Heart of Midlothian 1-2 Celtic
Saturday 25th May 2019, KO 15:00 | Scottish Cup Final | Hampden Park
Hearts went agonisingly close to emerging victorious in today’s William Hill Scottish Cup Final but were eventually edged out 2-1 by Celtic at Hampden.
Ryan Edwards gave the Jambos a deserved lead early in the second half, but an Odsonne Edouard double late in the game saw the Glasgow side lift the trophy.
Craig Levein made five changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Celtic in last week’s dress rehearsal encounter at Parkhead. Peter Haring returned to the team, Uche Ikpeazu took a spot on the bench, while 16-year-old Aaron Hickey retained his place from Sunday.
Celtic started the game at a high tempo, and earned themselves a few early corners thanks to the work of James Forrest and Jonny Hayes down the wings, but their set pieces were dealt with by the Hearts defence.
The Jambos were looking to utilise the pace of Jake Mulraney early on, and the winger provided some dangerous deliveries into the area that the Celtic backline had to clear under pressure.
One of those Mulraney crosses was cleared only as far as Hickey, but the youngster’s effort lacked power and was easily gathered by Scott Bain, the keeper holding the ball despite some early nerves with the ball at his feet.
Celtic looked dangerous on the counter attack, and nearly took advantage of some slack passing from Hearts in midfield when Tom Rogic gathered a loose ball from Arnaud Djoum. He slipped in Odsonne Edouard, but John Souttar recovered brilliantly to divert the ball for a corner.
It was an astute performance from Hearts, who looked to have Celtic rattled.
Into the second half, and the Jambos started brightly. Djoum and Mulraney combined well down the left flank, and Mulraney whipped in a dangerous ball that was cleared to Hayes who launched a counter attack, but he was greedy and fired a shot wildly over the bar.
However, that move was a precursor for what was to follow. Hickey slipped the ball to Djoum, and his ball across the area was controlled by Clare who flicked the ball into the path of Edwards to score his first goal for Hearts in absolutely stunning circumstances.
Sadly, Hearts were unable to hold onto the lead for long, after a speculative ball found Edouard in the penalty area and Bobby Zlamal was judged to have brought down the striker, who dusted himself down and scored, although Zlamal got a strong hand to it and will feel unlucky not to have saved it.
Hearts came back again, and earned a succession of corners. One such corner saw Michael Smith’s set-piece met by Peter Haring, but the Austrian’s header went over the bar.
In heartbreaking circumstances, Celtic then took the lead with just eight minutes remaining. A long ball from Edwards was headed back downfield by Mikael Lustig and the ball somehow ran all the way through to Edouard who finished coolly under pressure.
Hearts tried desperately to equalise, the introduction of Ikpeazu now giving them a new focal point, but despite two efforts from Christophe Berra, including a diving header that went just over, they couldn’t quite get it over the line, despite a valiant effort.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Souttar, Haring (Bozanic, 80'), Berra, Clare (Wighton, 75'), Djoum, MacLean (Ikpeazu, 78'), Edwards, Mulraney, Hickey. Subs: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Cochrane, Burns.
Celtic: Bain, Simunovic, Brown, Hayes, Rogic (Ntcham, 70'), Edouard, Lustig, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest, Johnston (Sinclair, 71'). Subs: De Vries, Toljan, Bitton, Benkovic, Dembele.
Referee: Willie Collum