First team

Match Report: Hearts 2-0 Celtic

03 March 2024

Heart of Midlothian were worthy winners over Celtic at Tynecastle Park early on Sunday afternoon after sticking two past the Glasgow side without reply.


Jorge Grant and Lawrence Shankland were the heroes at one end while Zander Clark was at the other by saving a first-half penalty, in a pulsating match which saw Celtic reduced to ten men.


Head Coach Steven Naismith made five changes from the side that drew in midweek’s Edinburgh derby. Grant, Beni Baningime, Kye Rowles, Toby Sibbick and Dexter Lembikisa all came in to the starting line up with Cammy Devlin, Natty Atkinson and Scott Fraser moving to the bench while Frankie Kent and Kenneth Vargas missed out through injury.


The game started fast-paced, with both sides intent on attacking each other’s goal. The game’s first chance game through a Jambos break down the right, with Shankland’s ball across the box finding Alex Cochrane at the edge of the box but he hammered a half-volley into the ground and wide of Joe Hart’s left-hand post.


Controversy reigned 13 minutes in when Hyunyun Yang went down under a challenge with Alex Cochrane. Referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot though it looked like the Celtic man had cut across Cochrane to get the contact. Not to matter, as Adam Idah stepped up and Zander Clark made a fantastic stop with his legs to keep the scores level.


Moments later the referee was summoned to the VAR screen after originally awarding a yellow card to Yang for a head height challenge with his foot on Cochrane. After checking, the yellow was cancelled and a straight red issued for serious foul play, taking the visitors down to ten men.


Celtic did have the ball in the back of the net on 23 minutes through Matt O’Riley, but the flag went straight up for offside earlier in the build up.


Hearts again threatened down the right just before the half hour mark, with Lembikisa crossing for Alan Forrest to meet, but he had to stoop to make the connection with his head, sending the ball high and wide.


Celtic gave a timely reminder of how dangerous they could be only minutes later, when Daizen Maeda met O’Riley’s corner unchallenged to bullet a header narrowly over the bar.


Au sublime move saw Hearts go close to taking the lead with six minutes of the half remaining. Lembikisa played a tremendous through ball for Nieuwenhof, who crossed for Shankland but his goalbound shot was deflected behind by Liam Scales.


VAR took centre stage once again before the half was out, retrospectively awarding the Jambos a penalty for handball against Iwata inside the box. Grant stepped up and sent Hart the wrong way, giving the boys in maroon the lead.


Celtic immediately went in search of the equaliser, with Idah dragging an effort just wide from distance.


Five minutes into stoppage time the Jambos appeared to make it 2-0 courtesy of a quick breakaway, with Forrest tearing through the middle before slipping in Shankland, who calmly sidefooted beyond Hart and into the back of the net. Agonisingly, after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was disallowed for the tightest of offsides.


Both sides continued to go hell for leather after the restart. Seven minutes in, Cochrane and Grant worked a lovely move down the left to get the ball out to Nieuwenhof, who teed himself up for a shot at goal but it was straight at Hart.


Soon after, Cameron Carter-Vickers met a corner but could only head over the bar.


The second goal did come on 56 minutes and it was, once again, for the Jambos. Shankland showed great skill to keep the ball away from Scales before playing in Nieuwenhof, who slipped at the crucial moment, however he still managed to divert the ball back into the path of Shankland and he arrowed a low shot into Hart’s far corner to make it 2-0.


The visitors showed no signs of letting up, with substitute Kyogo Furuhashi weaving his way to the edge of the box to pull off a shot but it sailed into Clark’s arms.


Furuhashi was in the mix again on 70 minutes, getting on the end of a low cross into the six-yard box but Clark dived to make a smart block and deny Celtic a foothold back into the game.


At the other end, Cochrane sent Forrest running down the left, he floated a ball into the box for Shankland to head on target but he was too far out to generate any real power and Hart gathered comfortably.


Clark came to the rescue with 12 minutes remaining when Furuashi dashed towards the Hearts box before slipping in Idah, but his powerful effort was well beaten away by the Jambos keeper.


Substitutes Kyosuke Tagawa and Macaulay Tait nearly put the icing on the cake in the 83rd minute, with the former running the length of the park before finding the latter, who took the ball to the edge of the box before getting off a shot but he could only fire straight at Hart.


Clark was again on hand to deny Celtic a route back into the game as Idah pounced on a loose ball to hit a snapshot from inside the box but the Scotland keeper made a great stop with his left leg.


An entertaining end to a thoroughly entertaining game in which Heart of Midlothian ran out as deserved winners.


Hearts: Clark, Kingsley, Baningime, Grant (Tait, 70’), Nieuwenhof (Devlin, 79’), Shankland ©, Rowles, Forrest (Tagawa, 79’), Cochrane, Sibbick, Lembikisa. Subs: Gordon, Atkinson, Denholm, Pollock, Fraser, Wilson.


Celtic: Hart, Johnston, Taylor, Scales, Idah, Yang, Cameron-Vickers, Iwata (Kelly, 78’), Bernardo (Furuhashi, 45’), O’Riley, Maeda. Subs: Bain, Lagerbeilke, Palma, Kuhn, Holm,, Ralston, Welsh.