31.03.2024 16:42 h

Celtic rout Livingston to regain top spot

Champions Celtic surged back to the top of the Scottish Premiership with a 3-0 win against lowly Livingston on Sunday.

Serving a one-match touchline ban, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers watched from the stands as his side turned on the power after half-time.

An own goal early in the second half from Jamie Brandon broke the hosts' resistance.

Goals from substitute Paulo Bernardo and Matt O'Riley ensured Celtic are one point clear of second placed Rangers, who had taken pole position with their win against Hibernian on Saturday.

Celtic will visit Glasgow rivals Rangers -- who have a game in hand -- next Sunday for a crucial clash in a tense title race.

The defeat left Livingston 10 points adrift of Ross County at the foot of the table with just seven games remaining.

"The boys were very good, very professional. We didn't give Livingston very much at all in terms of territory," Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy said.

"In our attacking play, we stuck at it. We showed that calmness, which is important at this time of year.

"It's easy to get dragged into panic mode and think that you need to go chasing a win, but we stayed with our performance. We were relentless and eventually it breaks for you."

Celtic' Japanese midfielder Reo Hatate pinged a shot just over the bar in the fifth minute.

An incisive move in the 24th minute allowed Alistair Johnston to fizz in a powerful cross from the right, but it had too much power on it for Kyogo Furuhashi to be able divert the ball towards goal.

Towards the interval, Hatate curled an effort just wide from 20 yards out before Livingston keeper Shamal George saved well from Furuhashi.

Celtic finally took the lead in the 49th minute as Hatate's shot from six yards was saved by George and ricocheted in off the unfortunate Brandon.

In the 72nd minute, Bernardo bagged Celtic's second with a fierce low strike from 20 yards after playing a one-two with O'Riley.

O'Riley sealed the victory in the 83rd minute when his low shot from just inside the box squirmed under George into the net.