Celtic 5-0 Heart of Midlothian
Wednesday 12th February 2020, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Celtic Park
Hearts were heavily beaten by Celtic in this evening’s Scottish Premiership encounter at Celtic Park.
After a competitive first half, the Jambos got off to a nightmare start in the second half and, unfortunately, saw the game run away from them.
Daniel Stendel made three changes to the side that won in the wintry conditions at Falkirk on Saturday, with John Souttar, Jamie Walker and Anthony McDonald returning to the team.
The Jambos began the game brightly, showing no fear in the face of the champions, although it was the home side who had the first shot of the match.
Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard combined at the edge of the Hearts area, with the Scotland striker letting fly with a stinging drive from distance that flew just over the bar.
Hearts then had a great opening of their own when, after a Sean Clare free-kick wasn’t dealt with convincingly by Chris Jullien, the ball dropped to Walker and he hit a first time snapshot at goal, but it was straight at Fraser Forster.
At the other end, Joel Pereira was called into action when Celtic broke down the other end of the park, with Olivier Ntcham finding James Forrest in space. The winger cut inside and shot at goal, but Pereira pushed it away well, and then smothered the follow up.
Hearts were showing confidence in their play at this point, and earned a free kick in a dangerous area when Jozo Simunovic scythed down Walker on the edge of the box. Ben Garuccio’s driven effort drew a good save from Forster.
At this point, the manager introduced Conor Washington for McDonald in a tactical switch, but immediately the plans were up in smoke as Celtic took the lead when Edouard shot at goal, Pereira pushed it away and Ntcham buried the follow up.
Hearts were initially undaunted by the setback, and continued to press their hosts high up the pitch, forcing them into mistakes. Steven Naismith came close after Craig Halkett had nodded down a header, but his shot was deflected wide.
With Hearts pushing forward, it would leave opportunities for the home side on the counter attack, and when Edouard slid in Griffiths, the home fans rose in celebration only to see the ball had hit the side netting and gone out.
The manager then introduced Marcel Langer at the interval and changed shape once more, but again the plans were undone as Jullien nodded home from a corner within a minute of restart. Four minutes later, it was three. A swift counter saw Greg Taylor cut the ball back for Callum McGregor and his effort was deflected home via John Souttar.
Hearts kept pressing to reduce the arrears and came close on two occasions, firstly then Garuccio found space outside the area and curled a shot just wide, before Walker drove at the Celtic defence and hit a goal bound effort that Forster tipped superbly past the post.
In between these, Celtic hit the woodwork twice when Simunovic headed off the post, before Scott Brown then hit the other post after a corner wasn’t cleared. Minutes later, it was 4-0. Substitute Ryan Christie got on the end of a Taylor cross and again, a deflection saw the ball beat Pereira.
The hosts then made it five with ten minutes remaining, when Christie’s corner was nodded home powerfully by Simunovic. Kris Ajer then rampaged into the Hearts half, cutting it back to Tom Rogic, but Lewis Moore - on for Michael Smith - diverted it away to safety.
The Jambos’ night went from bad to worse when Langer was shown a straight red card for going through Brown on the touchline with four minutes to play. McGregor then tried his luck from long range, but Pereira got down well to save.
Celtic: Forster, Julien, Taylor, Simunovic, Brown, Griffiths, (Christie, 64') Ntcham (Rogic, 78'), Edouard, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest (Elyounoussi, 72'). Subs: Bain, Bayo, Bauer, Hayes.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith (Moore, 70'), Souttar, Clare (Langer, 46'), Walker, Naismith, Garuccio, McDonald (Washington, 29'), Halkett, Boyce, Irving. Subs: Zlamal, Ikpeazu, Damour, Avdijaj.
Referee: Willie Collum