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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 October, 2003, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Five-star Celtic crush Hearts
Liam Miller celebrates at Celtic Park
Liam Miller scored twice against Hearts at Celtic Park
Celtic 5-0 Hearts

Liam Miller grabbed a double as Celtic swept aside the third-placed side to stretch their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to four points.

Hearts appeared to be suffering a hangover from their midweek Uefa Cup exertions as the young midfielder and an own goal by Phil Stamp put them two behind after only 12 minutes.

Henrik Larsson and Stanislav Varga added to the tally before the break, after which Miller added his second.

Just as importantly for Celtic, defender Joos Valgaeren and striker Chris Sutton were not ruled fit enough for even a place on the bench.

Their absence will make them doubtful for the midweek Champions League clash with Anderlecht, but Alan Thompson was risked in midfield in an attempt to gain match sharpness.

Bobo Balde returned to the heart of the defence following suspension against a Hearts side who ought to have arrived full of confidence after the defeat of Zeljeznicar in the Uefa Cup.

The visitors instead appeared to have their minds on their forthcoming meeting with Bordeaux as they were put under pressure from the kick-off and quickly found themselves two goals behind.

Larsson had already struck the post with a snap shot from an acute angle that foxed Tepi Moilanen before having a hand in the opening goal.

Stilian Petrov broke into the box and poked the ball into the path of the Swede, whose low drive was spilled by the goalkeeper.

Miller was the first to react and thumped the ball into the roof of the net to put Celtic ahead after only nine minutes.

Hearts were visibly shaken and nerves soon led to the second goal, when John Hartson flicked on a cross and Stamp, under no pressure, headed the ball powerfully into his own net from eight yards.

It took Hearts until the 28th minute to threaten the Celtic goal.

Hearts midfielder Phil Stamp cannot believe his own goal
Hearts midfielder Phil Stamp (left) scored in his own net
Striker Mark de Vries, who had shrugged off injury doubts to start, turned past Balde but poked the ball wide from 15 yards.

It was only brief relief for Hearts, with Larsson beating the offside trap before driving the ball low past Moilanen after 36 minutes.

Celtic were scoring with ease and Varga rose unchallenged by goalkeeper or defence to head home a Thompson corner from three yards out.

Hearts head coach Craig Levein had replaced Andy Webster and Phil Stamp with Kevin McKenna and Paul Hartley, but they went further behind five minutes after the break.

Shaun Maloney had come on for Petrov and made the fifth goal with a fine cross to the back post that was headed back across goal by John Hartson for Miller to force the ball home from five yards.

Celtic took the foot off the pedal slightly but Moilanen still had to come to the rescue to block from Larsson as he came close to making it 6-0.

Celtic: Hedman, McNamara, Balde, Varga (Kennedy 68), Agathe, Lennon, Miller, Petrov (Maloney 45), Thompson (Gray 60), Larsson, Hartson.
Subs Not Used: Douglas, Sylla.

Goals: Miller 9, Stamp 12 og, Larsson 36, Varga 42, Miller 50.

Hearts: Moilanen, Maybury, Pressley, Webster (McKenna 45), Kisnorbo, MacFarlane, Stamp (Hartley 45), Severin, Valois, de Vries (Simmons 66), Weir.
Subs Not Used: Gordon, Wyness.

Booked: Webster, Maybury, Severin.

Attendance: 59,560

Referee: K Clark

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