Scottish Premiership
HeartsHeart of Midlothian0CelticCeltic2

Hearts 0-2 Celtic: Champions move five points clear at top

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Tynecastle
Highlights: Hearts 0-2 Celtic

Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic moved five points clear by extending Hearts' winless run to six games.

Ryan Christie curled in the opener, with Olivier Ntcham also netting before the break to move Celtic further ahead of Rangers, who have a game in hand.

They could have piled more misery on new Hearts boss Daniel Stendel, who has now lost his first two games in charge.

Stendel's side are 11th, above Hamilton Academical - who they face on Saturday - only on goal difference.

Lose that and the Tynecastle side will head into the Boxing Day derby with Hibernian adrift at the foot of the table at the halfway point of the campaign and under serious threat of relegation.

But for Celtic, it was a ninth consecutive Premiership victory as they took their tally of league goals for the season to 50.

Celtic up title pressure as Hearts show signs of life

After a season and more of insipid performances, these are grim times for Hearts on and off the field, a reality that hit Stendel square between the eyes on Saturday when he lost his first match in charge against St Johnstone. That was another lousy effort in a long back catalogue of lousy Hearts efforts.

This game had the look of an annihilation in the offing. Celtic can't stop winning and can't stop scoring and Hearts' much-discussed high press looked like offering meat and drink to Celtic's ruthless attackers.

It turned out to be a comfortable win for Celtic, but only after close to half an hour of solid stuff from Hearts. They opened promisingly, full of energy, full of passion, loads of hustling and harrying. In the midst of this, Scott Brown got booked for a foul on Aaron Hickey - always a popular call in this place of all places.

Hearts weren't good enough to take advantage of Celtic's early discomfort but their work-rate was high and their fans appreciated it. They looked like a team that at least knew what they were trying to do. Their fans have accused them of lacking stomach for the fight for much of the season but they couldn't level that charge at them here. They were undone by a much better team, but they battled.

The rising confidence in their ranks creaked when Celtic scored against the run of play. The visitors had done nothing in the game to that point, but the first chance they created, they converted. It was clever and clinical. When the ball was played into Odsonne Edouard, three Hearts men - Loic Damour, Craig Halkett and Christophe Berra - went to him. Bad idea.

Edouard back-heeled it and took out the three of them. James Forrest wanted to get on the end of the loose ball but it broke instead for Christie, who drove it low past Joel Pereira. What a goal machine Christie has become for the champions. The midfielder, as classy as he is consistent, has practically scored a goal in every other game this season across all competitions.

In a second blow, Hearts lost their right-back Jamie Brandon to injury. Sean Clare came on and slotted in admirably in Brandon's place.

Hearts graphic

Celtic kicked on, though. A heavy touch from Edouard cost the striker a wonderful chance to make it two. Just after, Ntcham put Forrest through a huge gap in the Hearts' defence but he pulled his shot wide when one-on-one with Pereira. That was a glaring miss, but Celtic weren't so wasteful when they carved out their next chance.

Brown started it by robbing Damour in midfield, Forrest carried it on when racing down the left. Berra stayed with him, just about, but then got done when the winger checked and went again, buying himself enough room to get his cross in. Edouard tried to connect at the back post but missed. The ball carried to Ntcham, who finished beautifully, a cushioned and emphatic strike that ensured the victory.

Hearts had a few moments in pursuit of a goal that might have made a contest of it, but Clare pushed a shot wide and Fraser Forster denied Michael Smith.

All the time there was a threat from the champions, though. Callum McGregor had a goal disallowed, correctly. Edouard probably should have done better with a header. McGregor should have scored but Pereira denied him.

In a way, both teams got what they were looking for. Celtic earned another deserved win in this long sequence of wins and put the pressure back on Rangers ahead of their game against Hibernian on Friday. For their part, Hearts showed a sign of life, some spirit, some encouraging signs amid a sea of negativity.

Man of the match - Odsonne Edouard

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner on Sportsound

Edouard was fantastic, the only thing missing was a goal. When the ball was knocked up to him in the middle of the pitch he showed his class, holding it up. In and around the box, his awareness of others around him was great too, for example his flick for the first goal.

He's coming back from an injury and you can see they brought him off again to keep him right. He is exceptional.

Line-ups

Hearts

Formation 4-3-3

  • 23Castro Pereira
  • 25BrandonSubstituted forClareat 32'minutes
  • 26HalkettBooked at 78mins
  • 6Berra
  • 51Hickey
  • 22DamourBooked at 43mins
  • 2SmithBooked at 63mins
  • 7BozanicSubstituted forWhelanat 45'minutes
  • 11MulraneySubstituted forHendersonat 61'minutes
  • 18MacLeanBooked at 31mins
  • 15Wighton

Substitutes

  • 1Zlamal
  • 8Clare
  • 12Whelan
  • 28Dikamona
  • 35Keena
  • 41Henderson
  • 77Meshino

Celtic

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 67Forster
  • 30Frimpong
  • 2Jullien
  • 35AjerBooked at 43mins
  • 15Hayes
  • 8BrownBooked at 18mins
  • 42McGregor
  • 17Christie
  • 21Ntcham
  • 49ForrestSubstituted forBittonat 83'minutes
  • 22EdouardSubstituted forGriffithsat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gordon
  • 3Taylor
  • 6Bitton
  • 9Griffiths
  • 10Bayo
  • 16Morgan
  • 18Rogic
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
17,297

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamCeltic
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home13
Away13
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home2
Away7
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Celtic 2.

  3. Post update

    Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Christie (Celtic).

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Craig Wighton.

  6. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces Odsonne Edouard.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Celtic. Nir Bitton replaces James Forrest.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Sean Clare.

  9. Booking

    Craig Halkett (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Craig Halkett (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Glenn Whelan with a cross following a set piece situation.

  11. Post update

    Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Odsonne Edouard (Celtic).

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Christophe Berra.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Craig Wighton (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  15. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Craig Wighton (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Hickey.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian).

  18. Post update

    James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Post update

    Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Jonny Hayes (Celtic).

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Wednesday 18th December 2019

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic1715115094146
2Rangers16132147103741
3Aberdeen189542622432
4Motherwell1810172924531
5Kilmarnock186571721-423
6Hibernian185762731-422
7Ross County175572035-1520
8Livingston184772327-419
9St Mirren1843111527-1215
10St Johnstone163671433-1915
11Hearts1826101630-1412
12Hamilton1826101631-1512
View full Scottish Premiership table

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