CELTIC wheeled out legend Jimmy Johnstone to switch on two giant new screens which are the latest adornment to their impressive arena, but the Parkhead fans would have needed a video recorder rather than jumbo televisions to absorb all of this illuminating show.
It was four going on 14 as John Barnes' team tore poor Hearts apart and Johnstone, the dazzling winger from the 1967 European Cup-winning team, must have wished he could have joined in rather than sit back, like the rest of the 59,807 crowd. The 1,500 Hearts fans may not have agreed with the verdict as they trooped out early, but they contributed and had either of Gary McSwegan's menacing interventions in the first half found the net, Celtic might have been forced to introduce a caution into their scoring frenzy.
Afterwards, the home supporters lingered around to watch the endless re-runs of the goals from Mark Viduka, Henrik Larsson, and the second half brace from Eyal Berkovic, and really Jim Jefferies' defenders could have done the same because they had little idea of what hit them first time around.
"The one-touch passing we displayed today was excellent," offered a magnanimous Barnes in mitigation, "and it is very difficult to play against." Hearts could have told everyone that after 17 exhausting minutes of the contest when they had resisted relentless pressure from Celtic and already dealt with seven corners. Then Viduka broke their spirit.
Darren Jackson had been robbed by Alan Stubbs, who fed the ball out to Larsson on the right. The Swede's pace was too much for Grant Murray and the chip too high for the central defenders, allowing Viduka to power his header into the roof of the net. The next two chances fell to McSwegan and both times his efforts flashed across Jonathan Gould's goal. Celtic celebrated their reprieve by stretching their lead further in the 37th minute.
Berkovic cut out Pressley's dangerous ball and found Viduka, whose deft touch was then eclipsed by the pass into the path of Larsson who slid the ball under Gilles Rousset. Celtic were perhaps over-elaborate in the second half but Berkovic finally scored twice within a minute.
For his first, in the 71st minute, the little Israeli owed a debt to Stephane Mahe for the perfect cutback which Berkovic swept beyond Rousset, and then Viduka did the same from the opposite flank, allowing Berkovic to bury a header.
Goals:Viduka, 17 (1-0); Larsson, 37 (2-0); Berkovic 71, 72 (4-0)
Celtic (4-2-2-2): Gould; Mahe, Mjallby, Stubbs, Tebily; McNamara, Burley; Berkovic (Petta 75), Moravcik (Blinker, 82); Larsson, Viduka (Burchill, 75).
Hearts (4-4-2): Rousset; Pressley, Ritchie, Murray (Quitongo, 46), Naysmith; Flogel (Fulton,81), Severin, Cameron, Locke (Adam, 46); Jackson, McSwegan.
Referee: J McCluskey (Stewarton).
Bookings: Celtic: Mahe. Hearts: Locke, Pressley, Quitongo.
Man of the match: Lubomir Moravcik.
Attendance: 59,807.Reuse content