SPL: Celtic keep 100% record intact

After the electric display in Holland, Celtic needed a few flashes of Henrik Larsson's brilliance to keep their 100 per cent record intact with victory over Hearts at Parkhead.

Celtic 2, Hearts 0 (full-time)

After the electric display in Holland, Celtic needed a few flashes of Henrik Larsson's brilliance to keep their 100 per cent record intact with victory over Hearts at Parkhead.

Just three days after mauling Ajax 3-1 at the Amsterdam Arena, the all-conquering treble winners returned for another tricky afternoon in front of their home fans.

But manager Martin O'Neill tried to keep his side on their toes by handing John Hartson his home debut, but Larsson again was the man who rose head and shoulders above everybody else.

Bobby Petta's cross almost brought an early goal as Johan Mjallby flicked the ball to Neil Lennon, just inside the box, but his effort was comfortably saved by Antti Niemi.

But Celtic went agonisingly close to opening the scoring in the 10th minute with the lively Hartson involved. The Welshman found space down the right and played a first time ball into the path of Larsson, who fired his volley just wide.

A minute later and Hearts' plan to frustrate were dealt an early blow when Robert Tomaschek was hurt after a challenge from Didier Agathe and had to be replaced by Austin McCann.

Chris Sutton, who surprisingly started in defence in the absence of Joos Valgaeren, Bobo Balde and Tom Boyd, did well at the back.

But he found himself in a more customary forward position in the 17th minute which almost paid dividends. The £6million man rose to meet Moravcik's dangerous free-kick, but glanced his header just wide of the upright.

Celtic did have the ball in the back of the net moments later, but the goal was ruled out for offside after Petta's precision chip had put Larsson through.

The visitors were largely restricted to long-range efforts, but they gave Celtic a double scare in the 33rd minute when first Douglas had to get down to his right to save a superb long-range strike from Stephen Simmons.

Moments later and the youngster went even closer to scoring a shock opener when he headed Steven Boyack's inswinging corner just over the post with Douglas rooted to the spot.

That seemed to spark Celtic into life and Hartson spurned another glorious chance a minute later to mark his full debut with a goal.

Moravcik swung in a deep cross to the back post and with the whole goal at his mercy he somehow managed to head wide.

But Celtic were turned down a stonewall penalty in the 41st minute after former Celtic star Stephane Mahe had handled in his first match back at Parkhead since his £1million move.

The Frenchman blocked Moravcik's shot and then fell on it, but unsighted referee Willie Young waved away protests.

Justice was done, however, just before the break when Larsson rifled home a free-kick from the edge of the area after he had been dragged to the ground by Pressley.

Hearts manager Craig Levein replaced Stevie Fulton in the 56th minute with Severin as he looked to grab an undeserved equaliser, but the home side looked the more likely to score again.

Hearts should have been dead and buried moments later when Hartson spurned another guilt-edged opportunity when he glanced Petta's cross just wide of the mark.

But Larsson showed his strike partner how to finish in the 65th minute to wrap up three more points.

Olivier Tebily found Hartson, who laid it off to the Swede to hit an unstoppable drive past Niemi and into the corner of the net.

Hearts were badly running out of ideas and Juanjo came on for Boyack to provide some spark.

But O'Neill felt the game was in the bag and he gave the Celtic faithful the chance to see Steve Guppy for the first time at Parkhead.

The recent signing replaced the impressive Petta, while Larsson was also taken off for Shaun Maloney.

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