Date: 10th November 2010 at 11:01pm
Written by:

Despite Sunday`s fine win at Easter Road, I reckoned Hearts needed to put in a better performance if they were going to get a decent result against an in-form Celtic team. Well, that same message seems to have been drilled into the players by Jim Jefferies too, because tonight`s performance was quite simply superb.

Hearts almost took the lead through Stephen Elliott, when he headed against the bar after David Templeton had hit a wayward volley in his direction. However the opening goal came on the half-hour mark, when Skacel played a short free-kick to Ian Black who unleashed a decent shot from 25 yards which Majstorovic got his head to – only for the ball to curl over keeper Forster into the net.

Hooper was rather unluckily booked for “simulation” when he stumbled while attempting to dribble round Marian Kello, who clearly made no contact with the Celtic man. His booking was earned in retrospect though, due to a much bolder dive which refree Thomson rightly ignored.

Hooper then had a golden chance to equalise when Zaliukas tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick- not realising that his Celtic opponent managed to flick the ball back to a team-mate who set up the chance for Hooper. The impressive Kello made an instinctive save.

10 minutes into the second half, Joe Ledley made a ridiculous lunge at Ian Black (studs up), going straight through him to get the ball. Ledley and the Celtic bench were astonished to see referee Thomson waving a red card – but the TV pictures show quite clearly that the tackle was extremely rash and dangerous. The reaction of Lennon seemed in keeping with the current controversies which Celtic seem to be at the centre of these days. Incredibly, he later claimed that Ledley`s tackle didn`t even merit a free-kick !!!

Minutes later, Hearts were 2-0 ahead. Mrowiec showed dogged determination to win the ball in midfield, and released Rudi Skacel on the left. He played a perfect ball behind the Celtic back-line to David Templeton running in from the right – and the youngster side-footed the ball with extreme composure past the keeper.

Substitute Ryan Stevenson (on for Black) was clumsy in his own box when going for a bouncing ball, which clearly hit his arm – however referee Thomson waved “play on”. This incensed the Celtic bench again, to the extent that Lennon was sent to the stand.

Celtic substitute McGinn managed to hit the post in the closing minutes, although Kello had his shot from a narrow angle covered. Another couple of excellent saves on the goal-line by our keeper from close-range scrambles suggested that this was indeed going to be our night.
Hearts enjoyed the majority of possession, and used the ball very well. They created most of the scoring chances, and every single player was quite simply superb – 10 out of 10 for all of them !!

It`s not often that an Old Firm team gets a red card and 5 yellows, when we suffer only 2 yellows. Will Celtic “seek clarification” on this, I wonder ??

Something just feels right about this current Hearts squad. It could be the emergence of Templeton, the return of Skacel, the physical presence of Kyle, the return of Zaliukas, or the non-stop style of Stephen Elliott. Maybe all of those, plus a “togetherness” work ethic instilled by JJ ? The team looks to have a real cutting edge to their attack now – long may it continue.

The 3-0 defeat by Kilmarnock hurt at the time, but their subsequent results have shown that it was no fluke, so we can perhaps forgive Hearts for just having an off-day.

Congratulations to Hibs also for a fine 3-0 away win at Ibrox, when few pundits and fans would have given tuppence for their chances. You have to wonder if Mr Riordan being absent actually helped Colin Calderwood`s game-plan. Motherwell continue to steam ahead, beating St.Johnstone 4-0, while St. Mirren surprisingly won 2-1 at Tannadice.

All these results allowed Hearts to move into 4th place in the SPL with 20 points from 12 matches – which would yield an admirable 60 points if that ratio were to be continued.

Well done, Hearts !!