Greg Taylor celebrated his 100th game for Celtic with a stunning goal in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The 24-year-old Hoops defender set up Japan striker Kyogo Furuhashi to fire in his ninth goal of the season in the 10th minute of a game that the visitors dominated.
Taylor, signed from Kilmarnock in 2019, had a decent effort saved by Jack Hamilton just after the break but he beat Livi’s debut keeper in the 53rd minute with a thunderous drive from 25 yards.
Giorgos Giakoumakis hit a post with a penalty in the 84th minute but fellow substitute Jota added a third in the closing stages as Ange Postecoglou’s side restored their four point lead over Rangers at the top of the cinch Premiership.
David Martindale’s side battled for a deserved 1-1 draw with the Light Blues at Ibrox last week but on their own artificial surface they found the champions just too quick, skilful and powerful.
The Parkhead outfit take on Real Madrid in their final Champions League game in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday, with their exit from European football this season already confirmed but they remain a formidable force on the domestic scene.
The big pre-match team news was that 28-year-old Hamilton, signed from Morton in August, was in for his Livingston debut following an injury to Shamal George with Jackson Longridge and James Penrice coming back into the side.
Postecoglou reshuffled again for what is traditionally a tough fixture for Celtic.
Anthony Ralston, Aaron Mooy and James Forrest came into the side with Josip Juranovic, Liel Abada and Giakoumakis dropping to the bench.
Celtic kept the ball from kick-off but it was only after Livi striker Joel Nouble’s effort from a Stephen Kelly free-kick was easily saved by Hoops keeper Joe Hart that they took the lead.
Taylor had plenty of time to slide in Furuhashi who took a touch and from eight yards thrashed the ball high past Hamilton at his near post.
Celtic retained their grip on the game with lone-striker Nouble cutting an isolated figure for the Lions.
Furuhashi looked offside when he went through on goal again in the 22nd minute but stretching under pressure from Livingston defender Jack Fitzwater he knocked the ball over the bar.
Green-and-white jerseys kept flooding forward and Forrest and Mooy both missed the target by inches with drives from the edge of the box.
Hamilton parried away a powerful long-distance drive from Taylor at the start of the second half but when he got another chance minutes later, after Mooy’s shot had been blocked, the Scotland defender returned a thunderbolt which fizzed through the legs of the Livi keeper.
On the hour mark Hamilton carelessly misplaced a pass to Forrest but prevented the Scotland winger grabbing a third goal for the Parkhead side, who by then were completely in charge.
David Turnbull and Abada replaced Matt O’Riley and Forrest before Jota, Oliver Abildgaard and Giakoumakis came on for Sead Haksabanovic, Reo Hatate and Furuhashi.
There was a VAR check when Jota’s cross hit the hands of Livi substitute Andrew Shinnie and referee Willie Collum pointed to the spot after checking the monitor, but Giakoumakis struck the outside of the post with the spot-kick.
But minutes later Jota converted a Turnbull cross to add the third.