Celtic in the swing

Hibernian 0 Celtic 4 (McNamara 11, O'Donnell 26 Van Hooijdon k 78, Donnelly 85) Attendance: 14,117
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The Independent Online
THE GULF between Europe and Scotland's top sides may be wide but a similar gap is appearing at the top of the Premier Division. Third-placed Hibernian conceded four goals to a Glagow side for the second time in three weeks, this time Celtic taking advantage to extend their lead over them to 10 points.

At this early stage it seems the title is a two-horse race. How realistic is Celtic's challenge to Rangers remains to be seen, but they swamped Hibs with a fluidity and movement the Edinburgh side could never hope to contain. The match was basically over at half-time. At 1-0 down Hibs were reduced to 10 men, but even before the dismissal of Darren Dodds there was little doubt which team was more likely to win.

It took Celtic only 10 minutes to open the scoring with a goal of breathtaking movement and sublety. Jackie McNamara began the move on the half-way line and finished it when he received Simon Donnelly's chip at the edge of the box and produced a delightful lob to beat the Hibs goalkeeper Jim Leighton.

Their play had Hibs constantly stertched and their dominance was too much for Hibernian's Dodds to take. In a tussle for the ball with Phil O'Donnell he snapped, swung his forearm round the midfielder's neck and was sent off.

After that it was only a matter of time before Celtic increased their lead and it came after 26 minutes. Andreas Thom skipped past Andy Millen's lunging tackle and whipped in a cross for the onrushing O'Donnell to score.

Hibs changed their game in the second half but that only left them exposed at the back and the Celtic midfield carved them open at will. Pierre van Hooijdonk made it three when his diving header finished off a John Collins cross. The Danish international Morten Wieghorst came off the bench for his Celtic debut in time to see Donnelly stab in their fourth with six minutes to go.

By this time the Hibs stands had cleared and all that was left was the celebrating Celtic fans dreaming of things, such as titles, to come.

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