Heart of Midlothian 1-2 Celtic
Wednesday 27th February 2019, KO 19:45 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts suffered the cruelest of blows this evening at Tynecastle, losing an injury time winner to Celtic.
The Jambos looked likely to upset the odds and secure a point against the league leaders despite being down to ten men after Jamie Brandon’s first-half red card.
James Forrest had given Celtic the lead against the run of play before Hearts levelled proceedings through Ollie Bozanic’s penalty, but disaster struck in the final moments when Odsonne Edouard won the visitors all three points.
Craig Levein made two changes from the side that drew with St Mirren last weekend. Brandon and Marcus Godinho were handed starting berths ahead of Clevid Dikamona and Jake Mulraney, who missed out altogether through injury.
A tight opening affair saw plenty of strong challenges but lacked any real goalmouth action. Olly Lee was first to register a shot on target, picking up the ball 25-yards out and blasting on goal but Scott Bain held comfortably at his near post.
Zdenek Zlamal was called into action after 19 minutes. A throw into the Hearts box was flicked back out by Oliver Burke for Scott Brown to hit a snapshot from 18-yards but the Czech keeper did well to push it away.
Some Bain heroics kept the scores level minutes later. Lee’s corner to the edge of the Celtic found Sean Clare, who hit a stunning first-time volley that looked destined for the bottom left corner but Bain somehow threw himself to his right to tip it around the post.
From the resulting corner, Lee was again provider, this time finding Uche Ikpeazu in the six-yard box but he powered a header inches over the bar.
The Jambos passed up a glorious chance to take the lead on 33 minutes. Dedryk Boyata dallied on the ball at the edge of his own box and Steven Naismith showed the wherewithal to nip in and rob him of possession before running into the box, but under pressure from the Celtic defender he dragged his shot well wide of the target.
Disaster struck three minutes later when Celtic took the lead through an incisive breakaway. Ewan Henderson had time to paly the ball down the channel for Scott Sinclair, who moved it inside for Oliver Burke to carry it into the box, drawing Zlamal out of his goal before squaring it to Forrest to tap home.
Zlamal pulled off a neat save with four minutes of the half remaining after some clever passing at the edge of the box between Burke and Jeremy Toljan saw the former lash an effort on target, but the ‘keeper made a smart block at his his near post.
Things got a whole lot harder for Hearts when they were reduced to ten men before the half was out. Brandon was judged to have led with the arm when challenging Toljan for a high ball and referee Steven McLean flashed a straight red.
Right on half time, Zlamal pulled off a stunning double save. Burke ran across the face of goal before pulling the trigger, only for his shot to bounce up off John Souttar but Zlamal instinctively stuck up a hand to stop the ball, before clawing away Sinclair’s follow up from close range.
Celtic looked to make the man advantage count after the restart and went close through Henderson, who tried his luck from distance but lifted his shot just over the bar.
The ten men of Hearts were handed a lifeline on 56 minutes when Bain’s pass across the box missed Kristoffer Ajer, and the Norwegian brought down the advancing Arnaud Djoum, resulting in a penalty. Substitute Bozanic, who had replaced Naismith at half time, stepped up and sent Bain the wrong way, getting Hearts back on level terms.
The visitors then gave a timely reminder of how dangerous they could be, with Tierney shooting from the edge of the box, narrowly missing the far corner by inches.
Hearts were giving their all and didn’t look like a team with ten men, continually winning challenges and carving Celtic open.
Again, though, Celtic weren’t shy in ramping up the pressure when they saw fit. Substitute Edouard blasted over the bar from inside the box before Toljan cut inside the drilled a shot inches wide of Zlamal’s right-hand post.
Zlamal was on outstanding form and was alert again with two minutes remaining, get across his goal to stop Boyata’s header after the Belgian had got on the end of Nir Bitton’s free kick.
Cruelly, Hearts were sunk by an injury time goal. Brown lifted the ball into the box for Edouard to ghost in front of his marker and sidefoot past Zlamal.
Hearts: Zlamal, Souttar, Haring, Berra, Lee, Clare, Djoum, Naismith (Bozanic, 46'), Ikpeazu (Vanecek, 79'), Brandon, Godinho (Dikamona, 85'). Subs: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Cochrane, Keena.
Celtic: Bain, Toljan (Lustig, 85'), Bitton, Brown, Sinclair (Weah, 80'), Boyata, Burke, Ajer, Forrest, Henderson (Edouard, 62'), Tierney. Subs: Gordon, Hendry, Hayes, Johnston.
Referee: Steven McLean
Attendance: 18, 258