Celtic thumps Hearts to move six points clear

Celtic move six points clear

A clinical Kyogo Furuhashi double helped Celtic edge closer to a 12th Scottish Premiership title in 13 seasons as they dispatched Hearts to move six points clear.

In a breathless start, the Japan striker nodded in from compatriot Reo Hatate’s cross to ignite a boisterous Celtic Park crowd, which was almost stunned three minutes earlier when Lawrence Shankland’s effort deflected just wide.

Hearts, who had won their previous two encounters with Celtic, responded well but were undone again when Matt O’Riley’s outrageous ball from deep on the left found Kyogo racing into the box to finish first time.

The Celtic forward was denied a first-half treble when his shot on the swivel was tipped around the post by a busy Zander Clark, who prevented a third for the hosts after the break with a fine double save to deny Hatate and O’Riley.

Kyogo Furuhashi
Kyogo Furuhashi

But the Hearts goalkeeper could do nothing to stop O’Riley’s late penalty, which he rifled high into the top-right corner after an on-field review showed Shankland had clearly handled in the box.

Steven Naismith’s side excelled in first-half spells, with Cammy Devlin seeing a close-range shot tipped wide superbly by Joe Hart before Stephen Kingsley planted a back-post header wide.

But the visitors were ultimately caught out by one defensive lapse, a stunning moment of quality, and a bizarre handball, although a tidier finish from Celtic would have made it a more sobering afternoon.

The result ramps up the pressure on Rangers, who welcome Kilmarnock on Sunday and now know there is almost no margin for error with a potential Old Firm title decider looming next weekend.

Meanwhile, Hearts will seal the third spot if the Rugby Park side fails to win at Ibrox.

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