Celtic at last got to unwrap the gift that had been adorned with green and white ribbons since before Christmas, when they secured a sixth successive Scottish Premiership title – and a first championship under Brendan Rodgers – with a typically emphatic victory at Tynecastle.
The runaway league leaders trashed Hearts on their own ground with a Scott Sinclair hat-trick, plus eye catching contributions from Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts.
“I told the players beforehand that I was extremely proud of how they have worked and what they have demonstrated,” Rodgers said after the 5-0 demolition. “I said that this would be a brilliant place to do it because our journey in the league began here on the first day of the season.
“They responded with a great victory on a nice pitch, in a really intense place here at Tynecastle and they did that in style.”
Celtic were forced to take the field without their two principal strikers, Moussa Dembélé and Leigh Griffiths, who were both injured.
Their absence had no bearing on the outcome, however, as Sinclair scored twice in quick succession midway through the first half.
In both cases, Roberts took the rule of supplier, first playing a return ball to Sinclair, who beat Jack Hamilton with a venomous rising strike. Roberts’s second prompt put Sinclair clear of the ragged Hearts back line to finish with a low and precise drive.
Hearts’ only chance of preventing a title party on their premises depended upon scoring the next goal but that distant prospect was banished 10 minutes after the break when Hamilton played an attempted clearance straight to Armstrong, whose response was to plant it elegantly beyond the goalkeeper.
The best was yet to come for Celtic, though, and it came from Roberts who took possession with a tidy shift of balance to curl a shot off his favoured left foot into the top
corner. Sinclair sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after being felled by Krystian Nowak, as the clock counted down to party time.
For Hearts, there is the immediate priority of a trip to Perth and the chance to leapfrog St Johnstone into fourth place in the table. Celtic, meanwhile, still seek accomplishment from the remainder of the campaign, in which success in the William Hill Scottish Cup would complete a clean sweep of the domestic honours for only the third time in the club’s history, with the possible bonus of a campaign against native opposition being completed without defeat.