Heart of Midlothian 1-0 Celtic
Saturday 11th August 2018, KO 12:30 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts continued their impressive start to the Ladbrokes Premiership season with a deserved 1-0 victory over Celtic.
A packed-out Tynecastle spurred the boys on and Kyle Lafferty’s stunning second-half volley bagged all three points for the men in maroon.
Manager Craig Levein made three changes that thumped Accies on opening day. Michael Smith returned from injury to replace Aaron Hughes while Jake Mulraney slotted in for Callumn Morrison. Lafferty came back in to lead the line alongside Uche Ikpeazu, with Steven MacLean moving to the bench.
Hearts had the first sight of goal 10 minutes in. Ikpeazu skinned Jozo Simunovic on the left to send over a ball for Lafferty to head goalwards, but it was straight at Craig Gordon.
Three minutes later Hearts had a penalty shout turned down when Mulraney swung a cross into the box and Simunovic appeared to shove Steven Naismith to the deck but referee John Beaton said no.
The Jambos were on the ascendency and 16 minutes in tested Gordon again. Ikpeazu held off Jack Hendry to knock Christophe Berra’s pass into the path of Naismith, and his snapshot from the edge of the box was gathered by the Celtic ‘keeper at the second attempt.
The visitors went close in the 22nd minute when Kieran Tierney’s ball inside to Callum McGregor was neatly touched onto Scott but he flashed his effort across the face of goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
Celtic created another chance just before the half hour mark when Leigh Griffiths’ drilled corner found Scott Brown but he ballooned over the bar from close range.
Lafferty tried his luck with a long-range effort not long after, but Gordon dived to his left to make a comfortable save.
Smith came to Hearts rescue bang on half time. Griffiths darted forward and rounded several maroon shirts before firing past Zlamal, but the Northern Irishman popped up on the line to clear the danger.
The Jambos lost the services of Berra in the build up to that attack with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, and he was replaced by Aaron Hughes.
Zdenek Zlamal had to be alert minutes into the restart to push Mikael Lustig’s shot over the bar after Jonny Hayes had found the Swede in space inside the box.
Moments later Peter Haring got on the end of Smith’s long throw into the box but he could only flash his header wide.
Zlamal was called into action on 55 minutes, denying Griffiths after the striker found space inside the box to drill on target.
Two minutes later the Jambos took the lead. Ikpeau ghosted between two Celtic players to send a ball to the edge of the box for Lafferty to hit a swett first-time volley with the outside of his left boot, which flew into the bottom right corner of the net.
Smith went close to doubling Hearts’ lead not long after. He burst into the box and although his first shot was blocked, his second attempt flew inches over the bar.
Hearts were playing with their tails up and Olly Lee tested Gordon with a low drive from 25-yards, but the Celtic ‘keeper made the save at his right-hand post.
Celtic nearly equalised in the 74th minute after Sinclair was stopped in his tracks by Haring but the ball broke to substitute Tom Rogic, who fired inches wide of Zlamal’s right-hand post.
The visitors attempted to ramp up the pressure but Zlamal was rarely troubled, and the deafening Tynecastle support played their part in Hearts seeing out the remainder of the game and make it two wins from two in this Ladbrokes Premiership campaign so far.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Souttar, Berra (Hughes, 45'), Garrucio, Lee, Haring, Naismith, Mulraney (Bozanic, 74'), Ikpeazu, Lafferty (Cochrane, 80'). Subs: Doyle, McDonald, Morrison, MacLean.
Celtic: Gordon, Hendry, Simunovic, Brown, Griffiths (Edouard, 63'), Sinclair, Hayes (Forrest, 63'), Lustig, McGregor, Tierney, Kouassi (Rogic, 69'). Subs: Bain, Mtcham, Ajer, Johnston.
Referee: John Beaton