GLASGOW (AFP) - Celtic stayed top of the Scottish Premier League on goal difference from Rangers after running out 3-0 winners over Hearts on Saturday as the Old Firm rivals went six points clear.
Hearts had looked the more likely to score before Jamie Forrest tapped in Daryl Murphy's cross to give the Hoops the lead with a goal on the break that had more than a hint of off-side.
Shaun Maloney doubled the lead just before half-time and substitute Paddy McCourt rounded off the win with a superb individual goal in injury time as Celtic made it four wins out of four.
Rangers warmed up for their Champions League clash against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday with a last gasp 2-1 win away to Hamilton.
In what was his first start since his move from Rapid Vienna Nikica Jelavic headed Rangers into a sixth-minute lead before a second-half own goal from Madjid Bougherra hauled Hamilton level.
However substitute Kenny Miller came to the rescue when his 90th-minute lob preserved the Ibrox side's 100 percent start to the league campaign.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon said his side had been sloppy in possession early on against Hearts.
"It took us 20 minutes to get a foothold in the game. At 2-0 you are not relaxed until the third goal goes in," he said.
"There are aspects we need to improve on but overall I'm very pleased."
Jim Jefferies, who was sent to the stand for his reaction to Celtic's first goal, said referee Willie Collum had blundered by allowing the strike to stand. "There was no arguing about it, the boy was clearly offside," the Hearts boss said.
"You go from a situation where you are thinking that we were unlucky not to be 1-0 up then suddenly we are 1-0 down because of something you need someone to do their job properly and they didn't."
At Celtic Park, Hearts were without Lee Wallace and Marius Zaliukas to injury while Celtic handed a first start to Anthony Stokes who partnered Murphy up front.
It was the debutant who had the first chance of the match when he fired a low drive just wide of the post after being given time and space by the Hearts defence.
Kevin Kyle was presented with a golden opportunity to open the scoring for Hearts.
David Templeton's corner found him unmarked at the back post but his header was blocked on the line by Fraser Foster.
Hearts were rocked when Celtic took the lead with a goal from a quick counter-attack in the 28th minute.
Suso Santana cracked a fierce shot off Foster's post and a ball from defence sent Murphy, who looked off-side, racing clear.
The Irishman's cross from the right got stuck under the feet of Darren Barr allowing Forrest to tap in at the back post.
Celtic should have doubled their lead in the 43rd minute when Forrest sent the ball across goal but Maloney hesitated when all he had to do was tap into an empty net.
Maloney made amends a minute later when he made it 2-0. Stokes sent the Scotland star clear and he rounded Marian Kello and sent a low shot into the net past the outstretched legs of Eggert Jonsson.
Murphy created a chance for himself soon after the break when he barged Jonsson off the ball but Kello gathered the ball at his feet as he tried to round the keeper.
At the other end the pace of Suso was causing Celtic problems and Foster had to be alert to beat away his stinging strike from 15 yards.
Georgios Samaras replaced Murphy and the Greek immediately had the ball in the net after rounding Kello but it was ruled out for offside.
Substitute McCourt completed the win with a superb solo goal in injury time. The Northern Irishman beat three Hearts players before dinking the ball over the head of the out-rushing Kello.
Elsewhere Dundee United defeated Aberdeen 3-1, Motherwell won 2-0 away to St Johnstone, Kilmarnock ran out 2-1 winners over St Mirren and Hibs and Inverness drew 1-1.
