AS if an emphatic five goal victory over Hearts wasn’t reason enough for Celtic supporters to celebrate.

The Parkhead fans were thoroughly enjoying this romp over the bottom-placed club in the Ladbrokes Premiership as it was when word filtered through to them that Rangers had conceded an equaliser to Kilmarnock down at Rugby Park. Cue widespread rejoicing.

When it became clear that Alex Dyer’s men had notched a late winner against Steven Gerrard’s team jubilant scenes erupted in the packed stands. They broke into an impromptu “huddle” and belted out chants of “Here We Go To 10-In-A-Row” and “Champions Again”. With good reason.

Neil Lennon’s team may, courtesy of an Olivier Ntcham strike in the first-half and goals from Christopher Jullien, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Jozo Simunovic in the second, have romped to a resounding victory with a hugely impressive display.

But it was events elsewhere last night which gave those in attendance just as much, if not more, pleasure. With the defending champions now 10 points clear at the top of the table it is impossible to see them being caught. The game in hand their nearest challengers have is now an irrelevance.

Thoughts at Celtic last night, though, were very much with the plight of one of their favourite sons, not just the fortunes of the side and their bid to win a record-equalling ninth Premiership this season.

With Jackie McNamara in hospital in England after collapsing at his home at the weekend and undergoing surgery for a bleed on the brain, the crowd was keen to show their support for the ex-player every bit as much as the team.

The Green Brigade unfurled a banner which read “Keep The Faith Jackie” soon after the game kicked off and chanted his name soon after. The outcome of a football match and a league is insignificant in comparison compared to the health and wellbeing of a husband, a son, a father.

Still, this win, which will prove a defining moment in the 2019/20 campaign come May, was of huge importance. McNamara, who enjoyed so much success in the memorable 10 year spell he spent in the East End of Glasgow in the 1990s and 20002, will doubtless have approved.

This was the treble treble winners’ second match with Hearts since German coach Stendl since he was appointed at Tynecastle back in December. They won their previous encounter comfortably and the capital club once again posed then few problems. The Gegenpressen, or Stendlball as it has been dubbed, failed to trouble them.

The visitors welcomed back Anthony McDonald, Naismith, John Souttar, Jamie Walker after their William Hill Scottish Cup win over Falkirk on Saturday. That quartet were unable to help their team to their first result at the venue in four-and-a-half years.

Jamie Walker had a week effort easily saved by Fraser Forster, the Celtic keeper palmed away the free-kick which Ben Garuccio dinked over the defensive wall in the opening 45 minutes and Walker fired a long-range effort wide. But that was the sum total of their attempts on goal in the 90 minutes.

Ntcham was gifted the opener on the half hour mark after Joel Pereira pushed a curling Odsonne Edouard shot to his feet. The French midfielder casually side-footed beyond the outstretched Portuguese goalkeeper.

The hero of the Europa League win over Lazio in Rome is enjoying an extended run in the Celtic team thanks in no small part to the 3-5-2 formation his manager is currently favouring. He is justifying his inclusion. His goal last night was his third in five games. His all-round performance was excellent.

The Celtic fans were barely back in their seats after their half-time pies and Bovrils when Jullien doubled their lead. The centre half rose above Craig Halkett to meet a Griffiths corner in the 46th minute and headed powerfully beyond Pereira.

Both Jozo Simunovic and Scott Brown struck the right post during a penalty box scramble after another Griffiths corner soon after that. But it wasn’t long before they added another. McGregor played a one-two with Greg Taylor and rifled a shot into the bottom right corner in the 52nd minute.

Assured of the triumph, Lennon took off Griffiths and replaced him with Christie. His first substitute of the evening made it four just three minutes after taking to the field. He met a Taylor delivery with an effort that deflected off Halkett and in.

Forrest soon made way for Mohammed Elyounoussi. By that stage it was a procession. Simunovic made it five when he met a Christie corner and nodded in.

When Marcel Langer was shown a straight red card by Willie Collum in the closing stages it highlighted the Hearts players’ frustrations. But nobody in the Celtic camp was feeling that emotion at the end of what was a momentous evening.