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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Young Celts gun down Hearts
Simon Lynch opens the scoring for Celtic
Simon Lynch scored twice for Celtic at Tynecastle
Heart of Midlothian 1-4 Celtic

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Doubles from youngsters Simon Lynch and Shaun Maloney again proved the gulf between the Old Firm and the rest of the Scottish Premier League.

Hearts still had hopes of qualifying for the Uefa Cup until Livingston defeated Dunfermline Athletic earlier in the day.

Yet runaway champions Celtic sent a reserve team out at Tynecastle and delivered Craig Levein's side a humiliating 4-1 defeat.

Celtic manager Martin O'Neill made 10 changes to his side as he rested his first-team players ahead of next weekend's Tennent's Scottish Cup final against major rivals Rangers.

Simon Lunch celebrates his opener with Sean Maloney
Simon Lynch celebrates with Sean Maloney
Youngsters Colin Healy, Maloney, Lynch, Jamie Smith and John Kennedy came into the side along with Dane Morten Wieghorst, who was starting his first SPL game since being struck down with Guillain-Barre Syndrome last season.

Jonathan Gould, Tom Boyd, Jackie McNamara and Steve Guppy provided extra experience as Celtic looked for the win that would take them to 100 points.

Levein made one change, with Steve Fulton coming in for Kevin McKenna.

Hearts started brightly, despite having learned that their Uefa Cup hopes were now dead.

Thomas Flogel screwed an effort wide of the post within a minute and his side had a penalty claim turned down after a clumsy challenge on Ricardo Fuller by Wieghorst.

But Celtic went ahead with their first decent move of the game through teenager Lynch in the 12th minute.

Lynch seized on Momo Sylla's pass to get away from Scott Severin and then clip the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Antti Niemi before making sure by heading into the empty net.

The home crowd finally had something to celebrate in the 33rd minute.

Celtic's defence were caught ball watching as Fuller ran onto Severin's punt down field and held off the challenge of Wieghorst before firing low past Gould.

Hearts' Robert Tomaschek challenges Colin Healy
Colin Healy (right) was given a rare start
But the champions replied just three minutes before the break, with Lynch scoring his second of the game and third senior goal.

Smith beat two men on the right and squared for the 19-year-old to tap the ball past Antti Niemi from close range.

The champions increased their lead in glorious fashion in the 50th minute.

Despite being just to the left of the box, Maloney curled an unstoppable right-foot free-kick past the helpless Niemi and into the top corner of the net.

Maloney grabbed his second in the 65th minute as Lynch pulled the ball back from the byline and the youngster hit a first-time shot past the flat-footed Niemi.

But Maloney blotted his copybook by striking a last-minute penalty against the post after arguing with Lynch over who should have had the chance to complete his hat-trick.

Links to more Scot Prem stories are at the foot of the page.


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