An impressive two-goal contribution from Vakoun Issouf Bayo on his first start for Celtic helped them to a routine 3-1 win over Hearts.

Callum McGregor got their other goal, while Conor Washington pulled one back late on for the visitors, tucking home after Fraser Forster had saved his penalty.

Here are five talking points as the champions moved back to the top of the league...


The Ivorian was given the nod to start here ahead of Leigh Griffiths and he made his presence felt as he played a huge part in the opening goal. He may or may not have ultimately got the final touch, but even if not, it was his positioning that forced Christophe Berra into the error.

With Celtic two goals to the good, he then slid in at the near post with Craig Halkett, and while there may have been some dubiety again about who got the final touch, we’ll give the striker the benefit of the doubt. In the end, what is more important is that the forward was getting himself into these positions and causing all sorts of problems with his movement.

Overall, Bayo can be more than happy with his contribution. He was a decent focal point, showing his strength up against Berra and Halkett when required and bringing people into the play with a deft touch on occasion too. He probably should have had a hat-trick as he headed off the post from close-range before succumbing to cramp.

Neil Lennon may now feel that he has a little more strength in depth in the forward position when he wants to give main man Odsonne Edouard a rest, with Leigh Griffiths also waiting in the wings.


For all of the tinkering that Lennon is being forced into during this period, there are some constants that never let him down. James Forrest and Callum McGregor just continue to churn out the performances, and not only that, they continue to come up with moments that have a huge bearing on the outcome of matches.

This time, it was McGregor who made his mark on the scoresheet, picking up the ball from a Ryan Christie lay-off after a surging Forrest cross-field run and rifling it into Joel Pereira’s left-hand corner from 25 yards.

Forrest was playing off the left here for the most part, but it didn’t blunt his effectiveness, causing just as many problems cutting inside as he does from his regular beat down the right, while McGregor showed why Lennon must resist the urge to take him out of the middle of the park ever again as he set the tempo and dictated the play.


Neil Lennon opted to throw Fraser Forster in here for his first appearance since returning to the club during the week – a sign that he is in pole position for next week’s visit to Ibrox? - while he paired Christopher Jullien with Nir Bitton at centre-back with Kristoffer Ajer again filling in for the injured Hatem Abd Elhamed.

On the face of it, a clean sheet would suggest that the latest reshuffle of the Celtic backline was a success, but there were more than a few moments of indecision and poor communication that might have cost Celtic dearly on another day. No more so was this evident as when Jullien allowed a ball over the top to bounce, forcing Forster to come out only to lose the ball and pick up a booking for tripping Jake Mulraney.

It was a moment that typified the anxiety apparent whenever Hearts played the ball up towards Jullien in particular in the first half, who was guilty of being indecisive on various occasion throughout the afternoon.

With so many games at this time of the season, and with Jozo Simunovic’s knee trouble, Lennon is left with little choice but to mix and match at the heart of his defence at the moment, but how he must wish he could play a more settled backline to improve the understanding between his defenders.


If communication was a problem for the Celtic backline at times, it was a nightmare for the visitors, who were a world away from the tight unit that negotiated the Betfred Cup win at Fir Park last week.

The first goal was a disaster for the Hearts backline, with Halkett expecting Pereira to come and collect the cross and Berra failing to deal with the physical presence of Bayo. The sloppiness of Loic Damour on the ball was then punished by Celtic for the second, and the third goal for the home side was also all too easy as Ajer was given the freedom of Celtic Park to cross from the right.

If you are to have any chance when visiting the home of the champions, you simply can’t afford to give them an inch. Hearts gave them a mile, and they gobbled it up.

The consolation of a late Conor Washington goal after Forster had parried his penalty back into his path was scant comfort on an afternoon for the Jambos to forget.


Scotland’s favourite pantomime villain got his usual reception at Celtic Park, attracting a chorus of boos just about every time he put his whistle to his lips. In truth, his performance was a little over-fussy, but in fairness to the referee, he got most of the big calls right.

His decision to award a late penalty to Hearts for a foul by Scott Brown on Sean Clare wasn’t well received by the home fans as the Celtic players cited a possible infringement on Jullien before the incident took place, but it looked like the right call. Still, even on the days when he doesn’t do much wrong, in the eyes of fans, he can never get it right.