STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Celtic all but clinch Premiership title with 4-1 win over Hearts

Celtic took all three points despite going a goal down in Glasgow.

Celtic all but clinch Premiership title with 4-1 win over Hearts SNS Group
Champions-elect: Kyogo and Jota celebrate second goal.

Celtic have all but clinched this year’s Premiership title with a 4-1 win over Hearts that puts them nine points ahead of their nearest rivals.

Ange Postecoglou’s men are now title certainties with a superior goal difference meaning only consecutive 5-0 defeats, against Dundee United and Motherwell, followed by consecutive 5-0 wins for Rangers would take them off the top spot.

It could be rubber stamped if the Ibrox side drop points against Dundee United on Sunday or, failing that, if the Hoops avoid defeat at Tannadice on Wednesday.

Celtic knew a win would mean they would be all but crowned champions for the 16th time since the turn of the millennium 22 years ago.

But it was the away team who took the lead when Ellis Simms scored slammed a close range finish past Joe Hart with the match only three minutes old.

Hearts had the better of the opening 15 minutes with the champions-elect taking a while to find their usual form.

But, as expected, Celtic would soon come into the game and they had a couple of chances to draw level before Daizen Maeda made it 1-1 on the half-hour mark.

The goal came after great play from Jota who put a cross into the box and the Japan international forward turned it into the net through Craig Gordon’s legs.

And seven minutes later it was a 2-1 when another cross from Jota was headed home by Kyogo Furuhashi despite Gordon’s best efforts to keep it out.

Hearts players protested that the ball never crossed the line, but television replays showed the ref was correct to give it.

The Edinburgh side were not ready to give up yet and come out for the second half rejuvenated and were again the better side at the start of the half.

But Celtic grabbed the killer third on the 68th minute when Matt O’Riley controlled a deep cross from Greg Taylor before giving Gordon no chance with a controlled finish.

The Denmark international now has 11 goals since signing from MK Dons in January.

From then on the Celtic fans were in party mode with “champions again” ringing from the Parkhead stands for most of the remaining 20 minutes.

On-loan Benfica star Jota then thought he had scored what would have been a well deserved goal, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Greek striker Giorgios Giakoumakis then put the cherry on top by making it 4-1 from a James Forrest cut back in the last minute of the 90.