Livi were taught a harsh lesson by champions Celtic as their unbeaten run against the league leaders was ruthlessly brought to an end at Celtic Park.
After Odsonne Edouard had given Neil Lennon’s side a half time lead, Scott Brown’s deflected effort doubled their advantage before James Forrest’s late double condemned the Lions to their heaviest defeat since returning to the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Gary Holt made one change from the 2-0 defeat to Rangers as Aaron Taylor-Sinclair came in for his full debut in place of Hakeem Odoffin, who dropped to the bench. Chris Erskine returned from injury to take his place among the substitutes.
The home side had the first chance of the match on five minutes, although Ryan Christie would rather forget it ever happened as his effort from the edge of the box swerved out for a throw-in. Jeremie Frimpong then cut inside and fired straight at Matija Sarkic moments later.
Celtic were dominant and Livi had done well to keep them at bay but they were eventually undone on 19 minutes when Christie’s through ball was misjudged by Ricki Lamie which allowed Edouard to run clear and dink a fine finish past Sarkic into the far corner of the net.
Tom Rogic fired a low effort straight at Sarkic from the edge of the box on 26 minutes before Frimpong’s cross found Edouard but his touch let him down and the Livi keeper was able to gather.
Livi then tested Fraser Forster for the first time three minutes later as Steve Lawson found Stevie Lawless but his tame effort was straight at the Celtic stopper. Lawson then volleyed wide from Lawson then volleyed wide from distance after Lyndon Dykes’ cross had been cleared into his path.
A slip from Lamie handed Edouard a chance to double his, and Celtic’s tally on 33 minutes but he could only fire straight at Sarkic. The Livi keeper then made a fine save at his near post to deny the Frenchman after he had got in behind the Lions defence.
The hosts should have made it 2-0 four minutes before the break when Frimpong did well to reach the byline and cut the ball back for Rogic but the Celtic midfielder was leaning back and sent his effort high over the bar. Dykes then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Christopher Jullien two minutes later as the teams went in at the break with just one goal between them.
Half-time: Celtic 1-0 Livingston
The home side were forced into a change four minutes after the restart as Jonny Hayes, who had collided with an advertising board moments earlier, was forced off to be replaced by Greg Taylor.
The substitute was quickly involved and almost grabbed his first Celtic goal on 55 minutes as he got in behind the Livi defence but saw his effort cannon back off the near post. It was only a brief respite for the Lions, though, as the hosts doubled their lead moments later when Brown’s low strike found its way into the net with the aid of a hefty deflection off Jon Guthrie.
Frimpong was causing the Lions no end of trouble and he burst down the right on 62 minutes and fired a dangerous low ball across goal but there were no takers. It was 3-0 two minutes later as Frimpong once again broke clear and, although Sarkic was able to parry his effort, Forrest was on hand to slam home the rebound.
Livi made a double change on 67 minutes as Keaghan Jacobs and Odoffin replaced Jack McMillan and Lawless. Celtic made their second switch at the same time and it was a welcome return to action for former Livi man Leigh Griffiths, who replaced Edouard to make his first appearance in three months. Scott Tiffoney then replaced Robbie Crawford for the Lions eight minutes later.
There was a brief moment of panic on the Livi bench on 79 minutes as, with all three subs made, Sarkic went down in need of treatment but, fortunately, he was able to continue. He then produced a superb save to deny Christie three minutes later.
Livi had conceded no more than three goals in any game since their return to the top flight but that run was ended in the final minute as Marvin Bartley’s misplaced pass allowed Forrest to run clear and slot past Sarkic at his near post as the Lions conceded four goals in a match since May 2016.
Full-time: Celtic 4-0 Livingston
Celtic: Forster, Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Hayes (Taylor 50), Brown, McGregor, Christie, Rogic (Ntcham 76), Forrest, Edouard (Griffiths 68)
Subs Not Used: Gordon, , Bitton, Bauer, Morgan, ,
Goals: Edouard (19), Brown (57), Forrest (64 & 90)
Livingston: Sarkic, Taylor-Sinclair, McMillan (Jacobs 68), Lamie, Guthrie, Bartley, Pittman, Lawson, Lawless (Odoffin 69), Crawford (Tiffoney 76), Dykes
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Robinson, Souda, Erskine
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photo Gallery: Rae Irvine