|Coach: N. Lennon|
for S. Brown 61'
for D. Murphy 69'
for A. Stokes 77'
|Watford must spend smart, says Hyde|
|Allegri saddened by derby crowd trouble|
|Thompson ´mortified´ after throwing pole into team-mate´s leg|
|Hernandez not concerning himself with future|
|Stranzl to play no further part in Gladbach season|
|Rodgers keen to address lack of goals|
|Giroud cannot fire Arsenal to title - Henry|
|Do not destroy Sterling, says Campbell|
|Fournier: Lyon still dreaming|
|United performance Stones´ best - Martinez|
|Carver: Abuse from fans unacceptable|
|No shame in second place - Pellegrini|
|Humble Hazard thrilled with PFA honour|
|La Liga Preview: Real continue Barca pursuit against Almeria|
|Serie A Preview: Roma eye much-needed win|
|MLS Review: Toronto end drought, Red Bulls stay unbeaten|
|Chelsea to face Sydney in June|
|Liverpool can attract players - Rodgers|
|Bayern celebrate three-peat|
|Hernandez form forces Ancelotti´s hand|
|Hazard crowned PFA Players´ Player of the Year|
|Weidenfeller ruled out of Dortmund-Bayern semi-final|
|Weidenfeller ruled out of Dortmund-Bayern semi-final|
|Ligue 1 Review: Lens´ fate all but sealed, Lyon return top|
|La Liga Review: Hernandez rescues Real, Sevilla up to fourth|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Metz: Injuries prove a frustration for Blanc|
|Serie A Review: Juve made to wait as Parma fight another day|
|Celta Vigo 2 Real Madrid 4: Hernandez to the rescue again|
|Barcelona v Getafe: Iniesta keen to maintain momentum|
|Milan players in ´retreat´|
|United have opened the door for Liverpool - Van Gaal|
|Mourinho hits back at Arsenal fans´ ´boring´ jibes|
|Juve were own worst enemy in derby defeat – Allegri|
|Bundesliga Review: Gladbach victory ends title race|
|Udinese v Inter: Mancini braced for crucial week|
|Primeira Liga Review: O Classico tie leaves Benfica on the brink|
|Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund: Klopp prepares for final Klassiker|
|Russian Premier League Review: Zenit edge closer to glory, Amkar Perm off the bottom|
|Arsenal played with handbrake on - Wenger|
|Mourinho swerves Oscar discussion to hail Terry display|
|Bayern´s title confirmed as Wolfsburg stumble at Gladbach|
|Eredivise Review: Late leveller see Ajax secure Champions League berth|
|Arsenal 0 Chelsea 0: Oscar decision in the spotlight after stalemate|
|Van Gaal bemoans lack of fighting spirit|
|Van Gaal: United to assess Rooney injury|
|Torino 2 Juventus 1: First derby defeat since 1995 puts title celebrations on hold|
|Martinez hails Everton´s ´incredible mentality´ after beating United|
|Everton 3 Manchester United 0: Martinez outwits Van Gaal in comprehensive win|
|Dundee United 0 Celtic 3: Griffiths´ hat-trick edges champions closer to title|
|Alderweireld reveals he has broken shoulder bone|
|Hull City v Liverpool: Lovren expecting another test of patience|
|Leverkusen dealt Papadopoulos blow|
|Five in a row for Champions League winners Auckland|
|Vermaelen cleared to play in Barca run-in|
|Hughes buoyed by Odemwingie return|
|Allardyce hails Adrian heroics|
|Villa confident of staying up - Sherwood|
|Zorc rejects talk of Gundogan departure|
|´Happy´ Hazard rejects talk of Chelsea exit|
|A-League Review: Victory claim Premiers´ Plate|
|Pochettino hoping to strengthen|
|Pjanic critical of Roma spirit|
|Rodgers: No room for error now|
|MLS Review: Revolution win big as Dynamo, Kansas City draw|
|Garcia rues sloppy build-up play|
|Jokanovic eyes title for Watford|
|Blanc: PSG have moved on|
|Hazard worth ´£100m each leg´ - Mourinho|
|Ferguson: United boss can break my trophy record|
