SPL - Hearts stun sluggish Celtic

Sun, 02 Oct 14:35:00 2011

Hearts stunned a lethargic 10-man Celtic to inflict a third SPL defeat on Neil Lennon's side with a 2-0 victory at a soggy Tynecastle.

Neil Lennon Celtic - 0

There has not been a goalless draw between the two sides at Tynecastle for 22 years, and Rudi Skacel's 58th minute strike ensured that run was not ended, before Kris Commons was shown a straight red card for a horrendous lunge on Adrian Mrowiec in the 65th minute.

Celtic's misery was promptly compounded as Ryan Stevenson belted home his side's second in the 81st minute and the home fans were left jubilant as Hearts duly closed out a comprehensive victory over the Glasgow giants.

The last time Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov attended a match he sacked his then manager Jim Jefferies, while Neil Lennon was attacked by a supporter on his previous visit for Tynecastle. But neither manager was subjected to such treatment on this occasion.

Celtic looked to dictate the play from the outset, but it was Hearts who almost capitalised on some slack marking from the visitors in just the fourth minute as Jamie Hamill whipped over a quick free kick to pick out Stevenson, who headed wide of the near post completely untracked from close range.

Hamill indulged in a more direct approach on the half hour mark as he drew a very fine diving save from Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal with an exquisite curled free-kick which looked set to find the bottom corner of the net.

Both managers were left frustrated at their players' lack of composure on the ball as a frenetic pace was generated without much quality to accompany the play.

Kris Commons made an increasing contribution as the match developed, but the midfielder was unable to muster sufficient inspiration as he became the focal point of every Celtic attack.

Jamie MacDonald proceeded to make a string of stunning saves as Charlie Mulgrew headed on target from a Commons cross with the Hearts keeper parrying the ball wide athletically.

A sharp run and rasping low drive from James Forrest then drew another fine stop from MacDonald, and Celtic were held at bay to the intense frustration of Lennon on the touchline, whose mood was about to get a great deal worse.

Another raking delivery from Hamill was taken down by Stevenson with a sublime touch, before the onrushing Skacel laced a piledriver into the far corner of the net to leave Forster with no chance.

Just seven minutes after the opening goal, Commons made his side's task considerably more difficult as he lunged in recklessly and needlessly on Mrowiec, deservedly earning a straight red card in the process.

Commons's indiscipline appeared to be contagious, and a scrappy and entirely ugly period of play ensued with neither side able to make use of their fleeting periods of possession.

Lennon introduced forward Anthony Stokes immediately with the intent of bolstering his strikeforce, but it was at the other end that the second goal arrived.

Templeton raced to the byline and backheeled the ball which looked to have been an apparent lost cause, before the bright Stevenson smashed an emphatic finish beyond Forster to clinch the three points for his side.

As a result of the victory, Hearts subsequently move to within three points of Celtic in fourth place, with the Old Firm side a full 10 points behind leaders Rangers, albeit with a solitary game in hand.

Dan Quarrell - follow on Twitter: @danquarrell / Eurosport

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