To paraphrase Craig Levein, it was a case of “normal service is resumed” as Celtic regained top spot in the league.
A six-goal thrashing of Ross County in the sunshine got the weekend off to a perfect start for Neil Lennon’s men, smarting after defeat at Livingston ahead of the international break.
The Hoops were on fire and the only thing lacking at half-time was a barrowload of goals. Mohamed Elyounoussi gave Celtic the perfect start with a fourth minute strike low into the corner.
Ross Laidlaw kept the score at a minimum, although Celtic should really have been two up in 32 minutes. A flowing move found Elyounoussi on the edge of the box and he played a stunning first-time ball to McGregor who saw his effort come back off the post.
The game was done and dusted while people were still coming back with their half-time pies, as a rampant Celtic scored three goals in four minutes.
First Edouard pounced on a defensive blunder to fire home, before the French youngster played in McGregor to make up for his first half miss. A goalbound header from Edouard was somehow credited as an OG as Celtic blew the Highland outfit away.
Forrest added a fifth on 55 minutes after brilliant play from Frimpong who enjoyed an excellent league debut and he celebrated his assist as if he’d scored himself.
Elyounoussi finished the scoring in the 72nd minute, diverting a Bolingoli strike from close range after unselfish play by Bayo. The Ivorian missed a great chance to make it seven, but a poor first touch allowed the keeper time to react.
Lennon and everyone who watched the game felt that double figures wouldn’t have flattered Celtic. The manager felt that it was perhaps the “most complete performance” in either of his two spells as boss.
He said: “The team was outstanding and there was pure talent out on the pitch. I enjoyed it immensely.”
It was a result that catapulted Celtic back to the summit and that’s where they’ll stay after events at Tynecastle this afternoon.
Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side, fresh from winning the autumn Top Of The League Trophy, looked a bit out of sorts. Perhaps they had celebrated too much after their achievement but they never really looked at the races against the team sitting second bottom of the league.
James Tavernier, one of the players new “guru” Ross Wilson will be tasked with trying to punt as Gerrard looks to “trim his squad”. Wtih few real saleable assets that will bring in any kind of cash, the sporting director will have his work cut out trying to flog the “best right back in the league”.
Tavernier performed what can best be described as a fresh-air diving header to let in Hearts. McGregor bailed him out only for Japanese youngster Meshino, on loan from Man City, to coolly lob the ball into the net.
Even Gerrard laughed at the comical defending after the game as Tavernier was the latest player chucked under a bus by “Liverpool’s next manager”.
Hearts should already have been ahead having hit the bar, but it would be Colombian man-child Morelos who scored next. Fresh from yet another international disappointment, he continued his hot streak of scoring against teams in the bottom half of the league.
He celebrated by bamming up the Hearts fans, which as well all know is something that his manager “won’t understand”. Just as well Andy Halliday wasn’t playing for Tynecastle outfit or he would have lost his rag and went in to “defend his own people”.
Surprisingly (or not, rather) he wasn’t booked by Clancy. This would have implications as the game wore on, with his Bad Alfredo alter ego coming to the fore. Morelos was hooked probably more for his own good after picking up a yellow card for petulance, which would have seen him off had the ref done his job properly at the goal.
It has emerged that Hearts are probing an alleged racist incident aimed at Morelos. Hopefully, any culprit will be identified dealt with appropriately at a club where such incidents seem to happen with alarming frequency.
Despite all efforts to drum up interest in Morelos, the highest bid for the player remains around three million euros, as confirmed by Steven Gerrard. Wilson, like Mark Allen before him, has his work cut out if he’s going to find some
mugs club that will help them somehow balance the books.
As the game headed to a close, Hearts looked the more likely to score but after a game when Kevin Clancy seemed to give most of the decisions to Rangers, most Jambos will have settled for a point. Not least after Scott Arfield chucked himself into Hickey in a desperate attempt to win a penalty, a claim that was rightly ignored.
Hearts leapfrog Hibs, while the Ibrox side are in a familiar position of looking up at Celtic. Steven Gerrard, who is proving himself to be a top rate peddler of mince, will no doubt be telling anyone who will listen that they Hoops deserve to be there.
Elsewhere, Hibs drew 1-1 at Hamilton with under-pressure Easter Road boss Paul Heckingbottom not wanting to be “hypocritical” in his post-match analysis. First time for everything from the incessant moaner.
Injury-hit Aberdeen notched up an impressive 3-0 win to close the gap on third-placed Motherwell. Celtic travel to Pittodrie on Sunday while the Steelmen head to Ibrox, so hopefully both sides suffer a change in fortunes next weekend.
Livingston crashed back to earth with a 2-1 defeat at Rugby Park, a result that sees Killie move up to fifth, only two points off Motherwell in third place.
St Johnstone’s troubled start to the season continues after a 2-0 defeat to St Mirren in Paisley. The result leaves Tommy Wright’s side anchored at the bottom of the table, still looking for their first win of the season.