Heart of Midlothian 0-3 Celtic
Sunday 28th October 2018, KO 13:30 | Betfred Cup SF | BT Murrayfield
Hearts were beaten 3-0 by Celtic at the semi-final stage of the Betfred Cup.
0-0 at half-time, goals from Scott Sinclair, James Forrest, and Ryan Christie downed the Jambos who lost the services of Steven Naismith after only five minutes.
The atmosphere was electric as Steven MacLean got proceedings underway in front of just under 30,000 Hearts fans at BT Murrayfield.
Craig Levein made two changes to the side that won 3-0 away to Dundee through the week. Olly Lee and Peter Haring both reclaimed their starting berths with Harry Cochrane and Callumn Morrison dropping to the bench.
Hearts stand-in captain Steven Naismith went down after only five minutes with no one around him. He could not continue and Danny Amankwaa was the man to replace him.
Celtic were forced into an early change of their own after 25 minutes with Scott Sinclair coming on to replace Eboue Kouassi.
There were very few clear cut-chances in the opening half-hour with Celtic dominating possession and territory but unable to test Zdenek Zlamal in the Hearts goal.
Scott Bain was first tested by Olly Lee after the English midfielder won an aerial battle with the returning Tom Rogic. The ball bounced kindly for Lee but he could only hit his half-volley straight down the throat of Bain.
Hearts won a corner after a Peter Haring drive was deflected wide and they had the ball in the back of the net from the resulting set piece but the goal was ruled out. Haring towered above the Celtic defence from the corner but when MacLean helped the ball past Bain he was in an offside position.
Celtic then had the best chance of the first half. After good play by Rogic on the half-way line, he played in Sinclair on the left. The winger cut the ball back on to his right foot, curving a low shot towards goal but Zlamal was equal to it.
Celtic went ahead after 51 minutes when they were awarded a debatable penalty. Half-time substitute Ryan Christie went down under the challenge of Ollie Bozanic and Scott Sinclair stepped up to send the keeper the wrong way, making it 1-0 to Celtic.
They came close again just three minutes later as Odsonne Edouard launched a counter attack. He found Sinclair wide on the left, who fed a nice pass to the overlapping Kieran Tierney, but the full-back’s cross was headed well over by Edouard.
The Jambos did force a save from Scott Bain just after the hour mark when Mitchell picked out Bozanic with a lovely ball over the top – but the Aussie could only stretch and hit his shot to Bain’s left, who gathered comfortably.
An error from Bobby Zlamal made it 2-0 to Celtic. A cross was cleared away to the edge of the area, where a tame Ryan Christie shot was hit back to Zlamal. He spilled it but managed to claw it off the line only for the ball to come straight to Forrest who tapped it in for 2-0.
Hearts tried to hit back through Bozanic. A long free-kick was lofted towards the box and bounced down towards the Aussie international on the edge of the box but he could only send his half-volley wide.
Craig Levein responded by sending Callumn Morrison on, replacing the luckless Bozanic.
It was to no avail as Christie extended the lead on 72 minutes with an absolute screamer from the edge of the box. The cross was originally mis-controlled by Edouard but fell kindly for Christie who curled it into the top corner first time and made it 3-0.
Jimmy Dunne then made a goal line clearance to deny Edouard getting his name on scoresheet. After nice build-up play Edouard showed good feet in the box to shift it onto his right foot and try to curl it in, but Dunne showed good anticipation to clear away.
Zlamal bounced back strongly to deny Celtic a fourth. A counter-attack saw Tierney unleashed on the left and his cut back found Forrest perfectly. His right-footed shot looked destined for the top corner but Zlamal leapt through the air to palm away.
He was busy again just moments later when a 35-yard low drive from Tierney took a deflection and flew towards the Hearts goal only for Zlamal to get down low and block away.
Hearts were forced to clear the ball off the line twice in quick succession as Celtic looked to put the icing on the cake. Firstly Dikamona, then Smith denied Celtic getting a fourth and Scott Sinclair a second.
The loss means Hearts are out of the Betfred Cup at the semi-final stage – the first time they had gone that far since 2014 – after an impressive cup run that included two 5-0 wins.
Hearts: Zlamal, Smith, Dunne, Haring, Bozanic (Morrison, 70'), Lee (Clare, 76'), Djoum, Mitchell, Naismith (Amankwaa, 8'), MacLean, Dikamona. Subs: Doyle, Hughes, Garuccio, Cochrane.
Celtic: Bain, Rogic, Ntcham (Christie, 46'), Edoaurd, Lustig, Benkovic, Ajer (Hendry, 80'), McGregor, Forrest, Tierney, Kouassi (Sinclair, 26'). Subs: Gordon, Hayes, Morgan, Ralston.
Referee: Willie Collum