Celtic exact revenge on Hearts with win at Tynecastle
Earlier in the season Hearts ended Celtic’s historic 69-game unbeaten run
Celtic’s Callum McGregor celebrates after his team’s win at Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh. Photograph: PA
Hearts 1 Celtic 3
The champions exacted revenge for the 4-0 Ladbrokes Premiership defeat in Edinburgh earlier in the season that ended their historic 69-game unbeaten run, despite conceding an early goal.
Kyle Lafferty’s brilliant volley — his 18th of the season — put the Jambos ahead but Dedryck Boyata headed an equaliser soon after before Dembele added a second and Sinclair scored late on.
John Souttar had a goal controversially disallowed in the first half, but Brendan Rodgers’ side had enough chances to be out of sight by the end of the match.
The defeat brings an end to Hearts’ unbeaten run this season at Tynecastle, which stretched to 14 games after their move from BT Murrayfield.
Despite affording the champions a guard of honour prior to kick-off, Hearts were in no mood to let the visitors settle as the tackles flew in in the opening minutes.
After a flurry of early bookings, the hosts could have been ahead but for Souttar to be penalised for a foul in the box after putting the ball in the back of the net.
They did not have to wait long to break the deadlock however, with Lafferty smashing in first time in the 18th minute after being put through by a fine flick from Lewis Moore over the Hoops defence.
That goal sparked the champions into life but Hearts boss Craig Levein will have been disappointed to see his side give up their lead so quickly as Boyata drifted off his marker at the back post and looped a header into the far corner just three minutes later.
Dembele hit the bar with a deft chip after forcing a backtracking Souttar into an error on the edge of the box as Celtic gradually increased the pressure before half-time.
The teams were not level for long after the break, and it was 19-year-old Moore who was guilty of giving the ball away as he was caught in possession on the touchline, which allowed Tom Rogic — who had been quiet up until then — to turn and play a sumptuous ball with the outside of the boot over the defence.
Dembele took the ball in his stride and slotted in coolly as Celtic took control of the game, and they could have been further ahead as James Forrest curled narrowly wide minutes later.
Rogic almost got lucky with a deflection that bounced back off the post before Sinclair wrapped up the win with an easy third after Stuart Armstrong squared for him from yards out to make sure of the three points and extend Celtic’s lead at the top of the league.