|Report Index--> 2007-08--> All for 20071031|
|<-Page||<-Team||Wed 31 Oct 2007 Celtic 0 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|
|<-Srce||<-Type||Scotsman ------ Report||Type->||Srce->|
|Anatoly Korobochka||<-auth||Barry Anderson||auth->||Kenny Clark|
|1||of 007||Andrius Velicka 77 ;Andrius Velicka 86||LC||A|
Hearts treat fans to a trick
"We all need to take the responsibility if things go wrong, so we take it together when things go right Stephen Frail"
No-one gave them an earthly pre-match, yet a resolute defence and industrious midfield suffocated Celtic before substitute Andrius Velicka steered two breathtaking finishes beyond Artur Boruc late in the match. For a club which has been toying with supporters' emotions for the entirety of Vladimir Romanov's reign, it was a welcome peak following two disturbing troughs against Dundee United and Kilmarnock on SPL duty.
The hosts, to be blunt, were out-classed. They may have more illustrious fish to fry, such as against Benfica in the Champions League next week, but manager Gordon Strachan's team selection indicated the importance he attaches to the CIS Cup. Names like Donati, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Brown and McGeady attempted at various junctures to unlock the visiting defence. However, with Anthony Basso showcasing his full repertoire of goalkeeping skills in place of the now injured Steve Banks, their efforts met with nothing but resistance.
Where exactly this Hearts performance came from is anyone's guess. Attempting to apply logic to events at Tynecastle has long been considered a forlorn pastime, yet occasions like last night are what encourages everyone to keep the faith. Or, dare we say, believe. Basso's expertise was matched by standout performances from Ruben Palazuelos, Andy Driver and captain Christophe Berra. In short, the Edinburgh side looked utterly transformed from four days previously at Rugby Park.
This afternoon they were due to take their place in the CIS Cup semi-final draw alongside Rangers, Dundee United and Aberdeen, and they may wish to be mindful of a rather pertinent omen for the latter stages: last time Hearts defeated Celtic in the League Cup - 1954 - they went on to lift the trophy.
"I think we can win it," said assistant coach Stephen Frail. "I thought we could win last night and we did. Whoever you get in the semi-final is going to be a tough draw but it makes for an exciting competition. We are just glad to have gone to Celtic Park and won. Remember, three weeks ago Celtic beat AC Milan there, and they are European champions."
Frail had a point. Sceptics will argue that the CIS Cup was the least of Celtic's concerns this season, but the way their players scuttled around after Velicka broke the deadlock betrayed notions of a team fearful of elimination. In front of a paltry home crowd it wasn't that Strachan's side lacked desire, just that Hearts had more. And in Velicka they had the game's most clinical finisher.
Evander Sno, having replaced the ill Lee Naylor during the interval, had two fine opportunities in front of goal for Celtic but spurned them both. By contrast, it could be argued that Velicka's chances were more difficult and less clear cut, but he buried them both with a style that must ensure him a starting slot in Sunday's Edinburgh derby.
"If I was him I'd be looking to start the next game. He's certainly made it difficult for us to leave him out because I thought his performance was spot on," admitted Frail, who was keen to champion collective responsibility for the coaching staff when asked about the decision to introduce the Lithuanian in place of Calum Elliot after 74 minutes.
"We spoke about it at half-time and Andrius was always likely to go on," he explained. "Maybe not for Calum because we thought about putting Calum in another area of the park. But, with his calf tightening up, we had to get him off and Andrius went on and scored. We all take the credit because I think we all need to take the responsibility if things go wrong, so we take it together when things go right.
"Andrius played at Easter Road against Hibs last year and scored two good goals to bring us back from 2-0 down. So we know he can do it against Hibs, and to score the two goals in the manner he did last night was top class. Especially the second one. He'll be full of confidence and I'm sure he'll be well in the thoughts for Easter Road.
"Mauricio Pinilla is back training and hopefully Calum will be okay, so it gives us good options. Some people might have started Andrius last night, but I'm a Calum Elliot fan. I thought he was fantastic. We'll have to see how everyone is over the next couple of days, but if I was Andrius I'd be hoping to play at the weekend."
Celtic adopted a rigorous physical approach from kick-off and Audrius Ksanavicius saw a reasonable early penalty claim refused after a shoulder charge from Gary Caldwell. Aiden McGeady emerged as the principal danger to Hearts but it quickly became apparent that the visitors were a far more compact unit than that which capitulated so easily in the league at the same venue in August.
Celtic grew slowly during the first half to become a more authoritative presence but were confronted by a resilient Hearts whenever they ventured over the halfway line. A sideshow to the main event was Scott Brown's tussle with Ksanavicius, the former Hibs midfielder frequently niggling his opponent with off-the-ball nudging and barging. At one point, he cheekily held up five fingers in the Lithuanian's face to denote the 5-0 scoreline from the clubs' last meeting.
Scott McDonald and Brown had attempts on goal prior to half-time but the interval arrived with Hearts looking unperturbed. Just 60 seconds into the second period, McDonald's ferocious 20-yard shot produced a crucial save as Basso improvised with his legs to maintain a blank scoreline. Sno's profligacy was most obvious when he wasted consecutive chances created for him by Brown, but Celtic probably suffered more in the second half through their lack of an established left-back. Paul Hartley, the former Tynecastle midfielder, played as an auxiliary full-back following Naylor's interval substitution and in the 77th minute Hearts capitalised ruthlessly on his defensive naivety.
Driver, who performed superbly in an unorthodox right-wing role, accepted Velicka's pass and almost ran the ball out of play near the standside touchline. Hartley stood, hand aloft, debating the issue with officials when an experienced defender would have eliminated danger first and protested second. Driver didn't linger and scampered forward to tee up Velicka for a crisp finish low to Boruc's right. As the Lithuanian slapped his chest in celebration, the inspiration was almost visible as it transferred itself to the travelling support.
McGeady unleashed a raking drive as Celtic strove to respond immediately, but again the outstanding Basso was equal to the task. Hearts again appealed for a penalty on 79 minutes when Driver's back h
"In the past I have scored after coming on to the pitch but not like this," he said. "Our last result against Celtic was a motivational factor and to win last night gives us a massive psychological boost. If we play like that we give ourselves every chance of winning the tournament. I would like to start every game but it's not my decision. If I can come off the bench and help the team then that's good enough for me."
It was certainly sufficient for the jubilant Hearts support, who ended the night with chants of "Mikoliunas on the wing" and "Bring on the Hibees".
Taken from the Scotsman
|<-Page||<-Team||Wed 31 Oct 2007 Celtic 0 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|