Win over Hearts virtually guarantees Celtic the title

Win over Hearts virtually guarantees Celtic the title

Hearts 1 Celtic 3

Celtic effectively clinched their fifth successive Ladbrokes Premiership title with a convincing 3-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.

Forward Colin Kazim-Richards opened the scoring for the visitors in the 17th minute only for Gorgie half-time substitute Abiola Dauda to cancel it out in the 56th minute with an equally fine strike.

However, 10 minutes later Patrick Roberts, the on-loan winger from Manchester City, capitalised on slack play by the Gorgie defence to restore Celtic's lead before striker Leigh Griffiths made it 3-1 win with his 39th goal of the season.

Celtic moved 12 points ahead of second-placed Aberdeen who play the first of their four remaining games at home to Motherwell later in the day but the Parkhead club have a goal difference in their favour of 38 which makes them surely uncatchable.

Win over Hearts virtually guarantees Celtic the title

Boss Ronny Deila leaves at the end of the season with two league titles on his CV and although the campaign has been one of struggle for the Norwegian, he celebrated at the end of the match with the travelling fans who had enjoyed a fine performance from their side against the Jambos whose third place and European spot was already secured.

The game started at a frantic pace.

Callum McGregor, in for Tom Rogic, had the ball in the net in the 12th minute after Gorgie keeper Neil Alexander fumbled a Roberts shot but was ruled offside, controversially, as television replays revealed.

Alexander then made good saves from Roberts and Griffiths as the visitors took control and there was no surprise when they took the lead after another swift move.

McGregor played a reverse pass to Mikael Lustig inside the Hearts box and when the full-back's cross arrived at the back post, Kazim-Richards controlled the ball on his chest and drilled the ball past Alexander at the near post for his first league goal.

Celtic keeper Craig Gordon denied Gorgie forward Jamie Walker and then striker Juanma as the Edinburgh side came back although the flag was up for the latter's drive from 12 yards.

However, the Parkhead men remained on top.

In the 39th minute Alexander came to Hearts' rescue when Griffiths took advantage of a fortuitous ricochet off Nir Bitton to break clear from the halfway line, the Jambos keeper blocking the shot for a corner which came to nothing.

Callum Paterson and Dauda replaced Blazej Augustyn and Don Cowie for the start of the second half and the changes made an immediate difference.

Within two minutes former Tynecastle keeper Gordon had made a fine save from Arnaud Djoum's drive from the edge of the box and although the corner proved fruitless, the home side began playing with more belief and purpose.

The equaliser came when Dauda latched on to a Walker pass, brushed off the challenge of Bitton on his way into the box before firing low past Gordon.

Win over Hearts virtually guarantees Celtic the title

Celtic steeled themselves and came back and when Roberts nipped in to take the ball off Jambos' defender John Souttar who struggled with Perry Kitchen's short pass, the forward found himself through against Alexander and he confidently knocked it between the keeper's legs.

Roberts was soon replaced by Rogic and Celtic returned to the dominance they had enjoyed in the first half.

With four minutes remaining Griffiths turned inside Souttar and drove low past Alexander to confirm the three points and undoubtedly the title, the Scotland striker enjoying the cheers from the away fans as he was immediately replaced by Stuart Armstrong to see out the final minutes.

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