Kyogo Furuhashi scored twice in the first half as Celtic defeated Hearts 3-0 on Saturday to move six points clear of rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premiership title race.

Rangers host Kilmarnock on Sunday for their game in hand, but Celtic, who also have a better goal difference, remain in control of the title race as things stand.

Celtic will then host Rangers in next week's pivotal Old Firm derby.

Lawrence Shankland almost gave Hearts a dream start when his effort deflected just wide in the opening minute, but from that point on, despite some strong spells of play in the opening half, they never looked likely to record what would have been their third consecutive win over Celtic.

Kyogo had Celtic two goals up inside 21 minutes in a hammer blow to Hearts, who are all but certain to finish in third place this season.

A Matt O'Riley penalty three minutes from time ended any faint hopes of a Hearts comeback, sealing a result that puts further pressure on Rangers.

Data Debrief: O'Riley key to Celtic success

Kyogo's early header was set up by Reo Hatate, while it was O'Riley who set up the second goal with a superb pass that the Japan international met with a first-time finish.

O'Riley, who later added his penalty, now has 14 goals and 12 assists in the Premiership this season. His goal tally is the highest of any Celtic player, while the creative total is the best in the whole league.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson accepts Socceroos forward Garang Kuol is not the "finished article" but is thrilled to land the 18-year-old on loan from Newcastle United.

The Edinburgh club confirmed the temporary signing – subject to international clearance – of Kuol from the Premier League side on Thursday, reportedly beating several Championship clubs to him.

Kuol impressed with two cameos for Australia at the 2022 World Cup, where the Socceroos reached the round of 16 for the second time.

In September, the teenager agreed a pre-contract deal to join Newcastle in January from A-League club Central Coast Mariners, with the Magpies eager to loan him out for first-team experience.

The Egypt-born talent only debuted for Central Coast in December 2021 and made just 22 first-team appearances – netting seven goals – before joining Newcastle.

"It's fantastic news that Garang has committed himself to Hearts for the next six months," Neilson said.

"It's no secret that we were extremely interested in him and he came up for a look around last week. He was impressed with what he saw and what we're trying to do here, which is pleasing.

"We're getting a player who is by no means the finished article but there is a lot of talent there – you don't get called up to and play in the World Cup for nothing.

"He'll offer us new options going forward as we look to continue our good form and continue to make progress in the league and in the Scottish Cup, and we're really looking forward to working with him."

Kuol joins fellow Australians Kye Rowles, Cammy Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson at Hearts. All four were part of the Socceroos' World Cup squad.

"The gaffer also persuaded me to come here with the plan that he put to me for my development," Kuol said.

"Overall, the club has great ambitions and goals, and that was something I wanted to be involved in. I think it was a very good decision."

Hearts are third in the Scottish Premiership with 32 points from 20 games, 26 points behind leaders Celtic.

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