A 5-0 win over Hearts on this day in 2003 was just the eighth win in the 25-game winning streak under Martin O’Neill that season, which went a long way into helping Celtic win the league by a huge 17 points following the agonising loss of the title by just two goals the year before.
Having drawn at Dunfermline on the opening day, it looked set to be another frustrating season for Celtic, despite Champions League qualification. And, ith the only signings of Celtic’s summer window being Michael Gray and Stephen Pearson, there was little to get excited about in east Glasgow in terms of progression from the season prior.
But seven convincing wins – including a 1-0 win over theRangers at Ibrox the week before – was enough to put Martin O’Neill’s men in the driving seat for the title.
Hearts were the next up to try and stop the magical run, but the Bhoys’ equalled their biggest win yet in a bid to continue their dominance.
Liam Miller opened the scoring with his first Scottish Premier League goal of his career after some fine build up play from the Hoops’ forced a rebound that he blasted into the roof of the net.
Things got better just two minutes later; a seemingly nothing throw-in into the Hearts box was flicked on by Henrik Larssonto Jambo’s defender Phil Stamp – who for no reason, headed the ball across the line under absolutely no pressure whatsoever to give Celtic a reassuring early lead.
It was 3 just after the half-hour mark – Henrik Larsson latched onto a dominating header from a goal-kick as the Hearts defence completely forgot about him, and with the whole half to himself, coolly picked his spot to seal a victory.
And if that wasn’t enough in the 45 minutes of domination that Celtic had to endure, Stanislav Varga barged through from a corner with a dominating header to hand Celtic all three points by the interval.
Inevitably, the side slowed down in the second-half as the job was already done – but there was still time for Miller to grab his second; a superb ball down the right from Shaun Maloney found John Hartson, whose square-ball header found Miller to complete a five-star performance.
18th October 2003, Celtic 5:0 Hearts.
Miller(2), Larsson, Varga and an own goal. pic.twitter.com/jlOIc8lbCK
— Li’l Ze (@LilZe_7) October 17, 2021
The team that day was: Hedman, McNamara, Balde, Varga, Agathe, Lennon, Miller, Petrov, Thompson, Larsson, Hartson.
Subs: Kennedy, Maloney, Gray, Douglas, Sylla.