Scottish Premiership
HeartsHeart of Midlothian1CelticCeltic2

Heart of Midlothian 1-2 Celtic

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Tynecastle

Celtic debutant Scott Sinclair came off the bench to score an 81st-minute winner as the champions prevailed in a frenetic encounter at Tynecastle.

The visitors led via James Forrest before Tony Watt missed a close-range sitter for Hearts against his old club.

Celtic's advantage was cancelled out before the break, though, with a hugely controversial Jamie Walker penalty.

A game of 11 bookings looked to be heading for a draw before Sinclair turned in Leigh Griffiths' cross.

The winger, who only completed his £3.5m move from Aston Villa late on Saturday, ran to his new fans at the Celtic end of Tynecastle and was engulfed.

For the champions, it was a hard-fought but deserved winning start to their title defence.

Celtic celebrate James Forrest's opening goal
Celtic got off to the perfect start with James Forrest's opening goal

Celtic went in front when Callum McGregor ran hard at the Hearts defence. It looked like he had been taken down in the box and that a penalty might be coming, but Forrest was on to the breaking ball quickly and swept it into far corner of Jack Hamilton's net.

Replays showed Celtic's Stuart Armstrong, who appeared to be offside, was right in front of the Hearts goalkeeper when Forrest netted, but no flag was forthcoming.

Midway through the half, Hearts had a cast-iron chance of an equaliser when Watt headed high and wide from point-blank range at the visitors' back post.

Tony Watt heads a golden opportunity wide in the first half
Tony Watt wasted a golden opportunity in the first half

It was a calamitous miss for Hearts' new striker and one that lived with him for a period after. He soon got booked for kicking out at Scott Brown.

Hearts got their equaliser before half-time when Walker dived in the penalty area under a non-challenge from Kieran Tierney.

The only man in Tynecastle who saw contact was referee John Beaton, who made a terrible call. Walker took advantage of the present and beat Craig Gordon with ease.

Jamie Walker celebrates his equalising penalty
Jamie Walker's penalty award was dubious but he dispatched the spot-kick with aplomb

There was a wonderful intensity - Hearts had seven players booked in all, Celtic four - and a huge noise-level, too. Before the opening half was out, Igor Rossi had to clear off his own line and then Gordon had to make two saves from Watt.

Both sides created bits and pieces - John Souttar did well to get a block on Moussa Dembele's close-range shot - but the longer it went on the more it looked like ending in a draw.

Sinclair came on just after the hour-mark and was having an anonymous debut until the dramatic end-game.

Griffiths did wonderfully well down the left side, accelerating away and playing a precise ball into Sinclair's path, who had a straightforward job of putting it away.

For Hearts, there was the realisation that for all their physicality, intensity and admirable work from Conor Sammon and Watt, they lack cutting edge up front.

For Sinclair, the debut of his dreams.



  • 1Hamilton
  • 3Rherras
  • 4RossiBooked at 50mins
  • 14Souttar
  • 2PatersonBooked at 55mins
  • 7WalkerBooked at 36mins
  • 10Sutchuin-DjoumBooked at 18mins
  • 15CowieBooked at 76mins
  • 11Nicholson
  • 32WattBooked at 29minsSubstituted forMuirheadat 61'minutes
  • 18SammonBooked at 11minsSubstituted forBuabenat 78'minutes


  • 8Buaben
  • 13Noring
  • 17Oshaniwa
  • 23Muirhead
  • 24Smith
  • 26Zanatta
  • 35Paton


  • 1GordonBooked at 35mins
  • 63Tierney
  • 34O'ConnellSubstituted forRogicat 73'minutes
  • 2K Touré
  • 23Lustig
  • 42McGregor
  • 14ArmstrongSubstituted forSinclairat 61'minutesBooked at 81mins
  • 8BrownBooked at 78mins
  • 49Forrest
  • 9GriffithsSubstituted forJankoat 83'minutes
  • 10DembeleBooked at 90mins


  • 3Izaguirre
  • 7Ciftci
  • 11Sinclair
  • 18Rogic
  • 22Janko
  • 25Johansen
  • 38Fasan
John Beaton

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamCeltic
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 1, Celtic 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 1, Celtic 2.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

  4. Post update

    Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

  6. Booking

    Moussa Dembele (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

  7. Post update

    Prince Buaben (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Tomas Rogic (Celtic).

  9. Post update

    Foul by John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian).

  10. Post update

    Tomas Rogic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  12. Post update

    Hand ball by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

  13. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by John Souttar.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the left side of the box is just a bit too high.

  15. Post update

    Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  16. Post update

    Foul by James Forrest (Celtic).

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Saidy Janko replaces Leigh Griffiths.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

  19. Post update

    Mikael Lustig (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Booking

    Scott Sinclair (Celtic) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.

As It Stood

2Partick Thistle11002023
8St Johnstone10100001
11Ross County100113-20
12Inverness CT100102-20
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories