Hearts L Celtic L

Celtic kept the heat on Rangers at the top of the Scottish Premier League by handing Hearts their first home defeat of the campaign.

The game was over as a contest by half time with Henrik Larsson scoring twice late in the first half to take the game out of Hearts' reach.

Hearts were without injured midfielder Steve Boyack and teenager Dave McGeown came in for his debut.

But the home side were blown away in a whirlwind start from the champions and found themselves two goals down within ten minutes.

Chris Sutton drew first blood in the third minute when he was given too much time in the area to pull down a Neil Lennon free kick before slotting a 15-yard shot past Roddy McKenzie.

Before Hearts had time to recover, Celtic scored a second six minutes later.

Sutton was again involved and when Steve Guppy tried to cash in on his low cross, the ball struck the post and came out conveniently for Stilian Petrov to drill home from the edge of area.

Hearts looked to have recovered with Phil Stamp lashing a shot wide from outside the area and Jean-Louis Valois testing Robert Douglas with a long-range free kick but Celtic stepped up a gear towards half time.

Larsson made it 3-0 with a typical poacher's goal after a Sutton header had come back off the crossbar in the 36th minute and the Swede added a fourth four minutes before the break.

Bobo Balde's long clearance was pounced on by Larsson and he clipped the ball over the advancing McKenzie.

It could have been even worse for Hearts with Larsson missing a gilt-edged chance midway through the first half after more good work from Sutton.

It was a case of damage limitation for Hearts in the second half but Larsson should have completed his hat-trick in the 64th minute when Sutton picked him out in the area but his volley was wayward.

But Celtic were content to use the second half as virtually a training exercise with the points already secured.

Substitute Gary Wales pulled back a goal for Hearts a minute from time when he headed in a Valois free kick