Heart of Midlothian 0 Celtic 2
Ladbrokes Premiership, Wednesday 18th December 2019 – Tynecastle
Hearts’ woes in this troubled season continued at a rain sodden Tynecastle Park on Wednesday evening as league champions Celtic strolled to a 2-0 win which means the Maroons have now gone six games without a win, five of them without a goal.
Celtic’s victory opened a five-point gap at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership and the champions were always going to be red-hot favourites against a struggling Hearts side. Yet, there was a flicker of hope for the Maroon Army. In the opening half an hour Hearts played with renewed vigour and purpose and a work-rate that wasn’t in evidence against St Johnstone last Saturday. The players seem to be beginning to realise what new manager Daniel Stendel wants them to do even though he’s only been in Gorgie for little over a week.
Hearts, without ever troubling Celtic keeper Forster, were matching the champions in the opening 28 minutes – before they fell to a sucker punch. The ball was played forward to Edouard which drew the attention of Christophe Berra, Craig Halkett and Loic Damour. Three on to one spelt trouble but not for the Celtic player who cleverly backheeled the ball allowing Christie to fire a low shot past Hearts keeper Joel Pereira to give Neil Lennon’s side an undeserved lead.
When Hearts injury curse struck yet again – right back Jamie Brandon limped off to be replaced by Sean Clare – one could see some of the Hearts heads going down. Celtic assumed control of the game and added a second goal five minutes before half-time when Ntcham took advantage of more slack Hearts defending to fire home.
The visitors could well have added to their tally as the rain lashed Tynecastle in the second half. But the gamed ended at 2-0 leaving Daniel Stendel with a huge amount of work to rescue Hearts season.
Saturday’s relegation battle with Hamilton Academical is already looking like a six-pointer.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Bozanic (Whelan, 46′), Mulraney (Henderson, 60′), Wighton, MacLean, Damour, Brandon (Clare, 31′), Halkett, Hickey.
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Brown, Hayes, Christie, Ntcham, Edouard (Griffiths, 83′), Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest (Bitton, 83′).
Referee: Bobby Madden
All photographs: Thomas Brown