HEARTS were dumped unceremoniously out of the Scottish Cup after a 7-0 humbling at the hands of Celtic this afternoon.
Gary Locke’s administration-hit club were five down before the half-time whistle had even been blown and their misery was compounded after the break when Kris Commons smashed home a penalty to claim a hat-trick and Scott Brown added his second of the game.
Joe Ledley and Mikael Lustig had earlier added their names to the scoresheet as Hearts suffered their heaviest home defeat since the 7-0 New Year defeat to Hibs back in 1973.
Celtic were always going to be a danger after being knocked out of the Champions League in midweek as a result of their 3-0 defeat to AC Milan.
Hearts went into the game on something of a high after taking a step closer to coming out of administration on Friday when creditors voted to accept their proposal of a CVA.
Their optimism, however, was short-lived.
Celtic took the lead after just two minutes and 20 seconds, Commons taking a pass from Ledley before cutting into the box from the left and drilling the ball low into the net from a narrow angle.
They doubled their advantage with 21 minutes gone. This time Commons was on the right-hand side of the box, but his finish was another good one and beat Jamie MacDonald on the angle again.
Callum Paterson did have a chance soon after but could only only fire his long-range effort into the arms of Fraser Forster.
Seconds later David Smith stabbed the ball through for Ryan Stevenson, but it came to nothing, this time the Hearts man firing well wide of the target.
Commons was on for his hat-trick just before the half-hour when he turned and chipped a beautiful effort in from the edge of the box, but MacDonald was up to the challenge and somehow got up to tip the ball over his crossbar.
The game was over as a contest, though, before the half-time whistle had even been blown as the Parkhead side extended their advantage even further.
Charlie Mulgrew and Anthony Stokes were both involved before Ledley got a shot in that beat MacDonald, only for it to come off the keeper’s left-hand post and along the line. That wasn’t the end of the danger though as it rolled back out and straight into the path of Brown, who was only a yard or two out, and he smashed it into the net.
It was four before the break, Ledley smashing home from Lustig’s cross from the right.
And some Hearts fans were already heading for the exits when Celtic made it five with the first-half still to finish, this time a looping effort from Lustig thundering the ball into the net off the bar.
Hearts brought Brad McKay on at the break to replace Smith and pushed Dylan McGowan further up the park as a result in a bid to shore up their leaky defence.
But Hearts conceded a penalty in 57 minutes when Danny Wilson was judged to have handled in the box. There was no way Commons was giving up on his chance to take the match ball home and he stepped up to slot home from 12 yards with his left foot.
The best Hearts could come up with was a long-range shot from Jamie Hamill, which had plenty of power behind it but fizzed over Forster’s crossbar.
Stevenson was replaced by Dale Carrick with 67 minutes gone, the Hearts winger heading straight down the tunnel on his exit from the field.
It was 7-0 in 73 minutes and the goal came despite a fantastic stop from MacDaonld.
The Hearts goalkeeper got down brilliantly to his right to touch a Teemu Pukki effort away but the ball rebounded back out into play and when it landed at the feet of Brown, the Celtic skipper lashed it into the back of the net to put the gloss on the Parkhead side’s resounding victory.
Hearts: MacDonald; McGhee, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Smith (McKay 46), Hamill (A King 79), Robinson, Walker; Stevenson (Carrick 68), Paterson. Unused subs: Hamilton, B King, Tapping, Oliver.
Celtic: Forster; Lustig (Fisher 73), Ambrose, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Biton, Ledley, Mulgrew; Commons (Boerrigter 76); Stokes. Unused subs: Zaluska, Samaras, Balde, Rogic, Pukki.
Referee: Willie Collum