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Celtic break Hearts, Gers keep pace

Celtic maintained their advantage at the top of the SPL with a 4-0 thrashing of title hopefuls Hearts.

The Hoops took the lead after a superb long-range effort from James Forrest, but Hearts kept themselves in the tie, and came close to equalising when Stephen Elliot's strike flashed across the face of goal, but Ryan Stevenson was unable to connect.

Neil Lennon's men ran away with the game after the break; Anthony Stokes scoring twice to all but guarantee the win, before Paddy McCourt sealed the rout, firing in from close range after Stokes failed to net his hat-trick.

Champions Rangers ensured they kept the pressure on the SPL leaders with a 2-0 win at Hibernian. While Celtic ran away with their match in the second half, it was two first-half goals that sealed a routine win for Walter Smith's side.

Madjid Bougherra gave the visitors an early lead before Nikica Jelavic latched onto a Richie Towell backpass to round Graeme Smith for a simple tap-in. Rangers remain five points behind Celtic, but with two games in hand on their Glasgow rivals.

Liam Craig's penalty gave St Johnstone a 1-0 win over Motherwell at McDiarmid Park. Motherwell skipper Stephen Craigan was penalised for his challenge on Michael Duberry shortly after the hour-mark, and Craig slotted home to secure all three points for Saints.

David Robertson scored a late equaliser to salvage a point for Dundee United as they denied St Mirren victory with a 1-1 draw.

St Mirren took a first-half lead through Darren McGregor, but they were greatful to the assistant referee who ruled the ball had crossed the line before it was cleared by Morgaro Gomis. David Goodwillie squandered a chance to equalise, firing a close-range shot over the line, and Robertson's last-gasp header was a well-deserved point for the visitors.

Ryan Jack and Nick Blackman scored either side of half-time as Aberdeen beat ten-man Inverness 2-0. Grant Munro was shown a straight red for clashing with Chris Maguire after only 18 minutes.


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