New signing Teemu Pukki grabbed a debut goal and Anthony Stokes scored one and set up two more as Celtic prepared for the Champions’ League with a comfortable win.
Kris Commons opened the scoring from the spot in the 18th minute after Hearts midfielder Jamie Hamill was controversially penalised for handling Stokes’s header.
And even though Jason Holt equalised for Hearts in the 56th minute with a deflected drive from the edge of the box, Stokes put Celtic back in front after 65 minutes with an unstoppable volley from 12 yards before setting up substitute Pukki, signed from Schalke, to make it 3-1. It was a good work-out for Neil Lennon’s team before they face Milan in the San Siro on Wednesday.
However, Hearts remain bottom of the table on minus eight points as they try to recover from the 15-point penalty for going into administration.
Celtic got the breakthrough when referee Willie Collum ruled that Hamill had handled as he challenged Stokes, although he would have struggled to get out of the way. Commons drove the penalty past Jamie MacDonald.
There was an element of fortune with Hearts’ leveller just before the hour as Holt’s drive took a deflection before beating Fraser Forster.
But seven minutes later, Commons sent Stokes through with a clever header and he thrashed the ball past MacDonald from 12 yards.
Pukki replaced Commons, and when he was set up brilliantly by Stokes with five minutes left, he headed into the corner to seal the win.
Lennon thought his side should have won by more. “We had so many good chances,” he said. “With a little bit more care on the final pass we could have won more comfortably.
“The most important thing is we’re winning games.”
Hearts boss Gary Locke said: “Today’s result is not going to define our season, not games against Celtic. The teams around us are the games where we’ve got to pick up points.”
Hearts (4-4-1-1): MacDonald; McGowan, McKay, Wilson, McHattie; Holt (Carrick, 74), Robinson, Hamill, Walker (Oliver, 82); B King (Smith, 67); Paterson.
Celtic (4-4-1-1) Forster; Lustig, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Matthews (Samaras, 44), Brown, Ledley (Mulgrew, 66), Boerrigter; Commons (Pukki, 74); Stokes.
Referee: Willie Collum.