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'
|UEFA Champions League team of the season|
|UEFA Champions League: Borussia Dortmund 1 Bayern Munich 2|
|Ancelotti: No Real Madrid contact|
|Roura calms statue row|
|Eredivisie Preview: Utrecht v Twente|
|Adams calls for Arsenal defensive reinforcements|
|Aguero pens Man City extension|
|UAE Pro-League Wrap: Al Ain secure victory as Al Shaab secure safety|
|Pellegrini tight-lipped on future|
|Keane: Galaxy need confidence|
|Wechsel zu Atletico? Patrick Ebert will Champions League spielen|
|J.League Wrap: Omiya Ardija stay top, Yokohama keep pressure on|
|Jones aims for full pre-season|
|Gerrard hails ´unbelievable´ Carragher|
|Lavezzi wants Rooney to join PSG revolution|
|Beckham´s MLS plans stalled|
|Heynckes lauds Robben|
|Michu aims for improvements at Swansea|
|Zidane unsurprised by all-German Champions League final|
|Hummels hopeful Dortmund success will stop exodus|
|Lescott keen to move forward|
|Cavani concentrating on Napoli|
|Deeney looks to pay back support|
|Fernandes: We got it wrong at QPR|
|Lampard wants new Terry deal|
|Le Fondre: Reading have improved under Adkins|
|Yanga-Mbiwa focused on improvement|
|Zidane: Bale is in world´s top three players|
|Championship Preview: Crystal Palace v Watford|
|Aguero plans to honour City contract|
|Mourinho return excites Ba|
|Polish Ekstraklasa: Widzew Lodz 1 Legia Warsaw 1|
|Oezil keen to stay at Real|
|De Rossi pleads for peaceful final|
|Chelsea, Galatasaray vie for Turan|
|Ballack predicts a Bayern victory|
|Santos accept Neymar bids|
|Atletico plot Negredo swoop|
|La Liga Preview: Espanyol v Barcelona|
|Valbuena: My best season so far|
|Blackburn give Bowyer permanent role|
|Dortmund can get better, insists Klopp|
|Fernandes: No Caterham exit plans|
|Inter appoint Mazzarri, sack Stramaccioni|
|Benitez in Napoli link|
|Adams signs new Ross County deal|
|Heynckes: Bayern are extraordinary|
|Platini: European sports police needed|
|Taylor calls on Coloccini to stay|
|Verratti is going nowhere, says agent|
|Neymar set to leave Santos ´within 10 days´|
|Gill expects Rooney stay|
|Departing Cole thanks West Ham fans|
|Shechter grateful for Swansea support|
|Townsend charged over betting rules|
|Reading release six players|
|Monaco splash out for Moutinho, Rodriguez|
|Rummenigge: Bayern not complacent|
|Giroud seeks improvement|
|Palermo chief welcomes bids for Ilicic|
|AZ bolster defensive stocks|
|Lambert: Benteke needs to stay at Villa|
|Andreolli poised for Inter return|
|Bianchi: Boca players tired|
|Cech: Mourinho a great manager|
|Blatter outlines racism resolution aim|
|Manchester City players coy on Pellegrini|
|Marseille priced out of Damiao move|
|McAuley: West Brom could have done more|
|Osman extends Everton stay|
|Stoke reject N´Zonzi transfer request|
|Carragher retirement ´sad´, says Mourinho|
|Manolev happy to help|
|Europa league winners to get Champions League spot|
|First goal bittersweet for Azpilicueta|
|La Liga Preview: Real Sociedad v Real Madrid|
|La Liga Preview: Pressure on for Euro spots|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Victory only hope for Troyes|
|MLS preview: Second place up for grabs|
|Coentrao heading for Real exit|
|Coppa Italia Preview: Roma v Lazio|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Lorient v PSG|
|Malaga win was catalyst, says Klopp|
|Milan finalise Zapata switch|
|Montella braced for Jovetic departure|
|Simeone will not block Falcao exit|
|Van Gaal talks down Netherlands´ chances|
|Coupet doubts Monaco´s potential|
|Man City edge Chelsea in thrilling friendly|
|Torres wants Mourinho at Chelsea|
|Copa Libertadores Wrap: Atletico Mineiro snatch late draw|
|Galliani dismisses Berlusconi row reports|
|San Lorenzo renew Coloccini pursuit|
|Benteke sparks fears of Villa exit|
|Weidenfeller: We can be heroes|
|Injured Messi called up by Argentina|
|Cleverley taking inspiration from Spain|
|Kellermann proud of resilient Wolfsburg|
|Robben hails dominant Germany|
|Europe the benchmark for Zaccheroni´s Japan|
|Osieck backs Schwarzer to shine|