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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 February, 2004, 16:49 GMT
Celtic 5-1 Livingston
Stephen Pearson (centre) takes the plaudits after the opening goal
Stephen Pearson (centre) takes the plaudits after the opening goal
Celtic stretched their winning run and their lead at the top of the league with another comprehensive victory.

Stephen Pearson gave them an early lead with a tap-in and Chris Sutton made it two from close range.

Livingston gave themselves a glimmer of hope before half-time when Derek Lilley fired low past Rab Douglas.

But Alan Thompson curled an effort into the net just after the break before Henrik Larsson rifled in a fourth and Thompson scored from the penalty spot.

Livingston were first to threaten in the eighth minute. Marvin Andrews directed Jamie McAllister's cross back into the danger area and Lilley's header was touched over for a corner by Douglas.

John Kennedy then came to the rescue of the home side in the 11th minute with a last-gasp tackle on Fernando Pasquinelli after Burton O'Brien had played him through in the box.

But the Celtic nerves were eased a minute later when they took the lead, albeit with a hint of offside.

Stanislav Varga exchanged passes with Sutton and had time to look up and roll the ball across the face of goal to present Pearson with the easiest of tap-ins.

Andrews should have done better in the 15th minute when he rose above the Celtic defence to head O'Brien's corner wide.

Varga gifted Livingston a glorious chance for the equaliser five minutes later when he was caught in possession by David McNamee before Stuart Lovell rolled the ball into the path of Lilley.

However, Lilley shot straight at Douglas from point-blank range.

Roddy McKenzie saved Lovell's blushes after 24 minutes by stretching to divert his mis-hit back-pass around the post.

Chris Sutton was on the scoresheet for Celtic again
Chris Sutton was on the scoresheet for Celtic again
Celtic increased their lead in the 36th minute when Larsson flicked on Thompson's free-kick and Sutton poked the ball past McKenzie from close range.

The Celtic defence, however, let Livingston back in the game with some terrible defending in the 41st minute and Lilley capitalised to fire low past Douglas.

It took Celtic just three minutes of the second half to re-establish their two-goal lead.

Thompson cut in from the left flank and exchanged passes with Sutton before coolly curling a right-footed effort past the despairing hand of McKenzie and into the corner.

Celtic wrapped up the three points in the 55th minute when McKenzie was penalised for picking up Manu Dorado's backpass and Larsson smashed a right-foot shot home.

The pressure from the home side was relentless and Sutton headed Thompson's corner on to the top of the net, Neil Lennon had a shot saved and Pearson should have scored his second.

With 10 minutes remaining, Celtic sub Craig Beattie was shoved over in the penalty area by Andrews and Thompson coolly chipped the spot-kick into the centre of the net as McKenzie dived to his left.

Celtic: Douglas, Kennedy, Balde, Varga, Agathe, Lennon, Petrov, Pearson, Thompson, Larsson, Sutton.

Subs: Marshall, Sylla, Valgaeren, Lambert, Beattie.

Livingston: McKenzie, McNamee, Rubio, Andrews, McAllister, O'Brien, Lovell, Makel, Dorado, Lilley, Pasquinelli.

Subs: Main, McGovern, McMenamin, McLaughlin, Brittain.

Referee: S Dougal

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