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  • Five-star Celts seal six-in-a-row in style

    Five-star Celts seal six-in-a-row in style

    By: Mark Henderson on 02 Apr, 2017 14:28

  • Scottish Premiership
    Tynecastle, Edinburgh
    Sunday, April 2, 2017

    HEARTS...0

    CELTIC...5
    (Sinclair 24, 27, 85 pen. Armstrong 55, Roberts 62)

    SCOTT Sinclair hammered in a hat-trick as Celtic ruthlessly swept aside Hearts 5-0 at Tynecastle to seal a sixth successive championship in style and, remarkably, without defeat.

    Sinclair’s quick-fire double had the Hoops in charge at the break, despite the best efforts of the home side.

    Fabulous finishes from Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts in the second half ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side would harvest the three points they needed to cross the finishing line.

    And there was still time for Sinclair to claim his hat-trick and notch up his 21st goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was felled in the box by Krytian Nowak.

    It crowned off yet another dominant display from champions, and it was a fitting way to clinch the prize in a league campaign in which they have achieved astonishing levels of consistency and produced some scintillating attacking football.

    The Bhoys’ victory over Hearts stretched their domestic unbeaten run since the start of the season to 37 matches, eclipsing a 100-year-old club record.

    And they clinched the championship with eight games to spare, having won 28 times and drawn twice – an extraordinary record.  

    Injuries to Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths saw Roberts spearhead the Hoops attack in the only change from the team that saw off Dundee last weekend, with Dembele dropping out.

    Celtic made a brisk start in the spring sunshine and Callum McGregor had the ball in the net inside the opening two minutes after a slick interchange of passes but the offside flag cut short the celebrations.

    Jamie Walker, who had collected an early booking for a late challenge on James Forrest, replied for the hosts with an opportunist volley from distance that flew wide.

    Craig Gordon was then called into action by Esmael Goncalves after the striker had driven in from the left and unleashed a powerful shot from 18 yards.  

    The home side were playing with plenty of vigour and Gordon came to Celtic’s rescue again in the 16th minute, blocking Goncalves’ angled drive.  

    Straight up the other end, Celtic broke at pace and McGregor spurned a good chance to open the scoring when Sinclair’s delicate delivery picked him out in space at the far post, the midfielder steering his shot wide.  

    It was pulsating, frenetic end-to-end stuff, but it was the Bhoys who made the breakthrough in the 24th minute. Sinclair raced onto Roberts’ return pass in the box, before lashing a ferocious shot into the roof of the net.

    The travelling support celebrated the goal with gusto and they had reason to cheer again three minutes later as Sinclair bagged his brace and doubled the advantage.

    Roberts again was the provider. Receiving the ball near the halfway line, he neatly turned away from his marker and then played Sinclair in with a sublime pass. The winger’s pace took him clear of the Hearts defence and he gave goalkeeper Jack Hamilton no chance with a clinical finish. It was a

    As Ian Cathro’s side battled for a way back into the match and the Hoops determinedly sought to preserve their two-goal cushion, increasingly, the match became bogged down in midfield and punctuated by fouls, with the card count mounting up for both teams.

    It took until the start of the second half before either team started rediscovered attacking cutting edge. First Bjorn Johnsen fired over from the edge of the box and then the champions had another goal disallowed for offside after Forrest’s shot was deflected into his own net by Tasos Avlonitis.

    Celtic, however, didn’t have long to wait until goal number three. McGregor dummied Tierney’s pass for Armstrong and the midfielder accurate finish flew into far corner.  

    Just beyond the hour-mark, the party got underway in earnest in the away end as Roberts scored an absolute stunner. Fastening onto McGregor’s pass, he cut back onto his left foot and curled an exquisite shot into the top corner.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were now in complete command, and with six minutes left on the clock, Sinclair was brought down by Nowak in the box, allowing him to complete his treble from the penalty spot and cap off a sparkling showing in the capital. It was Celtic's 9000th league goal - another memorable moment on a memorable day. 

    And the final whistle was the cue for jubilant celebrations as the manager and his players took the acclaim of the jubilant travelling support.  

    CELTIC (3-4-3) Gordon; Lusti (Gamboa 79), Simunovic, Boyata (Toure 87); Forrest, Brown, Armstrong, Tierney; McGregor, Roberts (Mackay-Steven 79), Sinclair
    Not Used: Bailly, Bitton, Aitchison, Kouassi

    HEARTS (4-4-2) Hamilton; Struna, Avlonitis, Nowak, Sowah; Cowie, Kitchen, Tziolis (Bauben 65) Walker (Martin 65); Johnsen, Goncalves (Beith 71)
    Not Used: Noring, Nicholson, Smith, Currie

    Website Man of the Match: Scott Sinclair

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