Heart of Midlothian 0-2 Celtic
Wednesday 18th December 2019, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle
Hearts were defeated at Tynecastle by Celtic tonight despite a battling performance against the league leaders.
A much improved display from the Jambos had the visitors on the back foot in the opening half hour before Celtic showed their ruthlessness by scoring with their first shot on goal.
Daniel Stendel made five changes to the side that lost 1-0 to St Johnstone on Saturday.
There were recalls for Joel Pereira, Jamie Brandon, Loic Damour, Jake Mulraney and Craig Wighton, with Bobby Zlamal, Glenn Whelan, Sean Clare and Aidan Keena dropping to the bench, while Jamie Walker missed out altogether having picked up a knock in training.
Hearts began on the front foot at a high tempo, forcing Celtic into mistakes in their own half, and created the first opening of the match when a Steven MacLean cross was headed down to Wighton, who laid the ball back to Bozanic with a neat header, but the Australian’s effort was straight at Fraser Forster.
Bozanic came close again when Damour and Wighton played a lovely one-two down the left flank, before Wighton whipped a ball in that Bozanic met with his head, but the ball narrowly missed the post.
Despite having the majority of possession and territory, Celtic took the lead with their first effort on goal. James Forrest played a ball inside to Odsonne Edouard, with the Frenchman laying the ball back to Ryan Christie with a neat back heel, and Christie was clinical with a finish into the corner.
Forrest then had a glorious chance to double the lead when he raced through on goal but, when he saw the whites of the keeper’s eyes, he rolled the ball the wrong side of the post. He made amends moments later though, when he burst into the Hearts area and, although forced wide by Christophe Berra, found Olivier Ntcham rushing into the box to double the lead.
The Jambos came out fighting in the second half but their pressing game resulted in numerous more Celtic chances. Callum McGregor had the ball in the net after Edouard’s shot was blocked superbly by Hickey, but the assistant raised his flag for offside.
Christie then almost turned provider for Edouard when he whipped in a cross that the French striker met with a firm header, but it bounced off the post and back out. Joel Pereira then denied Celtic twice, first when Edouard looked certain to score at the back post from a free kick, and then when McGregor was slipped in by Johnny Hayes.
In the final 20 minutes, Hearts pressed further up the park and created a few half-chances aided by the introduction of Euan Henderson up front.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Bozanic (Whelan, 46'), Mulraney (Henderson, 60'), Wighton, MacLean, Damour, Brandon (Clare, 31'), Halkett, Hickey. Subs: Zlamal, Dikamona, Keena, Meshino.
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Brown, Hayes, Christie, Ntcham, Edouard (Griffiths, 83'), Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest (Bitton, 83'). Subs: Gordon, Taylor, Bayo, Morgan, Rogic.
Referee: Bobby Madden