O'Neill hails hat-trick hero Hartson

Livingston 0 - Celtic 4
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The Independent Football

The Celtic manager Martin O'Neill believes that his rejuvenated striker John Hartson got his just rewards after a hat-trick at Livingston last night.

The Celtic manager Martin O'Neill believes that his rejuvenated striker John Hartson got his just rewards after a hat-trick at Livingston last night.

The Wales striker ended a personal four-match goal drought with to send the champions back to the top of the Scottish Premier League with a 4-0 win at Almondvale.

Hartson now has 27 goals for the campaign ­ his best season's total ­ and, with Rangers being left to rue a glut of missed chances against Dundee United on Tuesday night, O'Neill believes Hartson could have hit the goal trail at just the right time.

The Celtic manager said: "John was a bit concerned about not scoring because it was the longest spell he had gone not scoring here. That did not bother me as I knew he would score at some stage or another. The goals and his second-half display will give him an enormous lift."

Livingston's manager Richard Gough was also impressed by Celtic's cutting edge, as the Lions stayed a point behind Dundee United at the foot of the SPL.

"I thought 4-0 tonight was a bit harsh. Celtic finished everything and capitalised on our mistakes, so there lies the difference," Gough added.

Livingston coped well with Celtic until just before the break when Hartson lashed the ball in from close range.

He made sure of the points with a powerful header and added a third from the penalty spot.

Stanislav Varga added a fourth in injury time from little more than a yard out after confusion in the Livingston box.

The closest the home side came to scoring was midway through the second half when David Marshall kept his side in front with a superb save to tip Jason Dair's shot, which was destined for the top corner, over the bar.

Livingston: McKenzie, McNamee, Rubio, Dorado, Bahoken, Dair, Deloumeaux, Vincze, O'Brien, Lilley, Kachloul. Substitutes: Meldrum, McMenamin, Nouma, McPake, Snodgrass, Easton, Brittain.

Celtic: Marshall, Valgaeren, Balde, Varga, McNamara, Petrov, Sutton, Lennon, Thompson, Bellamy, Hartson. Substitutes: Hedman, Henchoz, Fernandez, Lambert, Maloney, Wallace, McGeady.

Referee: M McCurry (Scotland)

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