinclair completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after being pulled down by Krystian Nowak.

What now for Celtic? With the League Cup already won, a Scottish Cup semi-final awaits as they seek a domestic treble and the prospect of ending the domestic season unbeaten - a feat no Scottish champions have achieved since the late 19th century.

Line-ups

Hearts

  • 1Hamilton
  • 27Struna
  • 19NowakBooked at 45mins
  • 12Avlonitis
  • 46Sowah
  • 6Kitchen
  • 4TziolisSubstituted forBuabenat 65'minutes
  • 20Johnsen
  • 15Cowie
  • 7WalkerBooked at 5minsSubstituted forMartinat 65'minutes
  • 77Esmael GonçalvesBooked at 33minsSubstituted forBeithat 71'minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Buaben
  • 11Nicholson
  • 13Noring
  • 22Beith
  • 24Smith
  • 30Currie
  • 88Martin

Celtic

  • 1Gordon
  • 23LustigSubstituted forGamboaat 80'minutes
  • 5Simunovic
  • 20BoyataBooked at 69minsSubstituted forK Touréat 87'minutes
  • 63Tierney
  • 14Armstrong
  • 8Brown
  • 42McGregorBooked at 33mins
  • 11Sinclair
  • 27RobertsSubstituted forMackay-Stevenat 79'minutes
  • 49ForrestBooked at 42mins

Substitutes

  • 2K Touré
  • 6Bitton
  • 12Gamboa
  • 16Mackay-Steven
  • 26Bailly
  • 76Aitchison
  • 88Kouassi
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
16,539

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home41%
Away59%
Shots
Home8
Away9
Shots on Target
Home4
Away6
Corners
Home2
Away2
Fouls
Home12
Away9

Live Text

Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 5.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 5.

Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Stuart Armstrong (Celtic).

Andraz Struna (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Kolo Touré replaces Dedryck Boyata.

Goal!

Goal! Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 5. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

Penalty Celtic. Scott Sinclair draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Krystian Nowak (Heart of Midlothian) after a foul in the penalty area.

Kieran Tierney (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Cristian Gamboa replaces Mikael Lustig.

Substitution

Substitution, Celtic. Gary Mackay-Steven replaces Patrick Roberts.

Attempt saved. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Angus Beith replaces Esmael Gonçalves.

Booking

Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).

Esmael Gonçalves (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Krystian Nowak.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Prince Buaben replaces Alexandros Tziolis.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Malaury Martin replaces Jamie Walker.

Goal!

Goal! Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 4. Patrick Roberts (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Callum McGregor.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt saved. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Goal!

Goal! Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 3. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kieran Tierney.

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alexandros Tziolis (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Jozo Simunovic (Celtic).

Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Second Half

Second Half begins Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 2.

Half Time

First Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 2.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic30282081186386
2Aberdeen30194760243661
3Rangers3014974334951
4St Johnstone30127113938143
5Hearts30118115042841
6Partick Thistle30910113335-237
7Kilmarnock30712112946-1733
8Dundee3086163248-1630
9Ross County30610143250-1828
10Motherwell3077163458-2428
11Hamilton30512132747-2027
12Inverness CT30413133454-2025
View full Scottish Premiership table

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