Neil Lennon praised his Celtic players for blowing Hearts away last night and challenged them to start performing as well at home as they do on the road.
The champions maintained their lead in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League with a convincing 4-0 victory at Tynecastle – Lennon's 100th competitive win as manager – and delivered the performance he had demanded after defeat by Caledonian Thistle at the weekend.
Lennon admitted his priority now was to motivate the team to play as well in Parkhead league games as they do away. Celtic have failed to beat Kilmarnock, St Johnstone and Caley Thistle in their last three home league games. "I want us to be consistent," he said. "It was a great performance tonight, particularly in the first half.
"You could tell over the last couple of days there was a real intensity about them and we got the reaction I was looking for. They are young and there are times when they let themselves down a bit with their consistency, so we need to find that consistency, but once we do that we'll take some stopping. We have to find a reason for why things aren't going so well at home."
Lassad, Mikael Lustig, Gary Hooper and a Ryan Stevenson own goal won it for Celtic although their outstanding player was goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who saved everything which came at him including a late penalty. "Fraser has been a huge player in terms of qualifying for the Champions League and through the group stage. I know people were saying 'don't go to Glasgow, your career will go backwards' but he's done the opposite, he's gone forward in a big, big way. I think he's one of the best around now."
Forster himself admitted the players had reacted to a dressing down from Lennon, whose response to the weekend defeat had even included a threat to resign if the support were unhappy with him. "There were some harsh words at the weekend, you can't drop the number of home points we have," said Forster. "I think we had a bit of a European hangover at the weekend. Saturday was unacceptable. The gaffer asked for a reaction and he got one. I made a few saves, I was just doing my bit for the team."
Hearts have now lost 4-0 in their last two home games against Celtic although manager John McGlynn said his young side had not deserved such a beating last night. "I think the scoreline was harsh on us because we put an awful lot into the game. I didn't think it was a 4-0, the stats were a lot closer than the scoreline. Celtic were clinical on the night, they took their chances."
Hearts now face Hibernian at Easter Road in the Scottish Cup on Sunday but Jason Holt and Dylan McGowan are doubtful for the derby after suffering knocks last night.