In fine form
Celtic showed no ill-effects from their draining penalty shoot-out defeat to Valencia CF in the UEFA Cup on Thursday as they secured their 16th win in 17 league games to stay 12 points ahead of Rangers FC, who beat Heart of Midlothian FC 3-1 at Ibrox stadium.
"The players are still disappointed about going out to Valencia," said Celtic manager Martin O'Neill. "But [they] know the only way we can get back to that level is by winning the title and returning to the [UEFA] Champions League - and the way they played, they showed they want it."
John Hartson scored twice for the second successive league game after French defender Dianbobo Baldé had headed Celtic in front from a Stilian Petrov corner on eight minutes. Twelve minutes later Hartson got his first with an angled shot from Steve Guppy's cross.
Two for Hartson
The Welsh international striker scored Celtic's third on the hour mark by guiding in a header from another Petrov corner, before Alan Thompson sealed the rout two minutes later with a 30-metre volley after Henrik Larsson's free-kick had rebounded to him off the defensive wall.
'Keep gap over Rangers'
"I think a lot of people would be looking at us after Thursday to see if showed a hangover from the Valencia match, but the important thing was to get a result to keep our gap over Rangers," said Hartson.
Rangers also cruised to an early lead in their 3-1 victory over Hearts as Dutchman Ronald de Boer shot home after great work by Russell Latapy on seven minutes. The pair then reversed the roles after 20 minutes for Latapy to score.
Hearts came back into the game when Canadian international Kevin McKenna got a goal back with a deflected free-kick from 25 metres five minutes before the break.
Arveladze secures victory
Shota Arveladze secured the victory 20 minutes from the end when he got Rangers' third goal after Hearts keeper Antti Niemi had saved a shot from Claudio Caniggia.
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