GLASGOW (AFP) - Celtic crushed Inverness Caledonian Thistle 5-0 at Parkhead on Saturday to move top of the Scottish Premier League for the first time this season.
A double for Dutch striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, sandwiching superb individual efforts by Italian Massimo Donati and Japan's Shunsuke Nakamura, and finally a Philip Maguire own goal, meant Gordon Strachan's side leapt above Rangers - who lost 4-2 away to Hearts.
The Celtic manager was a happy man at the end but praised Caley for their performance.
Strachan said: "It was a good day at the office. To get five goals, play good open football and go top of the league then you have to be happy.
"But Caley surprised us with their enterprise for a side bottom of the league and they had a smashing game."
Celtic took the lead in the 15th minute, after Australian forward Scott McDonald turned away from two defenders and found Nakamura with a reverse path.
The Japanese playmaker fed the ball to Scott Brown and, although his shot from 20-yards was heading wide, Vennegoor of Hesselink used his thigh to divert it past goalkeeper Michael Fraser from eight-yards.
Celtic's Polish keeper Artur Boruc needed to make a fantastic one-handed save in the 33rd minute to push Don Cowie's first-time shot, from 20-yards, round the post.
But in the 41st minute Celtic's Italian midfielder Donati doubled his side's advantage with a superbly taken goal.
After playing a one-two with McDonald the former AC Milan player skipped past Ross Tokely and, from a seemingly impossible angle, curled the ball past Fraser into the opposite corner of the net.
Nakamura put Celtic three up in the 56th minute with another spectacular goal, unleashing an unstoppable left-shot from 30-yards into the top corner.
And two minutes later McDonald's cross found Vennegoor of Hesselink at the back post and his downward header found the net.
In the 67th minute Caley's Romanian Marius Niculae fired a shot off the post and Don Cowie's follow-up was cleared off the line by Celtic captain Stephen McManus.
However, three minutes later McDonald was again involved as Celtic scored a fifth goal when his cutback deflected off Caley defender Maguire to wrong-foot Fraser.
Inverness manager Craig Brewster thought his side were unlucky to lose so heavily.
He said: "Some of the football we played was excellent. Not many teams create as many chances against the champions but Boruc made two or three wonder saves and showed why he is the Celtic number one.
"We had a go and will do so in every game no matter who we're playing."
Earlier on Saturday Rangers were looking to maintain their 100 percent record away to Hearts.
However, the home side were 2-0 up at half-time through Andrew Driver and Senegal defender Ibrahim Tall.
Gabon international Daniel Cousin scored a penalty for Rangers at the start of the second half but Hearts went 4-1 up through a Michael Stewart penalty and a goal from Lithuanian Kesuttis Ivaskevicius.
Rangers American winger Darmarcus Beasley completed the scoring.
In the other SPL games Motherwell won 2-1 away to Aberdeen. Paul Quinn and Chris Porter put them in the driving seat by the break, with Jamie Smith pulling one back for the Dons.
Falkirk drew 1-1 at home to Hibernian, with Portuguese striker Pedro Moutinho scoring for the Bairns in the second half, after an early Clayton Donaldson penalty.
Kilmarnock were 2-1 winners away to Gretna, courtesy of first half goals from Willie Gibson and Ryan Jarvis, with Gavin Skelton scoring in injury time for the home side.
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