Hearts exited the Scottish League Cup at the hands of Celtic on Wednesday night.
Second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Tomas Rogic were enough to see off the Jambos, who more than matched their opponents for long spells in the game, with Arnuad Djoum nodding a late consolation.
Robbie Neilson made two changes from the team that beat Ross County four days ago; Morgaro Gomis and Billy King came in for Arnaud Djoum and Jamie Walker. Meanwhile Celtic suffered a blow before kick-off with captain Scott Brown picking up an injury during the warm up, he was replaced by James Forrest.
The game started at an electric pace, with a few full-blooded challenges going in. Hearts had plenty of possession and Osman Sow tried his luck in the fourth minute, but his 25-yard low drive was easily gathered by Craig Gordon.
Celtic grew into the game and started to take control of the ball, but Hearts defended resolutely. A deflected Stuart Armstrong shot and a wayward Griffiths header were the closest the visitors came inside the opening 25 minutes.
Prince Buaben made a crucial interception at the edge of the Hearts box in the 26th minute but the ball fell to Kris Commons who blasted clean over the bar.
Hearts immediately responded with Sow showing good feet to drive into the Celtic box and away from his marker, but he screwed his effort inches wide, under intense pressure from Dedryck Boyata.
Jordan McGhee began a spell of rampaging down the left flank, and in the 36th minute unleashed a long-range effort only to see if fly well wide of Gordon’s right-hand post.
McGhee was in the mix again three minutes later, taking down a cross-field pass from Callum Paterson before playing a one-two with Juanma and drilling wide of the target.
Walker was an early second-half substitution for the Jambos, coming on for King as both sides continued to look for that all important first goal.
Tomas Rogic was introduced to play just before the hour mark and made an instant impression, dashing away from two maroon shirts at the edge of the Hearts box before flashing an effort well wide of the target.
Hearts had the ball in the back of the net not long after but it was ruled out for offside. Paterson knocked down McGhee’s free-kick for Sow to touch into the net but the linesman’s flag was quickly up.
McGhee came to Hearts’ rescue in the 68th minute when Stuart Armstrong’s cross whizzed across the face of goal and beyond Neil Alexander, but the left-back slid to make the crucial block on the line and clear the danger.
Two minutes later the visitors were in front and it was courtesy of a magical piece of play from Griffiths. He weaved his way into the Hearts box, evading a number of maroon shirts, before curling low past the despairing Alexander.
With nine minutes remaining the visitors bagged their second goal of the night. Griffiths tore down the left and got to the byeline to middle for Rogic to backheel beyond Alexander from close range.
Paterson went close with a long-range free kick, but his rocket shot was inches wide of Gordon’s right-hand post.
In time added on Djoum headed home from a corner to set up an interesting remaining sixty seconds.
That was all she wrote, however, as Hearts exit the Scottish League Cup at the quarter-finals stage.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, McGhee, Gomis, Buaben (Djoum, 79'), Nicholson, King (Walker, 52'), Sow, Juanma (Reilly, 86'). Subs: Hamilton, L. Smith, Swanson, Zanatta.
Celtic: Gordon, Izaguirre, Simunovic, Bitton, Forrest (Rogic, 59'), Griffiths (Ciftci, 82'), Armstrong, Commons, Boyata, Lustig, Johansen. Subs: Bailly, Ambrose, Blackett, Tierney, McGregor.
Referee: John Beaton
Top man: Igor Rossi