|Levante leap clear of La Liga drop zone|
|Primeira Liga Review: Gil Vicente claim vital win, Estoril and Rio Ave held|
|Icardi destined for the top - Mancini|
|Eredivisie Review: Depay inspires 10-man PSV, wins for Heracles and Utrecht|
|Simeone applauds Atletico´s response to European exit|
|Ligue 1 Review: PSG hit Lille for six, Bastia late show stuns Evian|
|Inter 2 Roma 1: Late Icardi strike puts Juve on brink of title|
|Bundesliga Review: Bayern all but champions, Hamburg claim long-awaited win|
|Guardiola focusing elsewhere with Bundesliga almost secure|
|Pellegrini salutes City spirit in Villa win|
|Inzaghi apologies to Milan fans after Udinese defeat|
|Matuidi hails PSG´s best|
|Sherwood lambasts Benteke decision as Villa miss out in late drama|
|League Two Review: Tranmere and Cheltenham lose League status, Shrewsbury promoted|
|Dyche bemoans ´cruel´ defeat|
|Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 2: Fernandinho concludes Etihad drama in City´s favour|
|League One Review: Colchester take survival battle to last day with victory|
|Pardew questions refereeing decisions|
|Bayern Munich 1 Hertha Berlin 0: Schweinsteiger strike all but seals title|
|Ramsey slams referee Jones after disallowed goal|
|Luis Enrique not looking towards title yet|
|Pearson: The win is all that matters|
|Bruce hails improved Hull display|
|Pulis hails ´great point´ for resilient West Brom|
|Udinese 2 Milan 1: Disappointing visitors´ European hopes dented|
|Atletico Madrid 3 Elche 0: Griezmann nets brace as Champions respond to European exit|
|Allardyce laments lack of squad depth|
|Advocaat still confident of survival|
|No loss of belief at Liverpool, insists Rodgers|
|Carver rues ´mad five minutes´|
|Hughes rues Stoke´s missed opportunities|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Aberdeen secure second as St Mirren fight on|
|Championship Review: Watford promoted as Fulham beat Boro|
|Monk revels in new points record|
|Klopp positive ahead of Bayern battle|
|Paris Saint-Germain 6 Lille 1: Lavezzi nets hat-trick as Blanc´s men go top|
|Newcastle United 2 Swansea City 3: Carver´s men continue worrying slide|
|Crystal Palace 0 Hull City 2: N´Doye at the double to give Bruce´s men vital win|
|Watford seal promotion to the Premier League|
|Stoke City 1 Sunderland 1: Adam strike piles pressure on Advocaat|
|Burnley 0 Leicester City 1: Vardy punishes Taylor´s penalty miss|
|West Brom 0 Liverpool 0: Landmark Gerrard appearance ends goalless|
|QPR 0 West Ham 0: Strugglers rue saved Austin penalty|
|Espanyol 0 Barcelona 2: Messi, Suarez and Neymar star for 10-man visitors|
|Koeman rues missed chances|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Eintracht Frankfurt 0: Aubameyang inspires Klopp´s men|
|Pochettino thanks Spurs supporters|
|Fellaini contemplated leaving Man United|
|Southampton 2 Tottenham 2: Point for Pochettino on St Mary´s return|
|Ankle surgery ends Routledge´s season|
|Lopetegui hoping for Porto reaction|
|A-League Review: Glory end on a high, Adelaide hammer City|
|Howedes ´concerned´ by Schalke form|
|Ancelotti hopeful on injured trio´s fitness|
|Bernabeu return a possibility for Pogba|
|Marseille in crisis, claims Bielsa|
|Van Gaal tips Giggs as his successor|
|De Gea the boss in contract talks - Van Gaal|
|Mourinho hits out at Wenger|
|Shaqiri not going anywhere - Mancini|
|MLS Review: Goalkeeping blunder sees Chicago burn NYC|
|Ancelotti confident in Real´s chances|
|No Messi, no Barca claims ex-Bayern ´keeper Pfaff|
|Hamilton Academical 2 Motherwell 0: Canning gets first win as player-manager|