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Five star Celtic keep tabs on Rangers

25 August 2007 19:30

GLASGOW (AFP) - Rampant Celtic crushed Hearts 5-0 in the Scottish Premier League on Saturday to stay on the tails of Old Firm rivals Rangers.

The champions took the lead through an own goal from Hearts captain Christophe Berra before goals from Italian Massimo Donati, Scott Brown, Dutch international Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Japanese star Shunsuke Nakamura completed the emphatic win.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was gushing with praise for his team's performance.

He said: "That was terrific and everyone watching it would have enjoyed it apart from the Hearts fans.

"We know how hard Hearts have made it for us recently but after today and last week's win at Aberdeen we've now scored eight goals in two games against teams that finished in the top four last season.

"You just want to win games but you have to enjoy days like this."

Earlier Rangers had maintained their 100 per cent record with a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock to stay top of the table on 12 points - two ahead of Celtic.

American winger Damarcus Beasley had put them ahead in the second half and although Killie's Australian Danny Invincibile had levelled, French forward Jean-Claude Darcheville secured all three points for the Gers.

At Celtic Park the home side were ahead in the ninth minute.

Australian international Scott McDonald picked out Nakamura with a chip across the face of goal and the Japanese playmaker's shot deflected off Hearts captain Berra to wrong-foot goalkeeper Steve Banks.

Celtic were in complete control of the contest and were playing some fantastic attacking football.

It was no surprise when they went two up in the 22nd minute with a fantastic individual goal by Donati.

Picking the ball up in the middle of the park the Italian drove forward, rounded Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart, evaded the challenge from Berra and shot across Banks into the opposite corner of the net.

Celtic made it 3-0 in the 61st minute when Aiden McGeady's cross was headed back across goal by Dutch international Vennegoor of Hesselink and former Hibs midfielder Scott Brown was on hand to volley home his first goal for Celtic.

Two minutes later Nakamura skinned Berra in the penalty box and the frustrated Hearts defender promptly brought him to the ground.

Referee Iain Brines pointed to the spot and Vennegoor of Hesselink smashed the ball home from 12-yards.

And in the 79th minute man-of-the-match Brown made a powerful drive through the centre of the Hearts defence before knocking the ball to Nakamura who sent it past Banks with a cool flick of his left foot to make it 5-0.

A bleak day for Hearts got worse when Neil McCann was stretchered off with a suspected fractured ankle late on.

Hearts' despondent first team coach Stephen Frail said: "I have no complaints. We were outfought, outclassed and outplayed.

"There is no team spirit and we will have to work hard to build one."

In the other SPL games St Mirren won 1-0 at Falkirk with Billy Mehmet scoring late on.

Motherwell were 2-1 winners in an away match against Gretna.

Well's Keith Lasley put them ahead and Abdul Osman levelled for Gretna. Chris Porter then restored Motherwell's lead after Gretna's Craig Barr was sent-off early in the second half.

In a six goal thriller at Easter Road Hibernian drew 3-3 with Aberdeen.

Moroccan Merouane Zemmama put Hibs ahead before a double from Craig Brewster and one from Jamie Smith put the Dons 3-1 ahead.

However, Steven Fletcher pulled one back for Hibs and Dean Shiels levelled.

Dundee United won 3-0 at Inverness Caledonian Thistle with a Sean Dillon goal and two penalties from Barry Robson.

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Info

Competition
Premiership
Date
25 August 2007
Kick-off
16:00
Half-time
2 - 0
Full-time
5 - 0

Goals

C. Berra (OG) 9'  
1 - 0
M. Donati 22'  
2 - 0
S. Brown 61'  
3 - 0
4 - 0
5 - 0

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