Match Reports

Celtic 4-1 Hearts

5th August 2017

Isma on target for Jambos in Celtic Park defeat.

 

Hearts kicked off their 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with a visit to Glasgow’s east end to take on last season’s champions, Celtic.

The Jambos put in a spirited display, but the home side ultimately proved too strong as they triumphed in a 4-1 victory.

Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring for the hosts in the 29th minute, after the Hearts defence were caught by a long ball through the middle, which was followed by a Scott Sinclair tap-in from a corner.

Griffiths notched his second of the game just after the hour mark when Callum McGregor burst into the box and crossed it for Griffiths to head home. McGregor then scored himself with a fine long-range effort.

Hearts managed a consolation goal late on, when Isma broke the offside trap and beat Craig Gordon.

After Ian Cathro left the club this week, interim head coach Jon Daly made three personnel changes, as well as an alteration to the shape of the side from last week’s Betfred Cup tie with Dunfermline.

Returning to the side were Aaron Hughes and Rafal Grzelak, while youngster Lewis Moore made his first appearance since the last day of the 2015/16 season. 

The Jambos lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Jamie Brandon and Grzelak at full-back, while Michael Smith and Moore would support Kyle Lafferty on the flanks.

The hosts had the first chance of the match after four minutes, as Griffiths swung a corner to the back-post where it was met by Nir Bitton, but the Israeli could only head into the side netting.

Hearts had their first sniff at goal on 12 minutes. Prince Buaben did well to win the ball on the edge of the Celtic area, and after playing a one-two with Moore, hit a soft shot straight at Gordon.

Celtic had a chance to take the lead on 22 minutes, when Griffiths cut in from the left and beat Hughes, before hitting an effort at goal. Jack Hamilton palmed it out and as McGregor prepared to pounce, Christophe Berra produced a glorious block to divert the ball over the bar.

Griffiths then had another chance, when Scott Sinclair slid the ball through to the Scotland striker on the angle, but he mis-hit his shot, which flew wide of the post.

However, the forward only needed one more attempt to make it count. Hearts were caught out by a long ball through the middle, and Griffiths’ first attempt was blocked by Hamilton, but he got the break of the ball and passed it into an empty net to make it 1-0.

Griffiths had another chance on 35 minutes. Gordon played a long ball down the park quickly, and Griffiths got on the wrong side of Hughes. He cut onto his left foot, but Brandon got across to deflect his effort over the bar.

Celtic should have doubled their lead on half-time, after some nice interchange saw McGregor burst into the box, but his shot was the wrong side of the post and the half ended with the one goal deficit.

Hearts started the second half brightly, with Berra almost converting a Cowie corner, but it was Celtic who doubled their lead as a corner went all the way through to Sinclair at the back post, and the forward converted his chance.

Lafferty had a chance on the break, when Michael Smith broke down the right wing and fired a cross across the face of goal, but the Northern Irish forward just missed the ball. Then, at the other end, McGregor hit a ferocious shot from the edge of the box that Hamilton saved well.

McGregor came close again moments later, as he let fly from 25 yards, but to the relief of Hamilton the ball flew just wide of his right-hand post, but then McGregor broke into the box and crossed it over to Griffiths who nodded into an empty net.

McGregor got a goal of his own on 72 minutes. Sinclair spun his marker, ran into the danger area and fed McGregor, whose first time shot flew past Hamilton into the net.

Hearts did get themselves a consolation goal, as Isma broke the offside trap and raced towards goal. Beating Jozo Simunovic, he hammered a shot that flew into the roof of the net past Gordon to get Hearts off the mark for the season.

Celtic: Gordon, Simunovic, Bitton, Brown, Griffiths (Hayes, 66'), Sinclair, Ntcham (Armstrong, 87'), Lustig, McGregor (Rogic, 75'), Forrest, Tierney. Subs: de Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Kouassi.

Hearts: Hamilton, Brandon, Berra, Hughes, Grzelak (Isma, 67'), M.Smith, Buaben (Randall, 62'), Cowie, Djoum, Moore, Lafferty (Sammon, 71'). Subs: Noring, Souttar, Nowak, Martin.

Ref: Kevin Clancy

Top Man: Lewis Moore