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Celtic claim sixth consecutive SPL crown in Hearts demolition

Scottish Premier League

Celtic claim sixth consecutive SPL crown in Hearts demolition

Celtic claim sixth consecutive SPL crown in Hearts demolition

Russell Cheyne

REUTERS

The Hoops romped to another Scottish Premier Title in 2016-17, sealing another domestic triumph with eight games still remaining.

Celtic sealed a sixth consecutive Scottish Premier League title on Sunday as Scott Sinclair's hat-trick inspired a 5-0 thrashing of Hearts.

Brendan Rodgers' side, now 25 points clear of second placed Aberdeen, set a new Scottish top-flight record as the earliest ever champions after wrapping up first place with eight games still to play.

Sinclair struck twice in the first half before Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts netted after the interval at Tynecastle.

Sinclair's third, via the penalty spot, put the seal on the 48th Scottish title triumph in Celtic's illustrious history.

Celtic are unbeaten in 30 league games this season, winning 28 times.

Having already won the Scottish League Cup and with a Scottish Cup semi-final date against Glasgow rivals Rangers looming, Celtic could land the domestic treble in former Liverpool boss Rodgers' first season in charge.

Celtic's record season

France under-21 international striker Moussa Dembele proved an inspired buy from Fulham, scoring more than 30 goals so far. The 20-year-old's startling success -- he became the first Celtic player in 50 years to score a hat-trick in an Old Firm league derby with bitter rivals Rangers -- left last season's leading scorer and player of the year Leigh Griffiths twiddling his thumbs. Dembele has inevitably attracted interest from the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes -- at least publicly -- that Dembele will stay on for another season. "I believed when Moussa came that he probably had a two-year cycle," said Rodgers. "He needs another year of Champions League experience and the confidence of scoring goals and playing for such a big club, and probably then it'll be time to fly."

Champions League ambition

However, the Champions League remains a different prospect. Celtic did at least reach the group stage of this year's tournament after overturning a humiliating playoff first-leg defeat against Gibraltar part-timers the Lincoln Red Imps but were largely outclassed in the competition proper, with the nadir a 7-0 humbling by Barcelona. Rodgers says he is determined to turn Celtic into regulars in the knockout stages: "I think that was the aim for me to come here -- it was to really build the club and for us to qualify for the Champions League and to get out of the group stages and see how far we can go there. We have to have that ambition."

Recent Scottish champions

2016-17 - Celtic

2015-16 - Celtic

2014-15 - Celtic

2013-14 - Celtic

2012-13 - Celtic

2011-12 - Celtic

2010-11 - Rangers

2009-10 - Rangers

2008-09 - Rangers

2007-08 - Celtic

2006-07 - Celtic

2005-06 - Celtic

2004-05 - Rangers

2003-04 - Celtic

2002-03 - Rangers

2001-02 - Celtic

2000-01 - Celtic

1999/00 - Rangers

1998/99 - Rangers

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