Match Reports

Heart of Midlothian 1-2 Celtic

26th January 2022

Quick Summary:
 
A Hearts fightback wasn’t enough as Celtic left Edinburgh with all three points: first-half goals for the Hoops, coupled with Liam Boyce’s second half penalty miss, left the Jambos to rue what might have been on a disappointing evening at Tynecastle.

Team News:
 
Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that disposed of Auchinleck Talbot at Beechwood last weekend; with John Souttar and Josh Ginnelly both summoned back to the starting eleven.
 
Injury report:
 
Both Michael Smith and Craig Halkett limped off injured in this match.
 
How it happened:
 
Amidst the backdrop of a typically bubbling atmosphere at Tynecastle; both Hearts and Celtic flew at each other with furious speed in the opening exchanges.  The sheer pace the game went by at was something to behold: as the two sides traded frenzied punches in the hunt for an opener.
 
Just 27 seconds had registered on the clock as McKay tried his luck with a curled effort from just beyond the area. Tynecastle roared Hearts on at Devlin’s attempted lob to Boyce; voicing support for every movement the Jambos constructed.
 
A mention is owed to the impeccable minute’s applause observed by both sets of teams and supporters on the thirteenth minute. Play halted to pay tribute to the life of the much-missed Devin Gordon as his seat in the Wheatfield lay empty for the first time.
 
It was around the quarter on an hour mark that Celtic began to encroach closer to Hearts’ goal, every chance setting alarm bells ringing as the visitors upped a gear in their search for an opener.
 
Jota was first to scare, landing two successive shots on Craig Gordon that prompted two successive saves in reply. It was a bolt from the blue though floored Hearts and sent them to the canvas; with Celtic’s January recruit Reo Hatate driving home a powerful 30-yard raker from midfield on 27 minutes to hand the Hoops the lead.
 
It was only a few minutes later when Georgios Giakoumakis extended the gap for Celtic, ten minutes from half-time, turning in a back-heel beyond Gordon to send the Celts into the break two to the good.
 
Robbie wasted no time in wielding the axe as the teams emerged for the second half. Hearts looking to shake up the formula as the JTs geared up to chase a two-goal deficit. Debutant Ellis Simms, signed just hours prior to kick-off, came on in place of Josh Ginnelly.
 
It seemed as though a change in personnel would fail to bear fruit; Juranovic hitting a snapshot from an angle inside the box forcing Gordon to turn it over the bar. 55 miniutes on the clock and it seemed like it was going to be more of the same for Hearts.
 
And yet, just moments later, the Jambos were back in it. McKay threaded through Boyce, who showed good skill to evade the offside trap and stick it through Hart's legs. Tynecastle erupted with a defiant chorus of “Hey Jude” – as the Gorgie faithful roared for more.
 
Hearts were eventually rewarded for their perseverance; a handball by a Celtic man in the area gave HMFC the chance to claw the points back on 72 minutes. Liam Boyce stepped up, displaying his usual coolness to send Joe Hart the wrong way, but things went awry when it clattered off the post to no avail.
 
It summed up Hearts’ night; and even with six minutes of added time – they couldn’t break down a tough nut in Celtic.
 
Up next: Motherwell at Tynecastle
 
The Hearts XI: Gordon, Smith (Atkinson, 21’), Kingsley, Halkett (Halliday, 80’), Souttar, Cochrane (Mackay-Steven, 56’), Haring, Devlin (Baningime, 56’), McKay, Ginnelly (Simms, 45’), Boyce
 
Subs not used: Stewart, McEneff, Henderson, Woodburn
 
Attendance: 17,967