Match Report: Celtic 4-1 Hearts05 July 2022
Ellis Simms opened the scoring inside three minutes but Daizen Maeda, Kyogo Furuhashi, Matt O'Riley and Giorgos Giakoumakis scored for the hosts.
The Jambos started the match brightly and took a stunning lead inside three minutes. Liam Boyce nudged on a cross from Alex Cochrane and Simms smashed the ball home from around ten yards out on his left foot to silence the home crowd.
Celtic had started slowly but began to come to life after ten minutes. Cochrane's defensive header didn't go far enough and David Turnbull ran onto the ball, but his prodded effort was pushed away by Craig Gordon.
Turnbull then attempted to create a goal, whipping in a cross from the left but Kyogo's header flashed past the post. The Japanese striker came closer on the half hour mark when Callum McGregor found him on the edge of the area with a cutback but again Gordon denied Celtic.
That goal did seem to be coming, however, there was a question mark over it. Toby Sibbick carried the ball superbly into the Celtic half and was tripped 30 yards from goal, but no foul was awarded.
Jota collected the ball and drove at Cochrane, rounding him and squaring for Daizen Maeda who fired the ball under Gordon to level. And five minutes later, Celtic took the lead.
A ball was played deep to the back post by Maeda from the left, Jota nodded it down and Kyogo forced the ball over the line - just - despite Gordon's attempts to save.
Into the second half, and the Celtic attacks kept coming. First, McGregor chipped a ball over the top for Maeda but his header was collected by Gordon. Then, Kyogo fired in a low cross from the left that Gordon pushed away before it was cleared.
On the hour it could have been three, the ball falling to Matt O'Riley on the edge of the area. His initial effort was blocked but his follow up with his right foot smashed back off the post and away.
O'Riley wasn't to be denied however, when a Greg Taylor cross deep to the back post was collected by the midfielder and he took the ball down before sidefooting home with his left foot into the corner.
Hearts attempted a response and came close when Stephen Kingsley's free kick from 30 yards flew just over the bar on 73 minutes.
Celtic had the ball in the net again soon after when Jota chipped the ball beyond Gordon but he was denied by the offside flag, while inside the last ten minutes, Boyce brought a save out of Joe Hart with a low shot down to the keeper's right.
Gordon was forced into another save when sub James Forrest tested him with a low effort inside the area, while fellow sub Reo Hatate dragged a shot wide from just outside the area.
There was a late debut for academy graduate Murray Thomas, recently a goal scorer in the Youth Cup Final at Hampden, with Robbie Neilson rewarding the youngster with a memorable few minutes.
But the hosts did eventually add a fourth, when Hatate's low shot was superbly pushed away by Gordon but the follow up was played back to Giakoumakis who volleyed home from close range.
And there was even time for another superb stop from Gordon, who reacted brilliantly to deny Liel Abada who had run through on goal inside stoppage time in the last action of the match.
Celtic: Hart, Starfelt, Carter-Vickers, Ralston, Taylor, O'Riley (Rogic, 77'), Turnbull (Hatate, 64'), McGregor, Jota (Forrest, 81'), Kyogo (Giakoumakis, 64'), Maeda (Abada, 64'). Subs: Welsh, McCarthy, Bain, Bitton.
Hearts: Gordon, Moore, Atkinson, Cochrane, Kingsley, Sibbick, Haring, Ginnelly (Woodburn, 81'), McKay (Thomas, 89'), Boyce, Simms (Mackay-Steven, 75'). Subs: Stewart, Smith, Souttar, Tait, Devlin.